One half of the environmental impacts of Finland are generated abroad
SYKE and the Ministry of the Environment
Of the global environmental impacts caused by Finland, about one half are generated outside the country. The major part of the emissions that contribute to the climate change are generated within the country – the emissions abroad amount to 70-80 % of the domestic emissions. For several other types of environmental impacts, the proportion of impacts outside the country is higher. Finland is using as much natural resources abroad as within the country. These results were obtained at a research project coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute. A surprising result was that domestic services cause more environmental impacts than what has been assumed.
The ENVIMAT model, developed by the Finnish Environment Institute, the Thule Institute at the University of Oulu and MTT Agrifood Research Finland, gives a comprehensive picture of the environmental impacts of the Finnish national economy. The project was carried out as a part of the Environmental cluster research programme coordinated by the Academy of Finland.
The environmental impacts of the Finnish national economy are comprised of the effects of import as well as domestic production and consumption. Furthermore, these global impacts caused by the Finnish economy can be divided into the effects of production of export articles and of domestic consumption and investments .
The ENVIMAT model revealed that domestic consumption and investments cause more than one half of the global environmental impacts of our national economy. Slightly less than one half of the environmental impacts of Finland are caused by the production of export articles. The climatic impacts s of domestic consumption were somewhat larger than those of export industry. Of other environmental impacts (e.g. acidification), about 45 % were caused by export industry during the examined years 2002 and 2005. If we apply the principle that the consumer is the one who causes the impacts, the effects of the production of export goods should be regarded as effects caused by the purchasing countries. Correspondingly, Finland is responsible for the environmental impacts of the production of import goods used in Finland.
The quantity of natural resources used by Finland is divided about equally between Finnish and foreign natural resources, if we include the material flows that are not used for production (e.g. wallrock from mining, logging residues). Slightly more than one half of the use of natural resources is attributed to the export industry. The material flows needed for consumption and investments in Finland are rather large according to international comparison, mostly due to the large land masses used in construction.
Environmental impacts of services are surprisingly large
When the impacts of export industry are filtered off, the major part of the remaining impacts are caused by housing, food, and private cars. The rest – the impacts of housing services, public transport and other services – comprise less than 40 %. Even if the environmental impacts of services are small per service unit, the large total volume of services means that the sum impact is large. It is not obvious that consumption or services rather than goods means less emissions. Calculation of the multiple and second-round effects of goods and services by the ENVIMAT model may help to steer consumption in a more sustainable direction.
An internationally unique tool for analysis
The results of the ENVIMAT model can be used as a basis for discussion on the environmental impacts of private consumption and possible means to reduce the impacts of consumption.
The model makes it possible to carry out comprehensive and detailed analyses of environmental impacts. Even from an international perspective, ENVIMAT is an unusual tool. Moreover, it can be used to calculate the effects of human activities on other variables, such as employment and surplus value. The model can be used to survey the effects of various activities on the levels of production chains and national economy. In the future it will be used for studies of chronological development, for monitoring of sustainable development, for planning of measures for controlling the climate change, and for identifying various change factors and estimating their impacts.
Environmental impacts, using the ENVIMAT model, further development, conclusions
Mr Jyri Seppälä, professor, responsible leader of the project, Finnish Environment Institute, phone 040 740 1708
Input-output model, material flows, natural resources, use of energy
Mr Ilmo Mäenpää, docent, University of Oulu, Thule institute,
phone 040 531 9749
Project coordinator, environmental impacts of import, natural resource
Ms Sirkka Koskela, senior research scientist, Finnish Environment Institute, phone 0400 148 811
Use of the model, ecotoxicity, land use
Mr Tuomas Mattila, research scientist, Finnish Environment Institute, phone 0400 148 769
Mr Ari Nissinen, research specialist, Finnish Environment Institute, phone 0400 148 813
Production and consumption of food
Mr Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, senior research scientist, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, phone 050 3599 772
Ms Merja Saarnilehto, senior adviser, Ministry of the Environment,
phone 0400 232 763
Ms Ulla Ahonen, information officer, Ministry of the Environment,
phone 050 524 5269, email@example.com
Ms Sirpa Pellinen, chief information officer, Finnish Environment Institute, phone 040 740 2754, firstname.lastname@example.org