Finland has cost-efficient path to halve greenhouse emissions by 2030

22 January 2019 4 min. read

The future of Finland is greener – in more ways than one. A new study shows that plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half could also save the country money.

Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, commissioned the study, “Cost-efficient emission reduction pathway to 2030 for Finland,” from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. Sitra is an independent public foundation supervised by Finnish Parliament. 

Since 1990, the study states, Finland has reduced its emissions by 21%, “driven mainly by increased biomass use in power and heat production, decreased use of oil in heating and decreased landfill disposal of waste.” During that time, the ability of the country’s land and forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, known as a carbon sink, has nearly doubled.

CO2 emissions of Finland

But if Finland hopes to meet its commitments to the UN’s Paris Agreement of decreasing total emissions by 60% by 2030 – as well achieving the Finnish government’s vision of becoming carbon neutral by 2045 – the country must continue to make environmentally friendly moves. 

Of the total 60% decrease in emissions, a 50% decrease could be achieved by moving forward with the switch to electric vehicles and wind-generated power. Other key measures include greening the operation of heavy industry, and shifting from oil-powered heating in residential, commercial, and public buildings to heat pumps and electricity. This shift could potentially be accomplished in a cost-saving manner, and is a comparatively simple task to the process of bringing that percentage up to 60%.

To do so, Finland must transform its power system to support emission-free electricity amid growing demand and adhere to a national carbonation plan. “A national plan laying out the path to decarbonisation in every sector is important for creating clarity around climate targets and providing longer-term predictability beyond electoral terms. It should create a broad commitment to the 60% reduction target by 2030 as a milestone towards decarbonisation and build a shared understanding of the necessary abatement actions and their timings,” the report states.  

The government and regulatory bodies must also create policies and regulations in line with these efforts. The good news, however, is that “analysis suggests that implementation of the 60% target is not only technically feasible but also economically viable,” said Mari Pantsar, a director at Sitra. 

Electricity generation Finland

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the global temperature increase to below 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an ultimate goal of limiting that increase to 1.5C. This can only be achieved through “rapid and far-reaching” efforts to limit or avoid the most damaging aspects of climate change, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

In response to international attention on environmental matters, the global energy and resources consulting industry grew nearly 6% last year, and is now valued at approximately $15.5 billion – the fastest expansion of the market in four years. Energy and resource consulting make up approximately 12% of the overall market. 

Related: European countries top WEF and McKinsey Energy Transition Index