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Finnish forest lobby gets big win in Strasbourg

Finnish efforts to amend a climate change directive to help the forest industry were successful on Wednesday in Strasbourg, where MEPs voted in favour of the amendment that would allow more logging in Finnish forests. 

EU:n lippu Brysselissä
Image: Olivier Hoslet / EPA

The Finnish forest lobby won a big victory at the European Parliament on Wednesday when a directive on carbon sinks was amended to their liking. The Land Use, Land Use Change and forestry regulation had aimed to ensure Europe's forests provide a long term repository for carbon to help neutralise emissions.

The EU had planned to cap the use of forestry to the same levels as those between the years of 1990 to 2009. Under the amended regulations, the amount of logging can increase so long as the forests' carbon storing ability remains the same or grows by 2050.

Trees are important carbon sinks and every year soak up around 10 percent of Europe's emissions.

"Regrettable" discussion

Finnish MEP Nils Torvalds of the Swedish People's Party, who proposed the amendment along with the European People's Party, claimed that the vote would continue to protect the goals of the Paris climate agreement, while at the same time help the Finnish forestry industry.

Dissenter Heidi Hautala, a vice-chair of the Green caucus in the parliament, had other ideas. She wrote on Facebook that the amendment was a setback for efforts to fight climate change.

"At this critical moment there isn't time for this," said Hautala. "The EU has to take a lead on combating climate change. It's regrettable, how aggressively and deliberately this has been lobbied in Finland. That has prevented issues-based discussion of climate change."

The EU's Council of Ministers will decide the EU's final position on the directive next month.

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