Significant fall in Finland’s carbon sink reserves

Finland's carbon sinks saw a big drop in 2018 compared to the year before, with the Environment Minister Krista Mikkonen saying the direction is "worrying"

File picture showing aerial view of Finnish forest with road through the middle / Credit: iStock

Despite an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, the latest data on Finland’s carbon sinks and forests is not encouraging.

Statistics Finland shows record-breaking forest cuts and a drop in the nation’s carbon sink reserves.

A carbon sink is a natural reservoir like a forest that soaks and stores carbon-containing chemical compounds, and according to the latest research Finland’s carbon sinks shrank by up to 43% in 2018 compared with the year before.

“We have to figure out how to reduce logging in state-owned forests and set a sink target for them” Environment Minister Krista Mikkonen (Green) told Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

“The direction is worrying. If we are to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, caring for carbon sinks is important. The sink must be set up for growth in the short term and long term as well otherwise emissions reductions must be made by other means” she says.

With large areas of forests – carbon sinks – Finland is allowed to to offset the emissions it creates against the emissions the forest soaks up, making the forests an important tool to becoming carbon neutral.

Environmental group urges action

Greenpeace Finland is urging the government to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the problem.

“We are at the stage where the government must sit down for emergency talks. A 43% drop in a year is not a small matter. Rather, it requires a serious analysis of the situation about why this is happening, and what can be done” says Greenpeace.

“Finland is committed to the International Climate Convention, the Biodiversity Convention and the Sustainable Development Goals. This [logging and carbon sink drop] development goes against all of those” international initiative says Sini Harkki Programme Manager for Greenpeace in Finland.

According to Statistics Finland, greenhouse gas emissions in Finland rose to 56.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018 – which is 2% more than the previous year.

The increase is likely due to an increase in the consumption of natural gas and peat.