Finland, On Its Way To Becoming The First Nation To Eradicate Coal From Its Energy Production For Good
Finland plans to completely phase out coal burning by 2030 which is part of the country’s goal to achieve total carbon-neutral energy production by 2050. This is a pretty ambitious step and it would make Finland the first nation to cut ties with a fuel that has been used throughout history but is no doubt one of the most polluting fossil fuel that exists. This step will be a movement towards meeting the demands of the international carbon emissions goals that were set in Paris last year.
Other nations have similar plans
Various other nations have made similar plans on becoming carbon neutral but every nation has a different approach on achieving this goal. UK and Canada have announced their plans on becoming carbon neutral in the next 10 and 15 years respectively. Both these nations plan on the continued operations of coal plants as long as the plants are equipped with carbon capture and storage. According to what energy policy researcher Peter Lund from Finland's Aalto University told Sally Adee at New Scientist, this particular approach comes with a lot “more degrees of freedom” as compared to the Finnish strategy of putting an all-out ban on coal for energy production. Lund said, "Basically, coal would disappear from the Finnish market," According to Finland's Economic Affairs Minister, Oli Rehn, "Utilizing the potential of Finnish renewable energy to produce electricity at an industrial level is one of the central questions in achieving long-term energy and climate goals."
This is not the only plan that Finland plans on achieving, they nation intends on a reduction in imported fuels including petrol, diesel, fuel oil etc and plans on bringing imports to half 2005 levels in the 2020s. This seems to be a big step indeed, but the question remains that how will they achieve this and how will they manage without the oldest sources of energy? One way the country plans on helping this plan is by boosting electric cars to nearly 250,000 by 2030 and vehicles on biogas to about 50,000. The plan sounds very noble indeed but the country’s energy sector is not very pleased. They argue that this ban on coal will jeopardize the energy sector which is true in a way but Rhen seems resolute. He said earlier this month in an interview, “Finland is well positioned to be among the first countries in the world to enact a law to ban coal. Giving up coal is the only way to reach international climate goals."
The nation may be able to do this effectively for a fact that the coal only accounts for a small chunk, 8%, of its electricity production. The primary source of energy is nuclear power (33%) followed by hydro power (25%). After the ban the country will continue to burn peat, a fuel that is produced domestically, and it outnumbers the coal production by approximately 3 times. In 2014, peat accounted for nearly 4% of Finnish energy production whereas coal accounted for about 9%. Renewable energy is also on a rise in Finland and currently accounts for 40% of the energy production and if all goes will it will rise to 47% by 2030. The Centre Party currently leads the Finnish government and if it is able to get enough support in the parliament for its coal strategies, the plan alongside with others from UK and Canada could set up a great precedent for the rest o the world. Lund said, “These moves are important forerunners to enforce the recent positive signals in coal use. The more countries join the coal phase-out club, the better for the climate, as this would force the others to follow."
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