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Growth in greenhouse gas emissions ended

Long-term progress:
Due to global greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen from pre-industrial 280 ppm to present 400 ppm.
Short-term progress:
Growth in emissions seems to have ceased in Finland.
Progress in relation to targets:
Finland’s Kyoto Protocol target for 2008–2012 has been met. However, this will not be enough to halt climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions and sinks in Finland 1990–2013

Greenhouse gas emissions
Source: Greenhouse gas inventory. Statistics Finland. 2015.

Still some way from a carbon-neutral society

Greenhouse gas emissions have reached their lowest level in twenty years. Finland also achieved the Kyoto Protocol’s goal of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008–2012 at the level of 1990. The average level of emissions in this period was almost 5% lower than in 1990.

Future targets will be stricter because, in terms of curbing climate change, the 1990 level of emissions is still far too high. In December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, an attempt was made to agree new international emission reduction targets, but no binding agreement was made.

The EU remains committed to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. By 2050, the EU aims to cut these emissions by as much as 80%. Even this may not be rapid enough.

In addition to reducing emissions, carbon sinks can be used to combat climate change. Forests are Finland’s key carbon sinks; carbon is sequestered in them as long as the annual increase in growing stock exceeds removal. Since 1990, the volume of forests has grown steadily due to the high share of young forest, more sustainable forest management measures, and drainage work previously undertaken.

To avoid accelerating climate change, Finland must aim at carbon neutrality. In a carbon neutral society, emissions would be low enough to be fully neutralised by carbon sinks.

Sources:

  • Greenhouse gas inventory. Statistics Finland. 2015.
  • National Energy and Climate strategy. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy. 2013.
  • Finland’s Fifth National Communication under the UNFCCC. 2009. Ministry of the Environment and Statistics Finland, Helsinki.
Published 2015-04-22 at 10:39, updated 2015-11-06 at 12:51