The most significant environmental challenges for the transport
sector are climate change, the degradation of air quality, noise,
pollution of ground water, the use of natural resources, waste
production and the decline of biodiversity.
Transport causes about 20 per cent of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of what are known as traditional emissions, transport accounts for 20–60 per cent, depending on the compounds. In addition to exhaust gases, transport increases impurities in the air mechanically, e.g. street dust.
The noise and vibration from traffic degrades the quality and comfort of living environments and also has an adverse effect on people’s well-being.
The construction and maintenance of roads consume natural resources and generate waste. In addition, roads and other structures needed for transport require a significant amount of space.
In many ways, transport also affects biodiversity and the condition of the Baltic Sea region.
A large part of the legislation that concerns transport
environmental questions comes directly from EU Directives. The
Ministry of Transport and Communications participates in the
preparation of these Directives and incorporates them into Finnish
In addition to legislation, the Ministry’s officials and its administrative representatives take part in the preparation of international agreements concerning the environment and transport.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications deals with the
reduction of the harmful effects of transport as part of overall
transport policy. The Government Programme proposes that transport
emissions be reduced by, for example, supporting public transport,
the rejuvenation of the motor stock and favouring applications of
low-emission vehicle technology.
The Ministry’s role is to monitor its administrative operations regarding environmental legislation as well as the implementation of its national and international environmental obligations. The Ministry directs and monitors the administrative branch’s agencies and participates in research and development work related to the topic.
The Finnish Transport Agency is responsible for environmental work related to the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure as well as the overall functioning of the transport system. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency is responsible for the environmental safety of transport services. The Finnish Meteorological Institute produces observation and research data on the atmosphere and seas and also provides society with services based on this information. The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority is building a functional information society which in turn reduces people’s need to travel.
The environmental effects of the Ministry’s operations have been monitored systematically since 1995. Other administrative organisations also monitor their own operations and collect data about related effects. An independent evaluation of the environmental systems was carried out in 2004.
Within the Ministry, environmental issues are an essential part
of planning, development, implementation and monitoring of the
transport sector. The work is guided by the Government Programme
valid at the time, along with transport policy strategies.
Important aids in implementing the work are the environmental and climate policy programmes of the Ministry and the administrative branch which detail the measures, responsibilities and schedules required to achieve the objectives.
The Climate Policy Programme for the Ministry of Transport and
Communications’ administrative branch (ILPO) was completed in March
2009. The objective of the programme is to cut the level of
traffic-induced greenhouse gas emissions estimated for 2020 by 2.8
million tonnes. At the same time, preparations are made to maintain
transport services at their current level at the minimum, in spite
of the increase in extreme weather phenomena.
The ILPO programme comprises five different sets of measures to reduce emissions:
The target is that the specific emissions of new cars sold in
Finland in 2020 is close to the EU targets (95 g/km) and that the
car stock is renewed at an annual rate of about seven per cent.
The central measures are monitoring the effects of the car tax reform, influencing the choices of cars, and research into and promotion of different technical and fuel alternatives.
The objective is to improve transport energy efficiency. The approach will be to use energy efficiency agreements for mass transport and freight transport.
The target is that in 2020 there will be 100 million more mass
transport journeys and 300 million more journeys by foot and
bicycle than today, which means an increase of about 20 per cent in
Measures include the coordination of transport and land use, the promotion of mass transport, walking and cycling as well as travel control.
Information society and communications policies support the achievement of Finland’s climate objectives. Information society services reduce emissions in business operations, administration and the day-to-day life of citizens.
If the climate objectives are not achieved through soft control measures, such as information dissemination, economic steering could be used to pursue them. Examples of economic measures include transport fuel taxes or road user taxes. A decision on the possible adoption of economic measures will be made in 2012 at the latest.