Eco-Living Magazine

Finland Environmental Country Profile

Posted on the 24 May 2013 by Ecothoughts

Next country profile is up! I tried to include the most relevant areas and topics, and seeing how Finland has a large amount of environmental information available it was hard to pick and choose. If you have something you want me to change or add to one of the categories, feel free to let me know.
Finland Environmental Country Profile


Population:                                                           5,432,305 (April 2013 – preliminary)*
GDP:                                                                   €194 billion (2012)*
Industrial Production Growth Rate:                     8.8% (2010)*
Environmental Protection Investments:               €260 million (2011 approx.)*
Fossil Fuels in Production of Electricity/Heat:     Decrease by 21% (2011)*
Peat in Production of Electricity/Heat:                 Decrease by 12% (2011)*
Consumption of Hard Coal:                                 Increase by 31% (Jan – March 2013)*
Main Industries:  (Source:  Invest in Finland)
Forestry  - Finland is the largest wood pulp producer in the EU with regards to annual volume; two-thirds of Finnish wood is exported to the EU. (Source:  WWF)
Mining - concentrated in gold, platinum group metals, base metals, diamonds and industrial minerals.
Metals Sector – includes metals manufacture, the further refining of steel and copper products, zinc and nickel for use in the machine, vehicle, construction, electronics and electro-technical industries, and mechanical engineering where Finnish metal processing is well known for its efficient utilisation of energy and raw materials, and holds world-leading positions in a number of processes.
Chemical – is Finland's third-largest industrial sector and manufactures a huge range of products, many of which are used in other industries (such as forestry and agriculture). The products include plastics, paints, oil products, pharmaceuticals, environmental products and petrochemicals.
Cleantech – the overall turnover of the most prominent Finnish cleantech companies was 17.9 billion euros in 2010, with an annual growth rate of 5.6%; the main subsectors are Windpower, Biomass, Energy Efficient Construction, and the Water Sector.
Key Historical Environmental Issues:
Talvivaara Mine Leak:  In November 2012, the mine leaked heavy metals (such as cadmium and nickel) into its surroundings and nearby lakes. The uranium concentration in the water body has risen by 100-200 times its normal level. Greenpeace also reported that poisonous water started leaking out at a speed of 5 000-6 000 cubic
metres an hour. More information can be found here and here.
**Update** As of May 21 2013:  “Talvivaara staff halted the latest runoff of waste water from the nickel mine in north-eastern Finland on Tuesday after the River Lumijoki near the mine turned red and orange”. More can be read here.
Orivesi Goldmine Pollution:  In March 2013 it was reported that the Dragon Mining Company had been draining water into nearby lakes since it had started operations. Presently it is seeking an environmental permit to continue operations, however, a recent environmental study, which was required for the permit, found that the drainage water contained “significantly elevated concentrations of sulfates, nitrogen and metals”. More information can be found here.
Pollution, Environmental Issues & Main Contributors:
Water Pollution – According to the Finish Environment Institute, significant loads of pollutants enter water bodies in runoffs from farmland, managed forests or peat mining sites; in wastewater from municipal waste water treatment plants, industrial facilities, or livestock facilities; in effluent from fish farms; in wastewater from houses in rural areas with no public sewerage system; and in storm water from built-up areas, mines and quarries, or landfills.
Wildlife – According to the WWF, 60% of Capercaillie have been lost in the last 40 years due to forests being fragmented and habitat loss; about 700 forest species are classified as endangered because of forestry.
According to the European Environment Agency, the main drivers of climate change in Finland include:  the Finnish economy, in which energy intensive export oriented industries (pulp and paper, metals) are some of the main drivers behind Finland's high green house gas emissions per capita; increasing transports from and to Finland; changes in society that have lead to a concentration of the population into urban development regions and which have increased traveling distances within Finland plus the use of private cars instead of public transport; and the development of housing and built environments which also contributed to an increase in the use of energy and natural resources.
Acidification:  first became a problem in the 1960s, however, according to the Finnish Environment Institute, concentrations of sulfur compounds declined and buffering capacity increased in all types of lakes in Finland during the 1990s. Some 5 000 smaller lakes in Finland are now considered to be recovering well from serious acidification problems.
Mining Leaks:  although effects resulting from the recent mining leaks may not yet be present in the surrounding environment, these leaks can lead to loss of biodiversity, contamination of water bodies, soil, and wildlife, and, the poisoning of the environment.
Improvements/Action/Environmental Law:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  total emissions in 2012 decreased by some eight per cent (six million t CO2 eq.) from 2011 and the energy sector’s emissions decreased by around nine percent. They are at its lowest level since 1990 mainly because of reduced consumption of coal and peat and increased net imports of electricity. The target for Finland is 16 per cent by 2020.*
Foresight Report on Long-Term Climate and Energy Policy:  published in 2009 by the prime minister’s office, this report estimated emissions in 2050 under four scenarios, with the goal being to reduce emissions by 80% since 1990. Reports are consistently released tracking Finland’s progress to this and to the Kyoto emission targets. (Source:  European Environment Agency)
Water Protection Objectives:  As of November 2006 the Finnish government enacted a new set of water protection objectives up to 2015, the main objectives being to:  reduce the nutrient loads that cause eutrophication; reduce the risks associated with hazardous substances; reduce the harmful impacts of hydrological engineering and water level regulation; protect groundwater bodies; protect aquatic biodiversity; and restore ecologically damaged water bodies. (Source:  Finish Environment Institute)
Sustainability:  Finland has been top-ranked in the World Economic Forum's Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) since 2000 and is one of the first countries in the world to draft a major national programme addressing sustainable consumption and production, which aims to make Finland one of the most eco-efficient and competitive societies in the world by 2025. This is in response to the lack of stricter environmental legislation, technological improvements and products because of steep increases in total volumes of consumption. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
The Environmental Protection Act (86/2000):  obliges all businesses operating in Finland to be aware of their environmental impacts, risks of their activities, and of opportunities to reduce these impacts and risks. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
Pollution Liability:  polluters must provide financial compensation for any environmental damage they cause, and may be criminally responsible for infractions of their legal environmental protection obligations. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
Waste Policy and Legislation:  is based on the EU waste hierarchy, which sees waste prevention as the primary objective. Waste management objectives include:  recycling, recovery of the material, and using waste as a source of energy. Landfilling of wastes is acceptable only where it can be done safely, and the wastes cannot be reasonably managed in any other way. Environmental permits issued to enterprises may include detailed controls over the amounts of waste that can be generated and how they are to be managed. (Source:  Finnish Ministry of the Environment)
Key Environmental Groups:
Ministry of the Environment:  promotes sustainable development. The objective is to ensure a good, safe living environment and biological diversity, to prevent environmental damage and to improve housing conditions.
Finnish Environment Institute (SKYE):  is both a research institute, and a center for environmental expertise. SYKE forms part of Finland's national environmental administration, and mainly operates under the Ministry of the Environment; the Institutes's work related to water resources is supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Carbon Neutral Municipalities Project:  brings municipalities, businesses, citizens and experts together to create and carry out solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation:  is the largest non-governmental organization for environmental protection and nature conservation in Finland.
*According to the Official Statistics of Finland - Statistics Finland
All Sources Are Linked Above.

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