Flying Finns Top Environmental Performance Index
Suomenlinna, Finland - photo credit marjattacajan and Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the eighteenth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Having examined the role of algae cultivation in reducing CO2 emissions last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on Finland.
‘The Flying Finns’ was a nickname given to the Finnish middle and long-distance athletes who dominated the podium at Summer Olympics from the Stockholm games in 1912 right up to the Berlin games of 1936. Eighty years later, Finland ranks highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI). EPI was launched by the World Economic Forum and scores countries according to their performance in two main areas: environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These areas are subdivided into nine categories such as ‘climate & energy’, ‘air quality’, ‘water & sanitisation’ etc. which are further supported by 20 indicators.
Latest data from Statistics Finland show that electricity generated from renewables are at record levels. A total of 29.5 TWh of electricity or 45% of all generation is derived from renewables. The use of hard coal, natural gas and peat fell by 29%, 15%, and 5% respectively in 2014.
Paris Agreement Targets and Carbon Tax
In previous weeks I have outlined the Paris Agreement Targets for respective countries. These targets use 1990 CO2 emmission levels as the base year from which each individual country’s reduction targets are set. For example, Finland plans to reduce emissions by 20%, 40%, and 80% -95% compared with 1990 levels by 2020, 2030 and 2050 respectively. Interestingly, in 1990, Finland introduced carbon taxes and was the first country to ever do so. Hence, it could be argued that Finland was 26 years ahead of the times!
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
Over the course of a five-year period from 2011 – 2016, the Carbon Capture and Storage Programme (CCSP) was developed in Finland. This research endeavour involving 18 industry partners and nine research institutes has received €15 million in funding, and has produced over 90 technical reports, 84 publications, and 38 peer-reviews. Some interesting findings have been published to date including the following:
Finland takes its commitment to Paris Agreement and UN Sustainability Goals seriously, and in fact is so close to achieving its 2020 Paris Agreement targets that it is already turning its attention towards 2030 goals. Finland has a long history and deep experience of combined heat and power (CHP) generation from biomass, the World’s largest biomass plant is situated in Vaasa, Finland. Finland is eagerly awaiting EU updates to emissions trading regulation and are ready and waiting should biomass be included in any updates to emissions trading.
Next week’s blog will profile Iceland and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.