This Week in Finnish Politics – Forest Sinks & Strikes

Politics has started to become interesting again as the government here is coming to grips with a Climate Change policy which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2035. 

 This week saw the first proposals for reducing emissions, but it still falls far short of what is needed. The biggest problem is that the forest carbon sink has been drained by a thirsty forestry sector (more of them below) who have been exporting pulp to China as well as creating biomass fuels from wood to fire up planes and cars. 

The forest company bosses need to cut back on raking the forests clean, as Trump would say… but they are doing the opposite by planning to build a few more “bio-mass” plants to produce pulp for Chinese toilets, and there are a lot of bums to be wiped there. 

… and if too many trees are cut and peat burning is not reduced, then Climate Change comes one step nearer to being realised. Several other policy breakthroughs have been promised like taxes on fossil fuels and money for Cleantech innovations, but the policies are still not specific and the amounts are too small to make a big difference. 

The Neo-liberal wings of the Conservatives started a love affair with the True Finns but they were quickly smothered by a trio of moderates. These “moderates” had already tasted the bitter-sweet kiss of death form their experiences in the last government with the True Finn mutineers called the Future Blues. You may recall that the Future Blues lost all of their seats in Parliament last year and now representatives of this party are having a hard time finding for new jobs. However it appears that the same moderates in the Conservative party are trying to attract a few former Future Blues to their fold, so mind who you vote for! Talk about sheep in wolf’s clothing. 

Finns, especially Center Party Finns, love raking up peat for district heating and energy generation from former swamps. They have taken Trump’s demands to drain the swamps seriously and refuse to stop. Burning peat, a fossil fuel, is one of the worst air polluters in Finland. It accounts for more than 10% of greenhouse gases! It can easily be replaced with renewables, but that would mean that Center Party forest owners would lose a lucrative business and that is “just not acceptable” since these old very religious men in baggy trousers wield so much power. It is all so Trumpian…

Finally, every newspaper is carrying a daily diet of the Five Ladies running our political system. The media is confused because we have never had a government before that is made up by Five Ladies who wield so much power. The fact that the “foreign press” likes them is making the male-driven political elite angry. They want their pictures to be on the front pages of the FT and New York Times, not these female upstarts.

The big boy’s lobby, the Confederation of Finnish Industry, (they call themselves EK, like OK for short) are run by another group of tubby old men in suits and silk ties. They also manage to get their voice heard in the local press, and they are attacking the government right left and centre. They want tax reductions for their companies, they want to lower wages of their workers, and they also want the workers to work an extra 3 days for free “to remain competitive in global markets.” 

The EK’s economists are foaming at the mouth about those “beautiful three days for free” as if it they are God’s given solution for all of our problems. EK has refused to give ground on this matter in the regular wage negotiations and the result will be weeks of strikes during the coming months – and those strikes will cost the shareholders a pretty penny…

The government’s Five Ladies are holding firm and refuse to step in as a go-between between the EK and the Trade Unions. 

The coming weeks will be messy…

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