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on the environment


Climate change mitigation (Finland)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010


The global climate is currently changing faster than at any time over the last 10 000 years. In Finland, the temperature is expected to rise even more than the world's average which has been 0.74 ºC over the last 100 years. The Finnish climate has warmed by about 0.7 °C during the 20th century and new scenarios indicate that a mean annual warming of between 3 °C and 7 °C in combination with increased annual precipitation of 13 % to 26 % can be expected by year 2100. A warming of this magnitude, together with associated changes in precipitation, sea level and possibly also storm frequency, is likely to have significant effects on both the natural environment and the Finnish society.[1], [2], [3]

[1] Climate change, Finnish Environment Institute

[2] Observed changes in the climate in Finland, Finnish Meteorological Institute (in Finnish)

[3] Signs of climate change in Finland, Finnish Environmental Administration

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010


The Finnish economy in which energy intensive export oriented industries (pulp and paper, metals) play a major role is one of the main drivers behind Finland's high green house gas emissions per capita. The development of the economy has also lead to increasing transports from and to Finland. The changes in society that have lead to a concentration of the population into regions with urban development and at the same urban sprawl have contributed to increasing travelling distances within Finland and the use of private cars instead of public transport. The development of housing and built environments has also contributed to an increase in the use of energy and natural resources.


Energy use

The total energy consumption is now about five-fold compared to the consumption in 1950. The increasing trend has been quite stable (Total energy consumption 1970–2007, Finland - State of environment 2008, p 6). One exception to this was in 2005 when the consumption temporarily decreased due to the exceptionally mild winter and major stoppages in the forest industry. The economic recessions have also affected the level of energy consumption. In general, the total energy consumption and the electricity consumption correlate rather well but the changes in the GDP do not always directly reflect consumption levels. The latest economic recession, however, caused a remarkable decrease in all three (Changes in GDP, Final energy consumption and electricity consumption 1995–).


The heating of buildings causes about 30 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. The Ministry of the Environment has launched several initiatives aiming to reduce the emissions. The energy audit was introduced in 2008, and since 2009 also the old buildings need to have energy audit when an apartment or real estate is sold. The National Building Code has been reviewed to tighten the energy efficiency requirements. As a result, an improvement of 30 % in energy efficiency is demanded from 2010 onwards, and a further demand for an improvement of 20 % is planned to be in force in 2012. Furthermore, the implementation of the directive on the energy performance of buildings is underway.



Transport is one of the driving forces behind emissions to air, thus affecting air quality and climate change. The share of transport in the GHG emissions is 17–19 %. The vehicle mileage has been increasing steadily (Finland - State of environment 2008, p 12, Finnish Road Statistics 2009, p 10-12). The emissions of many pollutants have, however, decreased in many cases. The carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide N2O are exceptions in this respect. The CO2 emissions have been in a steady increase that is estimated to continue. The N2O has also been increasing but it is expected that the emissions will start to decrease around 2009-2010.[1]


Recent studies of the development of the road transport demand[2] show that in 2007–2040 the volume would be about 46 500 million vehicle-kilometres. Compared to the 2007 level of c. 35 000 million vehicle-kilometres this would mean a growth of 34 %. The annual growth would decrease during this period from nearly 2 % to ½ %. The regional variations in growth range from 10 % to 51 %. The prognosis is based on the 2007 scenario of the population in 2040 (total increase 9 %, regional development, and age distribution).


The rail transport mileage in 2008 was approximately 32 000 gross tonnes kilometres hauled. The prognosis until 2025 is that the mileage will decrease by 2 000–3 000 due to the decreasing amount of diesel locomotive mileage in freight transport. All other main modes of rail transport are expected to stay at the recent level.


Greenhouse gas emissions

The GHG emission estimates for 2008 show that the emissions were 70.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The amount is clearly lower than the emissions in the two previous years, and is now 1.2 % below the Kyoto Protocol commitment level. The energy sector, including transport, produces the main part of the greenhouse gas emissions (Greenhouse gas emissions 1990–2008). The energy sector is also the main cause of the variations in emissions between years. Within the energy sector, the emissions from energy industries vary most from year to year (Emissions in the energy sector 1990–2008).

[1] LIPASTO is a calculation system for traffic exhaust emissions and energy consumption in Finland developed by the Technical Research Centre of Finland. The main page of LIPASTO gives access to the information also by transport mode.

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

In November 2008, the Finnish Government adopted a climate and energy strategy for Finland[1], with detailed insights into climate and energy policy measures up to 2020, and suggestions up to 2050. In October 2009, the Government adopted a more radical Foresight Report on Long-term Climate and Energy Policy which was published by the Prime Minister's Office in November 2009. The report presents the estimated emissions in 2050 using four different scenarios. In all cases, the 1990 emission level should be reduced by at least 80 % by 2050, and in one scenario, the reduction is over 90 %. The greenhouse gas emissions would be below 15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2050. The report presents the quantitative targets, different lines of action, and guidelines for the future measures.


Figure 1: Finland's greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 in the various scenarios

Source: Prime Minister's Office[2]

CC Figure1



For Finland, the Kyoto based EU burden-sharing target is to have the emissions 2008–2012 at the same level as in 1990. It seems evident that Finland will reach the target in 2012 (Tracking progress towards Kyoto and 2020 targets in Europe, Greenhouse gas profiles - Finland).


The increasing demands on mitigation are likely to emphasize the role of carbon sinks. One option is to consider Protected Areas (PAs) as contributing to the maintenance of carbon sinks by sequestering and storing carbon in natural ecosystems. Fifteen percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon stock – 312 Gigatonnes – are stored in protected areas around the world. Finland has a comprehensive nationwide protected area system covering some 15 % of Finland’s total area counting legally established protected areas and other areas reserved in nature conservation programmes including European Natura 2000 network sites. Finland’s dominant habitat type, boreal forests, contain a large terrestrial stock of carbon, stored mostly in soil and leaf litter, averaging 60-100 tC/ha ( Carbon sequestration may thus become an issue also in the management of protected areas. The fate and development of other sinks such as soil carbon and wood constructions are also likely to be discussed more in the coming years as part of a wider discussion on ecosystem services.

[1] Pitkän aikavälin ilmasto- ja energiastrategia Ministry of Employment and the Economy 38/2008 (in Finnish) with an English summary Climate Change and Energy Strategy 2008 summary

[2] Foresight Report on Long-term Climate and Energy Policy, Prime Minister's Office Publications 30/2009

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010


The Government's Long-term Climate and Energy Strategy of 2008 is a comprehensive package of different measures and the Foresight Report of 2009 emphasise several of the measures further. There has been an ambition to cover practically all sectors of society. The measures and projections for greenhouse gas emissions up to 2020 have been summarised in the National Communications (NC5) under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)[1]. (See also Report of the in-country in-depth review of the NC5 by UNFCCC)


It is expected that greenhouse gas emissions may vary considerably between years. The main reason for this is changes in the energy related emissions accounting for 80 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions. The overall objective is to reduce the emissions of GHG, increase the share of renewable energy and eventually also to reach a reduction in the use of energy. The goal is to increase the share of renewable energy to 38 per cent of total final energy consumption, to improve the efficiency of the energy system.


In spring 2010, the Finnish Government prepared a package of measures to increase the use of renewable energy and adopted a decision in principle on energy efficiency[2]. The EU directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (2009/28/EC) requires that in Finland the share of the renewable sources of the final energy consumption is 38 % by 2020. The estimate of final energy consumption in 2020 is 327 TWh of which 38 % is 124 TWh. The share of the renewable energy in 2005 was 87 TWh, and to reach the target, an additional amount of 38 TWh must be produced using renewable sources. This change would result in a decrease of 7 million tonnes in the CO2 emissions, and the decrease in the use of coal would mean an additional decrease of 2 million tonnes.


In addition to the general overarching strategies, the aim to curb the greenhouse gas emissions has produced a great number of different programmes, projects, and initiatives that involve the government, municipalities, enterprises, NGOs and private persons. At the municipal level, for example, the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority has a climate strategy for the Helsinki metropolitan region until 2030[3]. It seeks to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions by one-third of the 2004 level by the year 2030, achieving a level of 4.3 tCO2 per resident. This will amount to a cut of 39 % from the 1990 level.


The programme ‘ERA17 for an energy-smart built environment 2017’ (drawn up in 2010 by the Ministry of the Environment, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes) seeks to provide answers to the challenges posed to the built environment by climate change mitigation. When energy consumption and use required for construction amounts to over 40% of final energy consumption and nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, improving the built environment plays a key role in mitigating climate change and creating a competitive and sustainable society. If we include the impact of traffic, which is to a large extent defined by community structure, these figures are even higher. ERA17 provides a comprehensive action plan to improve the energy efficiency of the built environment, reduce emissions, and promote the use of renewable energy. The target is to be a pioneer in energy-smartness by 2017, the national jubilee year, and, by 2050, to make the Finnish built environment the best in the world. There are now 31 proposals for actions and measures[4], and according to the first impact estimates they will reduce the energy consumption of the built environment by approximately 20–30 % and greenhouse gas emissions by 10–35 % in 2010–2050.


In the project Carbon Neutral Municipalities (CANEMU), five Finnish municipalities have committed themselves to act as laboratories by striving to curb their carbon dioxide emissions ahead of schedule. The project aims at greenhouse gas emission reductions both in the near future (2-5 years) and in the longer term (6-20 years). Researchers, experts, businesses, politicians and local residents will together devise and tailor solutions that can reduce emissions, especially related to housing, transportation and foodstuffs.


The system for the Real time carbon dioxide emission monitoring presents the national and regional emission information. The five CANEMU municipalities are special cases and information on them is presented separately.


Information on climate change mitigation and adaptation will be systematically collected in a specifically designed Climateguide portal, which will organise climate change information. The portal will also provide access to practical tools for local and municipal planning and decision-making. The pilot version is now available and the portal opens in full in 2011.

Some of the essential sector-based national policies and strategies are presented in the publications



The issue of adaptation to climate change and the links between mitigation and adaptation is receiving increasing attention. The general basis is provided by Finland's National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Publication 1a/2005


R&D supporting mitigation and adaptation is ongoing. The Academy of Finland has launched a Research programme on climate change which will start in 2011 and Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation – has several programmes with climate orientation, for example Sustainable community 2007-2012.

[1] The National Communications are produced every four years, and Finland's fifth Communication was finalised in 2009.

[2] Government Decision on Energy Efficiency Measures, Ministry of Employment and the Economy

[4] Kirsi Martinkauppi (ed.): ERA 17 Energiaviisaan rakennetun ympäristön aika 2017. Ministry of the Environment, Sitra and Tekes (in Finnish, Summary in English)


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