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Friday's papers: Marin's vaccine goals, battery superpower, 5 ways to beat climate change

Can Finland vaccinate enough people to end pandemic restrictions once and for all? Friday's papers want to know.

Sanna Marin has set a lofty target for vaccinations in Finland Image: Lehtikuva

With a new raft of restrictions announced for the capital region yesterday, tabloid Iltalehti asks (siirryt toiseen palveluun) when Finland will be able to open up again.

The paper reports Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) comments, made on Thursday, that restrictions could be removed once 80 to 90 percent of people over the age of 12 have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

In the tabloid's view, this could be hard to pull off.

"This is a very tough, if not close to impossible, target. In a survey carried out by the Economic Research Institute, 78 percent of people in Finland aged 15 and over intended to take the vaccine," Iltalehti writes.

But as the paper reports, experts Mika Rämet, Director of the Vaccine Research Centre, and Lasse Lehtonen, Head of Diagnostics at HUS, consider Marin's target to be achievable.

"The target is, of course, as high as possible. It's an ambitious but achievable target, given that well over 60 percent of people over 16 have already received the vaccine," Rämet said.

HUS' Lehtonen told the paper that Marin's aims were similar to his own.

"I have said at least 85 percent. 80 percent is the lower limit. A month ago, European researchers published an estimate in the Lancet [medical] journal, which considered 80 percent to be the minimum target. In that sense, the Prime Minister's comment is in line with the medical community," he said.

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Can Finland become a battery superpower?

National daily Helsingin Sanomat's economics section (siirryt toiseen palveluun) focuses on batteries this Friday. A new deal announced this week will see Norwegian battery company Freyr build a new plant in the west-coast city of Vaasa.

Giga-Vaasa is the name given to the city's drive to become a hub for battery production Image: Vaasan kaupunki

"The global race for battery manufacturing is accelerating, and Finland is a strong contender," the paper writes.

"Finland processes around 10 percent of the world's cobalt and nearly five percent of nickel," the paper notes. Both elements are key ingredients in the kinds of batteries that power larger items like cars.

"I wouldn't call it a superpower yet," Pertti Kauranen, Professor of Energy Storage at LUT University told HS.

"Finland is a unique country in Europe in that such a domestic value chain is possible at all," he added.

According to HS, the new plant is big news because, when complete, it will mark the first time the raw materials for batteries will be mined, processed and made into finished products domestically.

How can Finland help stop global warming?

That's what Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen (siirryt toiseen palveluun) asked Janne Kotiaho, Professor of Ecology at the University of Jyväskylä and Chairman of the Finnish Nature Panel after this week's IPCC climate report.

Kontiaho suggested five changes that people and municipalities in Central Finland can make.

Cutting back on extracting and burning peat will be crucial, Kotiaho told the paper Image: Ville Honkonen

First, Keskisuomalainen writes, is cutting back on eating meat.

"Public canteens should switch to a plant-based diet," Kontiaho told the paper, noting that a vegetarian diet has about a quarter the adverse climate impact of its beef-based counterpart.

Second, the paper writes, is building towns and cities that encourage walking and cycling.

"Zoning can be used to allocate building sites in a way that minimises emissions and harm to nature," Kotiaho said.

Third, stop burning peat. For Central Finland, abandoning peat burning and peat production would be the most important step to take, the paper writes, with Kotiaho adding that municipal energy companies must stop burning peat as a matter of urgency.

Fourth, make Lake Päijänne a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Biosphere reserves are model areas for sustainable development that promote sustainable use of natural resources, Keskisuomalainen explains.

According to Kotiaho, the status would also create new business opportunities for agriculture, forestry and tourism in the region.

And fifth, Kotiaho recommends replacing natural gas with biogas, often made from waste and plant products.

Some progress has already been made: Keskisuomalainen notes that biogas buses are already in operation in Jyväskylä.