Toronto·Q&A

Finnish minister brings details of country's ambitious climate plan to Toronto

Finland's Minister for Development and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, is in Toronto this week to share details from his country's ambitious climate plan.

Ville Skinnari on what Canada can learn from Finland's push to carbon neutrality

Finland's Minister for Development and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari. (CBC)

Ville Skinnari, Finland's Minister for Development and Foreign Trade, is in Toronto this week discussing his country's ambitious climate plan.

Skinnari will meet with federal and provincial government representatives and share details from Finland's plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035

He spoke with CBC Toronto's Angelina King. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Finland has a goal to be carbon neutral 15 years earlier than the EU. How do you plan to get there?

It's teamwork. It's something that we have to do together with the public and private sector but also with the people and the industries. So, the most important thing is that we do understand how to approach the challenges at each sector.

But at the end of the day, if you look at Finland and Canada we have so many similarities — the nature, climate, everything, the northern location. I think we can also work together when it comes to climate change research and development investments job creation.

So we should not be afraid of the change because we can manage that. But we have to be sustainable. We have to be sustainable when it comes to people, when it comes to economy, and when it comes to social side. So everybody must have fought for this change. That's the key.

What would you say are the biggest challenges and what will you do to overcome them?

Well, Finland as an example, if we look at the energy sector for instance we've been managing, for instance my home city of Lahti, which is quite famous winter sports city, we have already got rid of coal 100 percent because we invested into the waste to energy solutions and biomass.

So, at the end of the day yes we are, let's say forerunners in Finland.

But it takes courage from the public side from the politicians, but also the private so side that we work together. And then we must have a dialogue with the people about how we deploy the solutions at the practical level. And once again it has to be cost efficient also from average people's wallets if you like.

Speaking of average people, how do you get people onboard to care about these issues?

The most important thing is that we do share the same values, how we respect nature, how we really want to work on the issue of tackling climate change at the global level, at the regional level, but also at the local level.

I think in Finland people are very aware of the global situation and our government is very committed to do our part. We want to show the example. Not just for Finland itself but for the rest of the world that we will carry our responsibility.

In Canada, we have so many similarities — cold climate and heavy industry that requires a fair amount of energy. But a new report says Canada isn't on track to meet its emissions targets, let alone achieve carbon neutrality. What's your advice to Canada?

I think we must really make a tool box. There is no one silver bullet to solve the problems. But we really have to be holistic and look at each and every segment, but at the end of the day to have a holistic strategy.

And once again, start from the citizen, starts from the consumers and really get the mutual understanding and how to go further and compose the road maps. It has to be socially and economically sustainable.

But I think the experience from Finland is something I would really like to share with my Canadian colleagues, and that's why I'm meeting my colleagues here.

When you meet with your counterparts, what's the number one thing you hope they take away?

Well I think we share the same values and the same concerns when it comes to climate change and the global situation. And I think Finland and Canada can really show leadership at the global level.

We also have leading industries we have leading innovations and where we've put ourselves together I think we're going to have a good team. We share so many things and I think we are like mental neighbours although we have some physical distance.

With files from Angelina King