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Greens chair skirts rumours of gov't climate policy tensions

On Friday PM Sanna Marin stressed on Twitter that the entire government is committed to responsible climate policy.

Maria Ohisalo
Greens chair Maria Ohisalo. Image: Emmi Korhonen/ Lehtikuva

Greens chair and Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo has largely avoided commenting directly on newspaper claims that the government has been riven by division over climate actions at a meeting held in eastern Helsinki in early February.

On Friday, daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that Ohisalo abruptly led her aides out of the meeting and that the Greens’ parliamentary group then held a crisis meeting about government cooperation. The paper reported that tensions arose among the government partners, specifically over the question of carbon sinks, including the issue of how much felling should be allowed in Finnish forests.

According to HS, Greens have floated the possibility of pulling out of the five-party government coalition if government shows no progress on climate actions.

"I will not get into internal discussions in the government or within the Greens, but it must be clear to everyone that when the goal of a climate-neutral Finland by 2035 was written into the government programme, it would not be easy," Ohisalo told journalists in Parliament on Friday.

Differences over concrete implementation of climate policy are especially stark between the Centre Party and the Greens, according to HS.

Ohisalo said however that new climate measures are expected to be hammered out during spring budget talks. On the agenda are items such as taxation on peat, which is expected to partly address energy tax reforms.

"It’s probably not news to anyone that the Greens are hoping that climate actions will move forward as quickly as possible," she commented.

PM issues rallying call

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sanna Marin broke from an EU summit in Brussels to comment on the reported government squabble via Twitter.

"The government is jointly committed to responsible climate policy and the government programme. As Prime Minister, my task is to ensure the implementation of the government programme in its entirety. As with other areas, climate decisions will be made on the basis of careful preparation," she wrote on Friday.

Left Alliance chair and Education Minister Li Andersson also weighed in on the issue via Twitter. She took issue with the HS piece, which she said gave the impression that there was only one party in government with ambitious climate goals.

"On the basis of the HS story, some online commentators seem to have drawn the conclusion that there is only one party in government that is pursuing an ambitious climate policy. That may well be the purpose of the leaks, but it is not accurate," Andersson declared.

"The entire government is committed to the most ambitious climate goals in Finland’s history. Its implementation requires a wide range of measures in different sectors, from energy taxes to transportation, so we can move forward together," she continued.

The government goal of carbon-neutrality by the year 2035 means that Finland will by that time produce only as much emissions as its carbon sinks – such as forests – can bind carbon.

By international standards, the goal is highly challenging. Most other European countries are aiming for carbon-neutrality by the year 2050.

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