Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would firstly like to thank you Executive Director Ms Maria van der Hoeven for your presentation and commend the dedicated and professional work of your team at the International Energy Agency. We will need the expertise of your Agency in going forward and facing the difficult challenges ahead.
The last in-depth review was conducted in 2007 and quite a lot has taken place since in the energy sector. EU set its ambitious climate and energy targets, a global economical situation took unforeseen turns, making life also in the energy sector harder. Some countries, such as Germany made notable turns in their energy policy, which also have impact on other countries. And some new energy sources such as the unconventional gas became to change the game.
In spite of these changes the main corner-stones of Finnish energy policy – security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability – have remained the same.
I fully agree with the analysis of the IEA that the strength of the Finnish energy system is its diversified fuel mix and the effective use of energy. Diversified fuel mix makes it much easier for us to adjust to the changes in the global energy field.
While securing continuous and competitive supply of energy to the society it is important at the same time to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to reach the target set by the European Union:
We have managed to combine economic growth with a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. The emission trend is right and will speed up in coming years, as we have implemented measures on e.g. construction, the effects of which will be noticeable only in the future when the building stock is renewed.
Also our energy intensity has decreased, although it is still high due to the structure of our industry, cold climate and long distances, while consumption of renewable energy sources has increased significantly.
There have also been changes in the European level of energy policy since the last review. The European Union’s climate and energy package set ambitious targets for the European level and the Member States in 2008.
As both your and our analyses show, Finland is on track to achieve the emission reduction and renewable energy targets set for the year 2020.
The role of forest based biomass is central both for Finland’s energy economy as a whole and for achieving the renewable energy targets. As you have noted, Finland has raised concerns over the sustainability criteria to be set for forest biomass.
Finland is in favour of the requirement that biomass use should be sustainable, but we consider that there already are sustainability schemes that guarantee sustainable forest management in Europe. One example can be found on the last page of this report.
Our focus has been on a proactive approach to find a good solution for the whole Europe, while guaranteeing the sustainability of the imported biomass.
We need to avoid all such sustainability criteria which could lead to the negative impact on the development of the bioenergy markets and the achievement of the targets set for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
With the emission reduction and renewable energy targets well within our reach the focus is turning even more on energy efficiency. The new Energy Efficiency Directive is a challenge for most EU Member States, Finland included.
One example of tackling this challenge was a public hearing held on the 26 of April informing the public and gathering knowledge to be utilized by the working group established for implementation of the Directive.
Finland and its neighbour states have great tradition of regional cooperation with the oldest international electricity market in Europe, and the largest in the world, the Nordic wholesale power market (Nord Pool Spot).
Finland looks forward to continuing this good regional cooperation also in the context of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan by developing natural gas infrastructure in the Eastern Baltic Sea Area. We hope that the good cooperation between the governments and the companies continues.
As I said, we have had a lot of changes in the energy field around us, but what has remained are the challenges posed by the Northern climate and long distances without the abundant hydro and fossil resources of our neighbours.
One indigenous energy source that we have is peat and we thank the Agency for acknowledging in the analysis the contribution that use of peat has on the security of supply, while paying attention to environmental issues.
Ms van der Hoeven, we gladly note that in this review your Agency doesn´t suggest a shift in policy. Indeed quite the opposite. Part of the Finnish success story is the broad consensus on energy policy issues, including nuclear energy policy. This and the previous Finnish Government have made far-reaching energy policy decisions. To keep up this great tradition of energy policy formulation, I have proposed a parliamentary working group to be set up with participation from all the parties, including the opposition, to formulate the new energy and climate road map towards the year 2050.
For us the timing of the review was excellent, as we could utilize both the expertise of your agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency, but also the expertise from other IEA Member States and the European Commission, as we were updating our national energy and climate strategy. Sometimes a view from the outside is needed to confirm that we are on the right track.
We thank you for this report and the recommendations that will be of good use also as we start preparing a road map towards the year 2050 and a carbon-neutral society.
In conclusion I would like to assure Ms van der Hoeven and all the distinguished guests here that Finland will keep up the good work and thrive even harder to be a forerunner in tackling the long-term energy policy challenges.