The first publication in the project is a working paper that highlights a variety of methods for ensuring fairness and justice during the transition. Together with the Finnish Environment Institute, Sitra charted the employment, financial, climate and environmental effects of peat production and the corresponding effects of stopping the use of peat fuel for the working paper “Giving up peat fuel – means for supporting a just transition in Finland”. The working paper lists five ways to promote a just transition and makes recommendations to decision-makers. Finland is in the process of looking for ways to achieve carbon neutrality. The reduction of emissions must be coupled with social support to ensure a socially and economically just transition for the peat industry.
The burning of peat fuel is currently responsible for nearly 12 per cent of Finland’s total greenhouse gas emissions, while employment in the industry accounts for 0.1 per cent of the Finnish workforce and the share of added value produced by Finland’s economy is less than 0.1 per cent.
According to a survey commissioned by Sitra, peat producers are interested in participating in the planning of a just transition.
“It is clear that the change involves a great deal of uncertainty about personal finances and livelihoods, not to mention the economic viability of whole regions,” says Specialist Tatu Leinonen of Sitra’s Climate Solutions team. “The interviews indicate that the voices of entrepreneurs and other operators in the peat industry need to be heard better.”
Giving the producers a voice through public debates
Sitra is launching a series of public debates to meet the needs identified in the interviews. The purpose of the debates is to bring all interested parties together to discuss obstacles and opportunities related to a just transition in Finland.
”We want to support the first steps of a just transition by organising public debates based on our working paper,” says Project Manager Outi Haanperä of Sitra’s Climate Solutions team.
Three debates will be held in early autumn. Sitra will compile the information and ideas gleaned from the debates and hand them over to interested parties, such as the broad-based peat industry working group.
Improved prospects for a just transition
The opportunities for achieving a just transition have improved markedly, since many replacement solutions for peat fuel are now available – and the cost-efficiency of these solutions is expected to improve further with advances in technology. Furthermore, both Finland and the EU have introduced instruments for expediting the transition.
The European Green Deal’s Just Transition Fund includes plans to channel funds to projects which can enable Finland to promote giving up peat fuel, to support the diversification of economic activities in peat-reliant key regions and to arrange retraining and supplementary training.
The broad-based peat industry working group began its work in March in accordance with the Government Programme. One of the working group’s tasks is to propose means for achieving a regionally and socially just transition.