Factory in Oulu, northern Finland. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Finnish parties find consensus at cross-party climate summit

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says that he thinks Finland is ready to do more to fight climate change, after he hosted all nine parliamentary parties at a meeting to discuss ways to keep warming due to climate change down to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
November 22, 2018

The parties agreed to set up a working group to establish concrete goals and measures to improve the country’s response to the threat of climate change.

The meeting was called after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported earlier in the autumn that the world had twelve years to act to try and prevent catastrophic changes in the earth’s climate.

“The goal is to outline what we can do more of, or the targets,” said Sipilä after the meeting at his Kesäranta residence. “And if we can, attach concrete measures to that, so we know what we’ll do in which area.”

Paris accord targets 

Sipilä invited the chairs of all parliamentary parties to meet after the IPCC report said that warming had to be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophe in line with the Paris accords of 2015, a tighter goal than the previous two degree target.

Markku Ollikainen, who chairs Finland’s climate panel, presented the problem and the possible measures that could help tackle it.

Although there was some disagreement over the methods needed, Sipilä said that there was broad consensus on the need for a step-change in action on climate change.

“There was quite a broad agreement that more should be done, and it should be done quicker, in order to achieve the targets set out in the Paris accords,” said Sipilä. “But now that it’s clear that more should be done, Finland looks to be ready to do it.”

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Tighter commitments 

Opposition parties were similarly positive about the initiative.

“It is good that different parties’ representatives discuss what Finland’s goals should be in climate policy,” said Left Alliance chair Li Andersson.

Green leader Pekka Haavisto was also thankful for the opportunity to discuss environmental issues.

“Every party put forward their own views on how ready they were for tighter commitments,” said the newly-appointed Green chair. “I think the discussion was constructive.”

SDP leader Antti Rinne agreed that the meeting was important.

“We said that the SDP is committed to this 1.5 degree goal and that Finland will be carbon neutral by 2035 and then soon after that carbon negative,” said the former union boss.

Carbon neutrality occurs when a country’s carbon dioxide emissions are the same as the amount of carbon dioxide captured and stored each year.


This story is posted on Independent Barents Observer as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

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