Climate professor Petteri Taalas shakes things up with his talk about Finland's carbon sinks


Climate professor Petteri Taalas wants to emphasize that fossil fuels are the core problem, not the much talked about carbon sinks in [email protected] at 8:30 p.m. /2022/07/climate-professor-petteri-taalas-speaks-of-the-carbon-sinks-of-finland-2f748b4.jpg” alt=”Climate professor Petteri Taalas stirs with his speech about the carbon sinks of Finland” />

  • Taalas gave this week Talk about Finland's climate action, which has since gained attention.
  • Taalas thinks that focus on carbon sinks is a special feature of Finland.
  • If Finland were to significantly reduce the use of forests, it could happen that the utilization of forests would move to countries where forest regeneration has not been managed as well as in Finland, Taalas says.

Attention in climate action carbon sinks have a special Finnish feature, says the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), professor Petteri Taalas.

Taalas spoke this week at Sääminki-Seura's climate symposium in Savonlinna, and the speech has attracted attention. Itä-Savo-lehti reported on Taalas' speech, and the paper formulated that Taalas spoke about Finland's “carbon sink delusion”.

Taalas tells Iltalehti that he looks at the climate debate from a global perspective. He says that globally, the most important thing for the climate is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, i.e. coal, oil and gas.

– Carbon sink is important, but it is not the core of the problem, the core is the use of fossil energy, says Taalas.

Is Finland's target too strict?

Finland's goal is to be carbon neutral by 2035, and an essential part of achieving the goal is to increase the carbon sink of forests, i.e. the ability to bind carbon from the atmosphere.

Taalas says that worldwide land use currently produces about 14 percent of the world's of emissions. The main problems are related to the destruction of tropical rainforests.

Taalas says that Finland and Sweden have handled their carbon sinks in a very exemplary manner in international terms. According to Taalas, increasing carbon sinks is emphasized in Finland because of the carbon neutrality goal.

– If we want to achieve the carbon neutrality goal of 2035, and giving up fossil energy does not happen at the same pace, it is needed. It's a political decision. An enhanced carbon sink is needed for that palette.

Do you think Finland's carbon neutrality goal is too strict or wrong in some way?

– It could lead to us having to pay even more attention to the carbon sink. I do not take a political position, it is partly a matter of political choice, what one wants to promote. The goal of the IPCC [intergovernmental climate panel] and the EU, and in general the welfare states, is to be carbon neutral in 2050.

Climate professor Petteri Taalas shuddering with his talk about Finnish carbon sinks

WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas says that Finland and Sweden have managed their carbon sinks quite exemplary in international analysis. PASI LIESIMAA

Transferring the use of forests elsewhere?

In Taalas' opinion, political decisions regarding the use of forests should be made taking into account the whole, which includes carbon sinks, biodiversity, economy, employment and property value.

– Sometimes it is also worth theorizing with the idea that if Finland significantly reduced the use of forests , what would happen in a global sense. It could happen that the utilization of forests would move to countries where forest regeneration has not been managed as well as in Finland, for example Russia, in which case the end result could even be negative in terms of the climate.

Taalas has received both criticism and praise for his speech in Savonlinna.

Chairman of the Finnish Climate Panel, professor Markku Ollikainencommented to Maaseudu Tulevaisuuu that he considers Taalas' claim to be unprofessional and irresponsible from the point of view of taxpayers. Ollikainen says that Finland is committed to the EU's sink goals. In his opinion, the main focus should be on reducing fossil fuels, but sinks offer a cost-effective way to compensate for emissions that are difficult or expensive to reduce.

Iltalehti asked Taalas how he responds to Ollikainen's claims.

– Finland has been setting those goals itself. It is a political question, what kind of goals one wants to set, commented Taalas.

Taalas has been praised on Twitter. For example, Mika Mäkinen, Communications Director of Forest Industry, writes that Taalas reminds us of the basics.

– The importance of carbon sinks is emphasized too much in the Finnish climate debate. The biggest problem is the use of fossil fuels, Mäkinen tweets.

– Back in the 1990s, the biodiversity discussion in the spirit of the Rio meeting mainly dealt with tropical forests. The same continued at the turn of the millennium, when I myself studied environmental science. Since then, that changed. Now the biggest problem is (also) in the north, the chairman of Fundamental Finns Riikka Purra tweets.

Ohisalo: the government will find out whether agricultural producers will be made to pay for land clearing 16.7.2022 13:17 Parliament approved the climate act – Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 25.5.2022 21:54 Analysis: Giant surprise from forest statistics – the government cannot ignore this 5/6/2022 7:30 Ohisalo demands that all old and natural forests be protected: “We cannot settle for less” 7/6/2022 3:43 PM The carbon sink of forests collapsed in a year – this is what it means 27/5/2022 5:02


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