Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy received updates on Finland’s and EU Biodiversity Strategies
On 11 May 2022, the Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy discussed biodiversity. A process is under way in Finland to prepare a new Biodiversity Strategy and the commitments for implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
At the same time, new international targets concerning biodiversity extending to 2030 and goals for 2050 are being negotiated in the context of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The targets are to be approved in Kunming, China in September 2022.
“Halting the loss of biodiversity requires an ecological transition in the whole society, which means changes in the economy, politics and culture. Besides biodiversity loss, we must focus on improving the state of nature,” says Emma Kari, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and chair of the Ministerial Working Group.
“Climate change causes biodiversity loss. By protecting and restoring our habitats we can also combat the impacts of climate warming,” Minister Kari says.
Preparation of National Biodiversity Strategy continues
Finland’s National Biodiversity Strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and bring biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030. The strategy should be ready in 2020, after which the work will continue with drawing up the action programme.
The strategy is prepared in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders. The process started in 2021 with the ‘Biodiversity Arena’ series of workshops, to which the Ministry of the Environment invited a large number of scientists and other experts. During 2021 work on the different themes of the strategy continued in working groups. This spring the Finnish Nature Panel, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and other representatives of the scientific community have commented on the targets.
A Citizens’ Jury composed of Finnish people selected by random sampling will be organised in June to collect carefully considered views of the people for the preparation of the strategy and action programme. The Citizens’ Jury will help to identify the key issues in biodiversity loss from the citizens’ perspective and which actions are considered fair and just.
Finland’s commitments to implement EU Biodiversity Strategy in preparation
The aim of the EU Biodiversity Strategy is to halt the loss of biodiversity and reverse the negative trend in biodiversity and bring it on the path of recovery by 2030. The European Commission is expecting the Member States’ commitments to implementing the strategy during this year.
In these commitments the Member States will specify the actions by which the targets concerning the surface area to be protected and the conservation status of species and habitats will be reached. A working group appointed by the Ministry of the Environment will draft proposals for the actions Finland will commit to during 2022. In Finland, an important principle in reaching the targets is that the actions must be voluntary. The Helmi Habitats Programme and Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO that are based on voluntary action support the achievement of the targets.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy lists 17 key objectives to which the Member States have committed. Three of these are concerned with the network of protected areas. The objectives include increasing the surface area covered by protection to 30% of the land and sea areas in the EU in such a way that at least one third of this will be strictly protected. Fourteen of the objectives are related to improving the state of nature in different habitats. The Commission is expected to give a legislative initiative on the binding targets for the state of nature this summer.
The ministers have also received a report that assesses the functioning and development needs of energy taxation. According to the report, drawn up by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland to the Ministry of Finance, the present taxation model works quite well. Energy tax models were assessed from the perspective of the central government’s tax revenue, trends in greenhouse gas emissions, competitiveness of industry and social justice. The report published in 2022 examines the energy taxation of heating, industry and non-road mobile machinery and the taxation of the use of electricity.
Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
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The task of the Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy is to guide and direct the implementation of the Government Programme with respect to promoting the carbon neutrality target, strengthening of carbon sinks and decision-making on climate and energy policy, while also taking into account social justice and international competitiveness.