Friday's papers: Climate plans likely costly in Helsinki, Nordea cut off Russian clients, bird flu may have reached Åland

The newspapers of Finland on Friday reported about the government's newly-announced climate plans - one paper writes that the plans will pinch the pocketbooks of Helsinki residents. One paper reports that several personal and corporate bank accounts of Russian nationals were suddenly closed by Nordea Bank in South Karelia without much explanation. The H5N8 bird flu which has been spreading across Europe may have reached Finland's autonomous islands of Åland.

Tufted duck. File photo. Image: AOP

As Yle News reported on Thursday, the government's newly-announced energy and climate strategy focuses on cutting emissions from road traffic by rolling out a quarter of a million electric cars by 2030.

The plans also include for Finland to stop using coal by the year 2030, and Helsinki is very reliant on the black fossil fuel for its energy and heating needs.

According to an article in Hufvudstadsbladet, plans to dump coal will be rather expensive for the city - and the Helsinki's environment inspector Jari Viinanen says those costs will likely be passed on to city residents.

Both of the southern cities of Vantaa and Helsinki have clear, long-term energy plans which intend to reduce carbon emissions, the paper writes.

Viinanen told the paper that if the plans announced Thursday are implemented, Helsinki will be forced to completely revamp its current energy strategy. According to plans, he says, the city would be carbon neutral by the year 2050, but if the no-coal deadline is moved back twenty years to 2030, Helsinki will have to rethink its entire energy policy.

Both Viinanen and the power company Vantaa Energia's production manager Marko Ahl say they would prefer long-term plans not only for the country's energy policy but also taxation on various fuels.

Current taxation policy makes coal a significantly more affordable fuel than, for example natural gas, Viinanen says.

He says he also finds it odd that the government will continue to allow peat to be burned for fuel when it generates more greenhouse gases than coal, the paper writes.

Nordea Bank cuts off Russian clients

Business paper Taloussanomat reports that Nordea Bank in South Karelia closed the accounts of several of its Russian clients both this and last year.

The bank had reportedly justified the account terminations due to clients' not having Finnish residence permits or regular income. But according to the paper the claims astounded clients who say they'd successfully opened Nordea accounts and had been making payments on time.

Last year it was a number of Russian homeowners' accounts which were terminated and this year it was several Finnish public limited liability companies' accounts which were suddenly closed.

Citing customer confidentiality, the regional offices of Nordea Bank in South Karelia refused to comment about the treatment of its Russian customers, according to the paper.

A number of Finnish banks have stopped opening new accounts for Russian customers outright, due to interpretations of tightened regulatory measures the paper writes.

Bird flu on Åland?

The bird flu which has spread across Europe recently has now reached the south-western Finnish islands of Åland, Helsingin Sanomat reports.

The H5 virus was reportedly found in dead bodies of tufted ducks. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira says that it is continuing work on pinpointing the exact type of virus, and whether it is in fact the H5N8 type which has spread across several countries of Europe since October.

If the H5N8 virus is confirmed, the paper writes, a 10 km restricted perimeter zone around the area the affected duck bodies were found will be implemented, the paper writes.

Though it is difficult to pass to humans, it can occur. H5N8 can spread from wild birds to poultry. Earlier this week the first case of H5N8 was detected at a poultry farm in Denmark, according to Reuters. The last outbreak of bird flu in Denmark cost the country nearly 27 million euros in export revenue losses, Reuters reports.

According to the World Health Organisation the risk of transmission of bird flu to humans is low.

"Human infection with the A(H5N8) virus cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low, based on the limited information obtained to date," according to organisation.

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