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Finland won’t achieve Paris targets with current emissions commitments

A Sitra report finds the EU and Finland need to do more to meet the Paris climate pledge.


Current European Union (EU) and Finnish emission reduction commitments do not reflect the Paris climate agreement, according to a new report commissioned by Sitra. The EU and Finland have to set much higher emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050, and this will require a more ambitious energy and climate strategy from governments.

In December 2015, the countries of the world approved a historic climate agreement at the Paris Climate Conference. The agreement aims to keep climate warming well below two degrees and strives for action that would limit the increase to just 1.5 degrees. This ambitious agreement requires all countries to take climate measures, with the effectiveness of the measures being assessed every five years.

“Each country has to update its emission reduction targets to comply with the Paris Agreement,” says Mari Pantsar, Director of the Resource-wise and carbon-neutral society theme area. “The report commissioned by Sitra provides methods to take Finnish and EU emission targets in the right direction. The results of the report should be taken into account in the ongoing energy and climate strategy preparation work.”

Produced by the independent Climate Analytics science and policy institute, the report examines the effect that the Paris climate agreement will have on emission reduction targets set by Finland and the EU for 2030 and 2050. It shows that the current Finnish and EU emission reduction targets fall far short of the reductions required by the Paris Agreement.

“Ratification of the Paris Agreement is the first step, but we have to acknowledge that our emission reduction targets are not in line with the agreement and need to be much bigger. In practice, this means bringing Finland’s total emissions to zero before the middle of the century, which means a revolution in terms of renewable energy,” says Pantsar. “We must have stricter emission targets and take the necessary actions or we will be outsourcing our responsibilities and assuming that other countries will do more than Finland to limit climate change.”

Researchers used modelling to calculate the emission reductions needed by Finland and the EU in order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. Two complementary approaches were used in the calculations: economy and fairness. The first approach examines emission paths that are economically and technologically viable and minimise overall global costs. The second approach assesses what would be Finland’s and the EU’s fair share of emission reductions.

In the economic model, in order to do its fair share, Finland should reduce its emissions by about 60% from the level in 1990 by 2030 and 130% by 2050. The EU’s current targets are to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80 to 95% by 2050.

Reducing emissions quickly saves money

Meeting the obligations of the Paris climate agreement means big changes in energy production and consumption. The focus will be on emission-free energy production and more investment in energy efficiency.

“In the future, along with reducing emissions, we will also have to bind some of the greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere. There’s still a lot of uncertainty concerning methods, but we have to invest in research, development and experiments now if we want to see broad implementation in the next decades. Being active now can make Finland an international leader in this area,” says Senior Advisor Oras Tynkkynen.

The energy modelling performed by the Climate Analytics researchers identifies one possible way to reach the emissions targets in an energy economy. We are improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy, and reducing fossil fuels use at a fast pace.

“The need to reduce emissions is already urgent and Finland is committed to change,” says Pantsar. “Rapid reducing of emissions also saves money, because it will decrease the cost of large and expensive emissions cutbacks needed later and reduce the number of poor investments. This is also a great opportunity for growth, as the cleantech market will worth as much as 6,000 billion euros by 2050.”

The Climate Analytics report can be downloaded here.

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