Air Monitoring

Is It Time the EU Listened to Finland?

Mar 11 2017 Read 730 Times

Much like its Swedish and Norwegian neighbours, Finland is at the forefront of all things green. From water cleanliness to air pollution monitoring, the Finnish have been innovating and advancing for the past few decades. But as an EU member state, they’re not completely satisfied with the way the union legislates when it comes to the environment.

Getting things done

Their main concern comes with the recent review of EU environmental laws. Environment ministers from EU member states met in Brussels for a review, presented by the European Commission. Its focus was the implementation of EU environmental laws and how this can be changed or improved.

The problem? There is too much focus on changing or replacing legislation, rather than getting things done. “If all our time is spent on new legislation, new small details, then implementation suffers,” said Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s minister for environment and agriculture.

“If my civil servants in the ministry of environment and the ministry of agriculture – if all of their activity and working time is spent to evaluate new proposals from the Commission and to negotiate them, who takes care of implementation?” he explained.

How are Finland doing?

The review itself actually praised the Finnish for their protection of important conservation sites. There were some areas from improvement – namely, air quality and agricultural pollution. Specifically, the Commission highlighted the air quality in and around Helsinki as an area for improvement.

Regarding agricultural pollution, the Commission suggests Finland needs to do more to prevent this pollution damaging nearby water quality. On the whole this constructive criticism isn’t unwelcome, according to Tiilikainen: “You have to stop and see what you’ve done. What kind of performance you have and compare it with some other countries and see if you’re doing a good job.”

Carbon neutrality

But what does the future hold for Finland? Tiilikainen has been open with his target to be carbon-neutral. He hopes the country will be able to achieve the ambitious target as soon as 2045. Interestingly, when monitoring carbon levels we use monitoring locations away from the main source of emissions.

Monitoring stations are set away from the likes of oil refineries, power plants and industrial parks. And, yes, this gives us a good understanding of the broader picture. But we also need to monitor how bad these specific areas are getting, as discussed in the article ‘Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Monitoring Close to a Coal-Fired Power Plant and a Cement Factory’.

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