Latest IPCC report:
Urgent action already needed to adapt to climate change
According to the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere published today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the changes occurring in the global climate pose challenges to our lifestyle, food production, sustainable use of natural resources and the environment as we have come to know them. We must therefore take urgent, coordinated action to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The report, compiled by more than a hundred researchers, follows on from the Special Reports published in October 2018 and August 2019, which have given significant impetus to the discussion on climate change mitigation and adaptation. In Finland, climate issues feature prominently in Prime Minister Rinne’s Government Programme, and these matters are also being discussed at the EU level, for instance at the various ministerial and other meetings taking place during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, most recently yesterday at the informal meeting of ministers of agriculture in Helsinki.
Strongest impact to be felt in Arctic regions
Melting glaciers, shrinking snow cover and melting frost pose a particular threat to the nature and livelihoods of Arctic regions, which means that the need for adaptation to climate change is particularly great at northern latitudes. The need for adaptation is due to a variety of factors, such as the shrinking of tundra regions, the shifting of the boreal forest border and the changes in fish populations brought on by global warming.
“The results of the recent report must be taken seriously in Finland, at the EU level and in international cooperation with the Arctic countries in particular,” says Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Fortunately, according to Husu-Kallio, Finland has a high level of scientific and technological expertise, which is needed for flood and forest fire prevention and for managing the effects of melting frost.
“The Finnish Government has already agreed on a new Arctic policy strategy, and Finland wants to play a key role in strengthening Arctic policy at the EU level as well,” Husu-Kallio says.
In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has launched an Arctic bioeconomy and circular economy partnership network in which regional operators, public administration, businesses and organisations are working together to advance sustainable growth. Members of the network also include the Natural Resources Institute (Luke) and other research institutes, along with the state-owned forest enterprise Metsähallitus, which has strong expertise in Arctic issues due to the location of its operating sites.
Finland a world leader in planning adaptation measures
Finland was the first EU Member State to draw up a national climate change adaptation strategy in 2005, and in 2014, the Government adopted a resolution on the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. A monitoring group led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has also been set up to follow up on the implementation of the plan. New members were most recently appointed to the group at the beginning of this year.
“The close cooperation between the authorities, researchers and other bodies involved in the implementation of the plan has helped to improve awareness of the impacts of climate change and the ways we can adapt to it,” says Permanent Secretary Husu-Kallio. According to Husu-Kallio, strengthened cooperation, partnerships and climate-sustainable solutions can also play a role in promoting the export of Finnish expertise and in finding solutions to global challenges related to food security, the availability of clean water and the sustainable use of natural resources.
At the end of 2018, weather and climate risks were also taken into account for the first time in Finland's National Risk Assessment. The range of practical measures needed is very broad, and the aim is to integrate adaptation to climate change into all social planning and activities. When it comes to the forestry sector, climate change has been taken into account in the forest management recommendations, while the adaptation of agriculture is being promoted through the development of new cultivation varieties and techniques, for example.
Adaptation has also been promoted through a joint communication campaign with civil society organisations, which is set to be relaunched this autumn.
Foresight and warning systems are being developed
In Finland, the rise in sea levels is moderate and largely compensated by the rise in land. However, changes in the amount of snow and frost and in freeze-thaw fluctuations will increase the rate of winter flooding, which Finland has not experienced much in the past.
The joint Flood Centre of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) is actively communicating on changes in the water situation, and forecasting and warning systems are being further developed. Our knowledge of drought risks and how to manage them will also improve with the new vesi.fi service website under development.
The Dam Safety Act, the Water Services Act and the Water Act have been amended in recent years, and a completely new law on flood risk management has significantly improved our preparedness for flood risks. The dimensions of dams are currently reviewed every five years, and illustrative maps of flood areas and flood risks are maintained regularly.
Climate change is also taken into account when drawing up coastal plans and, for example, when developing the management of stormwater. Efforts are also being made to develop sustainable development indicators systematically. We must pay particular attention to preparations for ensuring the operation of infrastructure essential for the functioning of society, such as water supply and transport networks.
“Adaptation to climate change is a major economic issue,” Permanent Secretary Husu-Kallio emphasised. “We do not yet know enough about the economic impacts. More information is needed so we can correctly target adaptation measures to manage the increased risks.”
Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Ville Keskisarja, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 62390, [email protected]
Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 62060, [email protected]
Read the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s press releases on related topics:
• Finland takes climate impacts of land use very seriously (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry press release, 8 August 2019)
• Awareness of the risks associated with climate change must be further reinforced (Joint press release of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Environment Institute and Natural Resources Institute Finland, 3 April 2019)
• Timanttiteko award for 2018 granted to National Climate Change Adaptation Plan implementation group (Joint Government press release, 21 March 2019)
• New climate resilient solutions needed fast in the Arctic (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry press release, 11 September 2018)