Messukeskus, 29 March 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to warmly welcome you to this conference. It is very nice to see so many of you taking part in this topical event around bioenergy. I also want to warmly welcome our international colleagues to centennial Finland. This year Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence.
Finland has come a long way since 1917 and our forests have played a great role in our success story during the last hundred years. Being our most significant natural resource, forests also have an important role to play in the future.
As we all are aware, climate change needs to be mitigated. We need to achieve the challenging targets set in the Paris agreement and at the same time we need to keep our economies competitive. Our forests can play a significant part in all of this. Forests can provide us carbon sinks and sustainable materials, energy, products and services. All this is known as the bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy is a great opportunity for countries like Finland with vast forest resources and a strong forest industry. At the moment, over half of the Finnish bioeconomy is forest-based.
The share of renewable energy in Finland is already about 40 per cent. Eighty per cent of this is wood-based bioenergy. Furthermore, our aim is to increase the overall share of renewable energy to more than 50 per cent during the 2020’s. In addition, the share of renewable transport fuels will be increased to 30 per cent by 2030.
The Government has a new National Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030. It outlines the actions that will enable Finland to reach the targets set in the Government Program and also adopted in the EU climate and energy package for 2030. In achieving these targets, forest biomass will have a key role to play. In the future, the majority of forest-based energy will still be produced in market terms from the residues of the forest industry.
The use of agricultural, municipal and other industrial waste and residues in the production of heat and electricity as well as transport fuels will also be promoted. This will reduce environmental stress, promote the circular economy and create reference sites for clean bioeconomy and circular economy solutions.
For Finland, it is very important that the EU’s bioenergy sustainability policy provides continuity and consistency to secure and mobilise investments.
We are especially pleased that the proposed recast of the renewable energy directive contains binding minimum share requirements for the renewable energy in the transport sector.
The efforts of the Finnish government, civil servants and biofuel industry have borne fruit. For a long time, Finland has strongly supported EU policies to promote renewable energy and especially advanced biofuels in the transport sector.
On the other hand, we find that the commission’s proposal to use a list to define advanced biofuels is not the best possible way to do it. We would like to see a more general approach on this issue.
The decarbonisation of the transport sector offers great opportunities for Finland. We have the needed know-how to maintain our leadership in the area of advanced biofuels.
Discussions about renewable energy often focus on the electricity sector. For Finland, heating is also an important sector and the share of renewable energy in this area is already high. We are pleased to see that from the commission’s point of view, renewable energy in heating and cooling also has a role to play.
In Finland, high taxes on fossil fuels in heating have been one of the main drivers in decarbonisation of the sector. In addition, district heating in Finland is largely covered by the EU emission trading scheme. In Finland, the decarbonisation of heating and cooling is progressing well.
To ensure the necessary flexibility for Member States and to take better into account national, regional and local circumstances, any obligations to increase renewable energy in heating and cooling should be indicative.
We are not building the future energy system from scratch – on the contrary, energy infrastructure and other investments often have a long lifespan. A smooth transition to more renewable energy is a key question for all sectors.
With these thoughts, I wish you an interesting day in this conference.
Thank you very much