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EU climate package impacts transport in Finland

The EU unveiled an ambitious climate package on Wednesday to reduce carbon emissions across the bloc.

Kaksi henkilö katseleen auringonlaskua Espoon Hanasaaressa.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

The EU announced a massive climate package on Wednesday that aims to push the bloc towards carbon neutrality by 2050, a target Finland has said it wants to achieve by 2035.

The raft of proposals covers a range of sectors—from industrial emissions to housing, agriculture and forestry. But as transport emissions account for a quarter of all EU greenhouse gases, many measures will home in on car and air travel.

Electric cars and rising fuel prices

After 2035 the EU wants all new cars to be emissions free, effectively resulting in a ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

"Finland tried to influence the EU to still include petrol cars in the deal, but unfortunately both the EU Commission and car manufacturers seem to only want to move forward with electric vehicles," Transport Minister Timo Harakka said on Thursday.

The transition will, however, be gradual as people buy new cars. To speed up the switch to zero-emission electric vehicles, the Commission proposed a maximum distance of 60 kilometres between charging stations on major roads by 2025. Last year Finland initiated a 5.5-million-euro programme to install thousands of charging stations across the country.

That said, petrol and gasoline fuels could become more expensive in the move towards cleaner vehicles.

The carbon revamp will see heating bills rise for those using fossil fuels to warm their homes, as residential buildings would join emissions trading schemes paying for the right to pollute.

In the future, power companies will have to purchase carbon credits for burning coal, natural gas, peat and oil—energy sources widely used in Helsinki.

Proposals also target airlines. New taxes on aviation fuel will encourage the flight industry to increase its use of renewable energy sources, though carriers may pass costs on to passengers.

Consumers will eventually also pay more for goods manufactured using fossil fuels.

A governemnt release on Wednesday said the Commission had set Finland a 50 percent emission reduction target by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

The broad package of measures is still in a preliminary stage, and member states will now engage in bilateral negotiations with the Commission, with some countries likely to seek financial incentives to cut emissions.

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