Climate solutions require researched information

Blog post
Kati Koponen,
Antti Arasto

There is an urgent need for climate solutions, and the global situation has become more and more unpredictable. Fortunately, there are also more solution models available. At the Finnish Climate Change Panel, we discuss and present these models to decision-makers.

At the beginning of this year, the Finnish Climate Change Panel started its fourth four-year term, and we started as its members: one of us as a new member and the other as an old member and now also the vice-chair.

The Climate Change Panel is an independent scientific community of 15 members, and for the first time, it features as many as two experts from VTT. This indicates that technology is increasingly needed to mitigate climate change. Technology plays a key role also for the European Commission, which published its proposal for the EU's 2040 climate target at the beginning of February: a 90% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission made it clear that all means must now be deployed.

The primary means of mitigating climate change is to avoid emissions, for example through energy efficiency measures and reducing consumption. Emissions from the energy system must also be reduced close to zero, industrial and transport sector emissions must be cut, for example through electrification, and the already recognised and often quite cheap measures to increase carbon sinks in the land use sector must be put into use. 

However, this alone is not enough to achieve the climate objectives. We must also capture carbon dioxide from factory stacks and probably directly from the air, too. In Finland, carbon capture, utilisation and storage were already included in the Government Programme last year.

What happens to captured carbon dioxide?

This is one of the big questions for the coming years, both in Finland and worldwide. An interesting point in Finland is that bio-based carbon dioxide emissions are high, and they can be used with green hydrogen to produce renewable transport fuels.

Carbon dioxide can also be stored permanently in underground geological formations. If the stored carbon dioxide is bio-based and from sustainably produced biomass, we can produce technological carbon sinks, or negative emissions.

How large technological carbon sinks do Finland need? Is there enough bio-based carbon dioxide for both fuel and carbon sinks? These and numerous other multi-dimensional issues need to be addressed by policies in the next few years. This is why politicians need more and more scientific information to support decision-making, and the Climate Change Panel's task is to provide it.

Security, economy and climate are intertwined

Beyond the growing urgency of climate change mitigation, the world as a whole has become increasingly complex. Until a few years ago, the focus was typically on climate change mitigation and its costs. Now, the global security situation and the related need to increase self-sufficiency, especially in terms of energy, are increasingly at stake. Many decisions must also consider how climate actions affect the lives of ordinary people.

There is also good news. Finland's energy self-sufficiency can be increased by the same means that mitigate climate change. These include solar and wind power and the hydrogen economy that relies on them.  But sometimes we must also face contradictions: for example, electric cars and their batteries mitigate climate change, but to make them, we need natural resources, the use of which may undermine biodiversity. On the other hand, the use of domestic natural resources reduces dependence on foreign resources. It is important to find sustainable and cost-effective solutions for the whole.

The Climate Change Panel is not afraid of contradictions. The panel is a community where representatives of different disciplines bring research results to the table and challenge each other. Together, we produce and structure multidisciplinary, research-based information and provide it to decision-makers, typically the government and parliamentary committees. As independent researchers, we also strive to bring balance to public debate, which tends to heat up and escalate.

By pursuing climate objectives with determination, we can prevent the costs and suffering caused by climate change. Every tenth of a degree we can shave off the rise in temperature is important.

Antti Arasto has been a member of the Finnish Climate Change Panel since 2020 and Vice-Chair since 2024. Kati Koponen started as a member of the Finnish Climate Change Panel in 2024.

Antti Arasto
Antti Arasto
Kati Koponen
Kati Koponen
Our vision beyond 2030

The efficient utilisation of renewable and carbon-neutral energy in industry, transport, and construction holds a key position in solving climate issues.