Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Interview

Finland: Time for EU to lead on environment

  • Climate march in Helsinki. Finland should be carbon neutral by 2045, says its environment minister. (Photo: Timo Heinonen)

The EU should spend less time drafting new environmental laws and devote resources to implementing what was already agreed, Finland's environment and agriculture minister Kimmo Tiilikainen said on Monday (27 February).

“If all our time is spent on new legislation, new small details, then implementation suffers,” Tiilikainen said in an interview with Bloomberg, Politico, and EUobserver.

  • Tiilikainen: 'If our time is spent all the time on new legislation, new small details, then the implementation suffers' (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

“If my civil servants in the ministry of environment and the ministry of agriculture, if all of their activity and working time is spent to evaluate new proposals from the Commission and to negotiate them, who takes care of implementation?” he added.

Tiilikainen spoke on the eve of a meeting of environment ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, where the European Commission will present a review of how EU environmental laws have been implemented at national level.

The review, published earlier this month, praised Finland for its protection of conservation sites, but said air quality around Helsinki should be improved.

The Commission also said pollution from agricultural activities was damaging water quality.

“The review showed that we are doing pretty well, we have some things we can do better,” said Tiilikainen.

He said the review exercise was important.

“You have to stop and see what you’ve done. What kind of performance you have and compare it with some other countries and see if you’re doing a good job,” said Tiilikainen.

Emissions trading

Climate change is also on Tuesday's EU agenda.

Ministers will try to reach agreement on the future of the EU's emissions trading system (ETS), which has been plagued by carbon permit prices that are viewed as being too low to discourage polluters.

“It's time for the EU to decide on ETS,” said Tiilikainen.

“For the EU, it's important that we can … give a signal that our implementation of the Paris agreement is going on,” he said, referring to a multilateral climate deal that entered into force last year.

“It's time for the EU to take leadership one more time again,” the Finnish minister added.

Agriculture

Tiilikainen, whose portfolio also includes agriculture, said that “all sectors” should reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but not much has changed in Finnish farming.

In 2005, Finland's agricultural sector emitted the equivalent of 6.4 million tonnes of CO2. Ten years later, that increased slightly to 6.5 million.

“We … need food for our people,” said Tiilikainen, adding: “It's very difficult to reduce agricultural emissions without cutting production.”

Plant-based diets are more climate friendly than meat-based ones, but the Finnish politician declined to advocate one or the other.

“Each individual person decides his or her diet according to health reasons or environmental reasons,” he said. He said he would not pursue policies that “pushed” people to change what they eat.

CO2-neutral

Tiilikainen wants Finland to become carbon-neutral by 2045, meaning net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

His announcement came just weeks after Sweden released a similar 2045 carbon-neutral statement.

“Both for Finland and Sweden, we would like to be the forerunners,” he said.

“If we have the same target as Sweden, I think we can even work together for those targets,” he added.

EU and 195 countries adopt Paris climate accord

Deal cements new bottom-up approach which involves pledges by every UN state to reduce greenhouse emissions, as well as a review mechanism to jack up ambition every five years.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  2. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  3. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  4. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them
  5. Turkish referendum voting starts in Europe
  6. Le Pen says she lacks election funds
  7. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks
  8. Nato moves summit forward so US can attend

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans