Finland’s new government goes for carbon neutrality

10 June 2019

Finland’s new centre-left coalition government on 4 June said Finland plans to be carbon-neutral by 2035 and to achieve negative carbon dioxide emissions shortly after, with nuclear power continuing to provide low-carbon energy.

The policy, “Inclusive and competent Finland - a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society”, noted that Finland has reduced its emissions by more than 21% compared with 1990 levels and will achieve the EU's 2020 climate goals ahead of target, but emissions would have to be reduced further to meet the 1.5 degree climate goal. "This is achieved by accelerating the emission reduction measures and strengthening the carbon sinks," it said.

The government will update Finland's Climate Act, setting emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 "that correspond to developments towards climate neutrality". It also intends to evaluate its goal for climate neutrality in 2025. "The evaluation will take into account, among other things, the latest scientific information, technological developments, other countries' emission reduction commitments and opportunities for international flexibility.” A ministerial working group will be set up to focus on climate and energy issues, and review climate policy.

Finland had already agreed to end the use of coal end by May 2029; the use of peat (its main source of energy) during the 2030s; and the use of oil for heating by the early 2030s. "Electrification of society and the integration of various energy systems (for electricity, heat and transport) requires a significant increase in renewable energy production," the document said. The renewal of operating licence for existing reactors would be viewed positively provided the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) recommends it.

Finland currently has four operating power reactors: two VVER-440 pressurised water reactors at Loviisa, licensed to operate until 2027 and 2030, and two boiling water reactors at Olkiluoto approved to operate until the end of 2038. The EPR under construction at Olkiluoto 3 is scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2020, while the first VVER-1200 unit being built by Russian state nuclear corporation at the new Hanhikivi site in Northern Finland is expected to start commercial operation in 2028.   “Finland will strive to become the world's first fossil-free prosperous society,” the document said. The Social Democratic party leader, Antti Rinne, who formed the five-party alliance of centrist, leftist and Green parties  said it was time to “invest in the future” after years of austerity



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