Photo by Maren Krings
In 2019, as a part of the path towards a climate neutrality by 2035, the Finnish government set a target to halve peat energy use by 2030. Alongside the technical aspects of the phase-out was a political commitment to provide a just transition for those whose livelihoods depend on peat harvesting. Resources from the Just Transition Fund have been allocated for re-skilling and reemployment of those who have lost, or are at risk of losing their jobs, particularly young people.
Peat production occurs mainly in the regions of Southern and Northern Ostrobothnia, Central Finland and Lapland employing around 2500 people. Large scale use of peat for energy in Finland began in the 1970s, with strong state and social support. In recent times, however, support has steadily eroded due to environmental impacts of harvesting and use. Peat burning contributes 4% of national energy consumption, yet 12% of total greenhouse gas emissions – equal to the GHG emissions of all passenger-car traffic annually within Finland.
Due to its carbon-intensity and costly ETS permits, the demand for peat has been declining at a much faster pace than anticipated, jeopardising the promised just transition. This has been complicated by the politicisation of peat and lack of consideration of the socio-cultural significance of local peat industries, as well as differing perceptions about the importance of peat for energy security and the national economy. Subsequently, the transition process has been described as ‘reckless’ by certain interest groups.
The Finnish case study is an illustration of how energy transition policies can have an impact not only on economic livelihoods but also local identity and culture. Furthermore, it is an example of forced transition for the local producers, highlighting a common mismatch between how the importance of a resource is viewed at a local and national level.
Through this case study, TANDEM will explore the various implications and impacts of these policies on stakeholders such as peat producers, local youth, local authorities, peat companies and other affected citizens. A key goal is to research and develop equitable, citizen-led pathways to transition away from peat energy by 2030 in Southern and Northern Ostrobothnia of Finland, paying special attention to the intergenerational justice of the proposed transition policies.
Here we will share:
– Our communication material for the local communication campaign;
– The barrier free graph interpretation of the panels for this case study;
– The conclusions of the panels and surveys for this case study.