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Wednesday's papers: Finland drags feet on climate change, rise in elderly crime, bear attack

Dailies discuss an imminent IPCC land use report, a 12 percent decrease in crime, and a rare car assault in Kuusamo.

Kuvakaappaus Karhulivestä
A bear attacked a vacant car in Kuusamo this weekend. Image: Johanna Laakkonen / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat reports on a new analysis from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the same group that ignited serious talk about climate change last autumn, when it said the world had to quickly work to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or face dire consequences.

A new report expected to be published tomorrow zeros in on land use, as it says getting rid of fossil fuels won't be enough. If we want to save the planet, we have to transform our agricultural system and add more carbon capture mechanisms. This means eating less meat, growing more plants and trees, improving crop varieties, and protecting forests, swamps and peatland, HS says, based on a draft of the report covered by the BBC.

Professor Markku Ollikainen, president of Finland's Climate Change Panel, tells the paper that Finland hasn't even taken the first concrete step towards cutting back emissions, although there's been "lots of talk and research projects". He says the solutions are obvious: First, Finland has to stop cutting down its trees at its current rate. Second, it has to protect its swamp and peatland.

Ollikainen tells the paper that he is happy to see that factions of new government coalition are more sceptical of plans to expand Finland's biofuel business.

"If big investments get the green light, the state could end up paying compensation for the increased emissions. This could run into billions of euros. It makes sense that the government is thinking carefully about its land use sector policies," he says.

HS cites preliminary data from Statistics Finland that says that in 2018 net carbon capture in Finland was at the lowest it has been since 1990. HS writes that this is because industrial wood harvesting has grown by seven percent since 2017.

"What is up with the over-65s?"

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports a 12 percent drop in crime in Finland. The decline is apparent in every age group but seniors, as crimes committed by people over the age of 65 have climbed.

Figures show that in a comparison of crimes from 2016-2018 and 2009-2011, even when adjusted for population growth, crimes committed by people aged 65-69 are up by 17 percent, with a rise of 33 percent for ages 70-74, and a shocking 47 percent increase for people over 75.

To be clear, IS explains, people over 65 still commit far fewer crimes than younger age groups, but the trend diverges from the others, as incidents of crime are steadily falling for everyone under 65.

The tabloid says it had a hard time finding an expert to comment on the trend, as no one seems to study crime among the elderly. Helsinki University professor of law Kimmo Nuotio says the explanation may simply be that older people are now much more active than they used to be.

IS says a closer look at the crimes in question backs up this theory, as three-quarters (75.6 percent) of the crimes committed by over-65s in 2018 are revealed to be traffic violations for speeding. As with the Finnish population overall, most of the crimes in question are therefore minor offenses.

But the figures also reveal a worrying increase in assault. At the same time that 'crimes against life and health' have fallen in other age groups, among over-75s they have grown by 28 percent in the last decade. In 2018, there were 66 reported offences of this nature.

Ursidae vs Kia

And the nation's second major tabloid Iltalehti features a story on a bear attack in northern Finland. Fortunately, the animal took out his frustration on a rental car and not people.

A couple from Austria holidaying in the north-eastern region of Kuusamo woke up last weekend to find that a bear had mauled their Kia rental car in the yard of the cottage they were staying in. The grisly attacker left scratch marks in the metal in several places, along with clumps of fur, paw prints and plenty of dirt.

The gob smacked tourists took photos of the damage to prove what had happened. Jani Tuulaniemi, who runs the FiRENT firm in Oulu that arranged the car for the couple, tells IL that it was a first in his six years in the business.

"There's been the odd collision with a moose or something like that, but never anything like this. When the Austrian couple sent me an email with the subject line 'bear attack to our car', I though it must be spam. It was hard to believe," he said.

The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation's communications manager Matti Nieminen says bears are peaceful animals that tend to stay away from humans. He speculates that a weak blueberry crop in the Kuusamo area may be responsible for the car attack.

"It has become very common in the USA for bears in national parks to attack cars, as they've learned that there is often food inside," said Nieminen.

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