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"Great opportunities for a green economy"

Ville Niinistö chaired the Barents Environmental Ministers meeting in Inari.

INARI: Renewable and clean energy production was highlighted as a great possibility by Finland’s Minister of Environment Ville Niinistö when the Barents Action plan on climate change was approved Thursday.

Location

The action plan on climate change for the Barents Cooperation was approved at the Ministerial meeting in Inari, northern Finland on Thursday.

At the meeting, taking place at the Sami Center, Niinistö expressed his concern over the effects of economic pressures and climate change on the northern nature. The Minister, however, sees the Barents Region as an area that offers opportunities for developing a green economy. 

“The cold climates and long distances of northern areas encourage people to come up with energy-efficient and smart technologies,” said Niinistö.

”The energy sector is very important to the region, and not only in terms of oil and gas. It might come as a surprise that wind power is one of the largest investment targets in Northern Europe, even surpassing the mining industry.  Tourism that focuses on nature and natural values is also an economically important sector and employer in many areas,” the Minister said.

Ville Niinistö was the only of the four ministers in the Barents Region responsible for environmental questions that participated at the Inari meeting. Lack of interest to the environmental meeting has already been criticized by other players in the Barents Cooperation. 

The Barents Action Plan on Climate Change was originally supposed to be approved by the foreign ministers at the Barents Council meeting in October, but Russia wanted the plan to be sent over to the environmental meeting for final approval.

The plan includes recommendations for concrete measures to be taken by the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) working groups in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation, research and communications. 

The Action Plan contains a number of different projects under the headings Mitigation, Adaptation, Research, observation, monitoring and modelling and Outreach. The projects build on previous recommendations on climate change in the Barents region. They are supposed to give an added value to cooperation on climate change going on in other fora, such as the Arctic Council. 

A key project in the Action Plan is the Working Group on Environments proposal to develop regional climate strategies in the whole Barents region, on the basis of experiences with climate strategies that are already developed in the Finnish counties of the Barents region.