Environmental issues in Finland
Finland was among the top five greenhouse gas emitters in 2001: The consumption emissions per capita of greenhouse gases in 2001 of the top 5 countries were US 29 tonnes, Australia 21 tonnes, Canada 20 tonnes, Switzerland 18 tonnes and Finland 18 tonnes.1
Finland is a member of the EU and thus the EU directives are binding in Finland. Finland has approved Kyoto protocol. Finland has at state level approved that human indused greenhouse gases cause global warming. Despite this the most harmful use of peat as energy has been financially promoted by Finnish government since 2005. Regarding the climate change expenses, the Polluter Pay -principle has been neglected in Finland at least until 2011.
The environmental finance of Finland is 0.6% of budget when OECD average is 1.7%. In September 2011 there was a proposal to cut environmental finance with 5 million € including 18% cut in the nongovernmental environmental organizations support. The finance proposal included also cut in the biodiversity support. All the main nongovernmental national environmental organizations criticized finance proposals since Finland’s finance in the environmenatl issues is not sufficient, the fulfillment of the EU biodiversity targets is questionable, and the peat industry receive 50-fold more state support compared to the environmental organizations.2
Finnish government have not denied the use of phosphates in the washing powder as was valid in Sweden and Germany at least already in 2009. State intention is to deny phosphates after the European Union directive sets the demand in 2012.3
The car tax was cut in 2007 to support investments in new cars. The state arguments promised it to reduce traffic emissions by 0.37% a year. Environmental organizations considered the tax cut negative for the global warming. Politicians did nor explain, why some old cars would not remain also in the traffic and increase the overall emissions.4 In the use of the private car the upfront costs are a higher barrier than the annual or daily costs. Most cars are imported in Finland, which increases the foreign debt.
A large nickel mine located at Talvivaara leaked hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of tailings pond water containing toxic metals into the nearby environment in November 2012. The uranium concentration in the effluent rose by 100-200 times its normal level in the bottom and surface waters.5 Poisonous water leaked out at a speed of 5 000-6 000 cubic metres an hour.6 The mine has leaked also in 2008 and 2010. As a result, environmentally hazardous concentrations of nickel, zinc, cadmium and uranium were reached in the local river, exceeding the permitted yearly maximum in the environmental permit by a factor of 50.
The Dragon Mining had contaminated waters elevated levels with sulfate, nitrogen and metals in the Orivesi goldmine in March 2013. 7
- Which nations are most responsible for climate change? Guardian 21 April 2011
- Helsingin Sanomat 5.9.2011 C6
- Suomi on kieltämässä fosfaattipesuaineet yle 5.6.2009
- Ilmastonmuutos pahin uhka kansalliselle turvallisuudelle, Luonnonsuojeluliitto 25.11.2007
- Concern over toxic leak from Europe’s largest nickel mine in north-eastern Finland November 7, 2012
- A brief update on Talvivaara toxic leak Greenpeace
- Orivesi goldmine pollutes nearby lakes yle 14.3.2013
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