News ID: 262884
Published: 1058 GMT December 13, 2019

Finland’s net carbon sink contracted by 43% in 2017–2018

Finland’s net carbon sink contracted by 43% in 2017–2018
RONI REKOMAA/LEHTIKUVA

The Finnish government has a lot of catching up to do if it intends to reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2035, reported Helsingin Sanomat, the largest subscription newspaper in Finland and the Nordic countries

Statistics Finland kindled doubts about the attainability of the goal by publishing preliminary data on the size of carbon sinks in Finland, revealing that they shrunk by as much as 43 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to helsinkitimes.fi.

The primary reason for the contraction was the record-high felling of industrial timber.

“This is an awful direction,” Sampo Soimakallio, a director at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), lamented in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.

“It’s definitely not towards a carbon-neutral society but rather towards a carbon sink-free one.”

“It’s alarming that we’re heading in the wrong direction.”

Statistics Finland reported that the net carbon sink in the land use, land-use change and forest (LULUCF) sectors stood at -9.8 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalents in 2018, representing a drop of 43 percent from the previous year and a new record low since the baseline year of 1990.

The net carbon sink is defined as the sum of emissions and removals of carbon dioxide-equivalents.

Finland, the preliminary data also shows, produced a total of 56.4 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalents in 2018, signaling an increase of two percent from the previous year. The increase was attributable especially to an up-tick in the consumption of natural gas and peat, according to Statistics Finland.

The emissions have decreased by nearly 14.9 million tons since 1990.

“We’re really in dire straits,” stated Soimakallio. “We have a little over 15 years to bring the balance back to zero, but it’ll be challenging to even halve the emissions if the sinks aren’t growing.”

The data is based on a preliminary report on last year’s emissions to be submitted to the European Commission by 15 January 2020.

Krista Mikkonen (Greens), the Minister of the Environment, told Helsingin Sanomat the preliminary data sends a serious message about the need to both foster the growth of carbon sinks and reduce felling.

“We’ll either have to consider reducing felling in state-owned forests […] or set a sink target for them,” she commented to the daily by phone from Madrid, Spain.

   
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