Finland takes up environmental challenges for EU Presidency

Finland´s Minister of the Environment Ms. Satu Hassi reassures representatives of environmental organizations: Finland accepts the "green challenges" presented by Finland´s EU Presidency.

“Sustainable development is one of the main challenges for Finland´s Presidency. This also comes out in the ten-point test programme that the European Environmental Bureau has presented for this period,” says Ms. Satu Hassi, Finnish Minister of the Environment, as the representatives of the board of the European Environmental Bureau, EEB, presented their wish list for the new Presidency period.

“The unofficial council of environment ministers will address the most challenging items on the EEB test programme this weekend in their discussions on how environmental considerations may be brought to bear on all Union activities, and on the environmental impacts of the enlargement. The ministers will send messages to the other councils on how to take account of the environment in decision-making and policies in other sectors.

“The second theme for the unofficial meeting of environment ministers will be the environmental impacts of the enlargement, particularly as related to climate change. This theme will be discussed with the ministers of the applicant countries. This is the only ministerial meeting during the Finnish Presidency to which ministers from the applicant countries have been invited,” Ms. Hassi affirms.

According to Satu Hassi, the recent report of the European Environment Agency clearly indicates that unless environmental considerations are integrated into all other sectors, such as energy, traffic policies and agriculture, the state of the environment will not improve. “Continuing with the present policy will not be enough to achieve the goals of the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Convention. We need environmental taxation, additional inputs into renewable energy sources, and a shift from road to rail transports, in addition to more public transport and light traffic. In actual fact, the Kyoto goals should really be tightened by 30-35% for the climate not to warm up more than 1.5 degrees during the next hundred years,” Minister Hassi points out.

“The proposal by the EU Commission that the share of renewable energy should be doubled will not suffice without the use of fiscal instruments, new technology and wider application of renewable energy. It is necessary that we give up such forms of support which harm the environment – such is still paid out in milliards. For one thing, air fuel is not taxed, whereas the use of charcoal is subsidized. In some countries, the environment is still neglected when main motorways are built. But our problems cannot be solved by technology alone, we must recognise that the environmental problems are in fact political ones. Unless we reach satisfactory solutions in all sectors, future generations will have to pay the price,” says Minister Hassi.

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