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The Brief: Finland works towards goal of carbon neutrality by 2035

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By Isabel Marques da Silva  & Shoshana Dubnow
The Brief: Finland works towards goal of carbon neutrality by 2035

With 23 million hectares of forest covering 75% of its territory, one might think Finland is well-prepared to use reforestation to fight climate change. That's why the Finnish government pledged last April to make the country carbon neutral by 2035.

Trees absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. This phenomenon is also having a great impact in the nordic countries. 

The National Resources Institute of Finland has an important role in creating more resistant seeds in their tree nurseries. Satu Teivonen is a research engineer at the institute who helps with this process.

"The climate is changing, so we have to do the breeding faster than it happens in nature," she said. "The main problem is that several pests and diseases are coming outside of Finland because we have warmer summers and warmer winters."

The best seedlings of pine, spruce, and birch created by the institute are then bought by commercial orchards. The industry is providing over one million Finnish people with jobs.

Finland is also a logging powerhouse. Pulp mills use almost 80 million cubic metres of harvested forest per year.

Hanna Aho is an activist with FINGO, a federation of 300 non-governmental organizations focusing on global development. She is committed to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2035.

"We need to stop all subsidies to fossil fuels and actually we need to think about this in the autumn already," she said. "We need to have higher taxes on peat and other fossil fuels. We have to put money into preserving our nature."

Finland holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU until December. The country hopes to convince the 27 other member states to invest in this transition, especially the eastern countries.

"Obviously we want this transition also to be an opportunity so that competitiveness is safeguarded," said Minna Kivimäki, the Deputy-Permanent Representative of Finland to the EU. "We also want to see it very much as a just transition, so that it is fair and we really make sure it is also inclusive. These are issues that we are looking at in different EU Council formations."

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced the creation of a new multi-stakeholder platform to protect and restore the world's forests.