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Greens' chair: Peat “has no place in the energy production of the future”

While the party chair spoke out on energy, Environment Minister Krista Mikkonen took on the barnacle goose issue.

Maria Ohisalo puhuu vihreiden etänä järjestettävässä puoluekokouksessa Helsingissä.
Greens chair Maria Ohisalo addressed the virtual party congress on Saturday. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The leader of the Green Party, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, promised on Saturday that government decisions during this past week's budget talks will dramatically cut Finland's use of high-polluting energy sources. These include peat, which she said “has no place in the energy production of the future”.

Ohisalo was addressing the Greens’ party congress, which began remotely on Saturday, after two previous postponements. It was originally scheduled for late May in Joensuu, eastern Finland.

In her address from Helsinki’s Hernesaari district, Ohisalo said the government’s decisions will ensure that the use of peat for energy will drop by at least half by the year 2030.

The centre-left cabinet decided to raise taxes on heating fuels by more than 100 million euros, targeting coal, heating oil and natural gas as well as peat.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the carbon dioxide emission intensity of peat as higher than that of coal and natural gas. Peat adds more than 10 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide to Finland's annual greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to that from all passenger cars in the country.

Mikkonen: Geese resting areas to limit crop damage

Earlier on Saturday, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen suggested that bogs previously used for peat production could be designated as resting areas for barnacle geese. Mikkonen said that this would help to limit crop damage from the waterfowl. Their population has grown rapidly in recent years, spurring a heated debate.

Interviewed on Yle’s Ykkösaamu talk show on Saturday, Mikkonen said that such areas where the geese could congregate undisturbed should be set aside soon.

“It’s important that by spring we establish areas for the geese where they can stop and eat. As a result, they would leave other fields alone and crop losses could be prevented,” she said.

On Sunday the congress is to decide on the party’s new programme. No personnel changes are expected. Ohisalo has been party chair and interior minister since June 2019, when Mikkonen became environment minister. The Greens are the third-largest of the five government parties, with 20 seats in the 200-member Parliament.

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