Climate change Climate panel: Finland’s carbon neutrality goal requires the maintenance of larger carbon sinks

The Climate Panel calls for urgent action to encourage forest owners and farmers to strengthen carbon sinks and reduce soil emissions.

Government says that if Finland intends to achieve carbon neutrality in the next decade, it will require rapid emission reductions in all sectors of the economy.

However, emission reductions alone are not enough, and at the same time Finland must ensure that the carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere increase from the current level. Forests are Finland’s most important carbon sink.

The statements are included in the report of the Finnish Climate Panel, which sets out recommendations on how the government’s goal of making Finland carbon-neutral by 2035 should be included in the Climate Act. The law is currently being updated.

Carbon neutrality means that greenhouse gas emissions are generated at most to the extent that they are absorbed by carbon sinks such as forests.

Climate panel the statement will come at a fiery time, as Metsä Group recently announced large investment in Kemi. The new pulp mill will increase the use of wood by an estimated 4.5 million cubic meters per year. This means increasing logging.

At the same time, the Climate Panel recommends that Finland should maintain at least the historic 21 megatonne net sink in the land use sector and increase it in the coming decades. The net sink consists of carbon bound to trees and wood products as well as emissions from the soil.

Current measures fail to strengthen the sink: in recent years, the net sink has repeatedly been below the historical average, and the climate panel estimates that the level will not be reached, at least during this decade.

Member of the Climate Panel, Research Professor Kristiina Regina however, says that afforestation is not the only way to reduce emissions from the land use sector.

“The debate on forest growth and logging is important, but we must not forget about the significant emissions from soil. For example, emissions from peatlands used for agriculture and forestry could be significantly reduced, ”Regina says in a statement.

According to the report, strengthening the net sink requires urgent policy measures to encourage forest owners, farmers and other landowners to strengthen the sinks and reduce soil emissions.

Provided failure to maintain sinks means even more stringent emission reduction targets for other sectors such as energy production, industry and transport.

The Climate Panel proposes that a clear reduction path towards carbon neutrality and then carbon negativity be recorded in the Climate Act. Emissions should be reduced by at least 60% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and by 2035 by 70%.

In 2050, emissions would be 90-95% lower than in 1990.

The Climate Panel believes that, for reasons of economic efficiency, climate action should focus on reducing emissions.

“Especially in energy production, heating and the use of industrial energy, the almost complete elimination of emissions is already technically possible in the light of the current situation through the electrification of the economic structure. With the reduction in the cost of electricity generation, emission reductions can also be achieved at a reasonable cost, ”the report states.

According to the climate panel, the necessary emission reduction measures are already known. They are listed, among other things, in the carbon neutrality plans of various industries.

“A key goal for the next three decades is to rapidly reduce emissions and strengthen sinks. Carbon neutrality is an important milestone, but it is not enough to meet the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement. Finland and other prosperous countries must make their fair share of global emissions reductions, ”Chairman of the Climate Panel Markku Ollikainen says in a press release.

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