The most significant environmental challenges in the transport
sector relate to climate change, deterioration in air quality,
noise, pollution of ground water, use of natural resources,
generation of waste and loss of biodiversity.
Some 20 per cent of Finland's greenhouse gas emissions are caused by transport. Of what are known as traditional emissions, transport accounts for 20-60 per cent, depending on the compound. In addition to generating exhaust gas emissions, transport adds to air impurities mechanically, for example, through street dust.
The noise and vibration from traffic reduce the quality and comfort of living environments and have an adverse effect on people's well-being.
The construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure consume natural resources and generate waste. In addition, routes and other structures needed for transport require a significant amount of space.
Transport also affects biodiversity and the condition of the Baltic Sea region in a variety of ways.
A large part of the legislation applicable to environmental
questions in transport is directly derived from EU Directives. The
Ministry of Transport and Communications participates in the
preparation of these Directives and incorporates them into Finnish
Alongside drafting legislation, public officials from the Ministry and its administrative branch take part in the preparation of international agreements on transport and the environment.
The Ministry's efforts to reduce the adverse environmental
effects of transport are included in its overall transport
policy. The Government Programme proposes that
transport-related emissions be reduced, for instance, by supporting
public transportation, renewing the vehicle fleet and favouring
low-emission vehicle technology.
The Ministry is responsible for monitoring the implementation of environmental legislation and national and international obligations concerning its administrative branch. The Ministry guides and supervises the agencies in its branch of government and takes part in the associated research and development work.
The Finnish Transport Agency is responsible for environmental work related to the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure and for 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 provides society with services based on this information. The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority is in charge of building a smoothly-functioning information society, which in turn reduces people's need to travel.
The environmental impacts of the Ministry's activities have been systematically monitored since 1995. Other organisations in the administrative branch also monitor their operations and collect data on their environmental impacts. An independent evaluation of the environmental management systems was carried out in 2004.
Environmental questions are an integral part of all transport
planning, development, implementation and monitoring work carried
out by the Ministry. The Government Programme in force, together
with transport policy strategies, provide the overall policy
framework for this work.
The environmental and climate policy programmes of the Ministry and its branch of government are important tools in carrying out this work. They detail the measures, responsibilities and timetables required to achieve the targets.
The Climate Policy Programme for the Ministry of Transport and
Communications' administrative branch (ILPO) was completed in March
2009. It aims to cut the level of transport-induced greenhouse gas
emissions by 2.8 million tonnes compared to the estimated emissions
level of 2020. At the same time, preparations are made to maintain
transport services at least at the present level, despite the
increasing extreme weather events.
The ILPO programme comprises five sets of measures aimed at reducing emissions:
A target set out in the ILPO programme is that in 2020 the
specific emissions of new cars sold in Finland would be near the EU
objective (95 g/km) and the rate of vehicle fleet renewal would be
around seven per cent a year.
Key measures are monitoring the effects of the car tax reform, influencing the consumers' choice of vehicle, conducting research on different technology and fuel options and promoting their introduction.
Steps should be taken to improve the energy efficiency of transport. Measures for achieving that include the use of energy efficiency agreements in public transport and goods transport.
The goal is that by 2020 a total 100 million more public
transport journeys and 300 million more walking and cycling
journeys will be made, which means an increase of around 20 per
cent to the current figures.
Measures include the reconciliation of transport and land use, the promotion of public transport, walking and cycling, and mobility management.
Information society and communications policies support the achievement of Finland's climate objectives. Information society services decrease emissions in business, industry, administration and people's everyday lives.
If the climate objectives are not achieved through soft measures, such as awareness raising, financial steering may be used to pursue them. Examples of such financial measures include fuel taxation and road user charges. A decision on the possible introduction of financial steering methods will be made in 2012 at the latest.