The Woodworkers’ Union and the Finnish Paper Workers' Union: Employment to be considered when setting climate goals
The Woodworkers’ Union and Finnish Paper Workers' Union appeal to MEPs to consider the employment aspect and a level playing field for businesses in the various member states when voting on the rules of land use and forestry regarding climate change (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)). In other words, the unions hope that the European Parliament can define the irrefutably important environmental policy goals in such a way that they do not adversely affect the employment development in the member states or distort the competitive position between businesses.
The unions maintain that a just approach is to define a shared reference level and guideline for forestry logging in such a way that the member states will not incur sanctions from financial activities within the framework of sustainable development. The annual growth of Finland’s forests is estimated to increase from the present 110 million cubic metres to 115–120 million cubic metres by 2030. At the same time, the logging volume is expected to grow from this year’s 72 million cubic metres to 80–85 million cubic metres, should the current investment plans in forestry be carried out as planned. Thus, the activities of Finnish forestry is well within the framework of sustainable development.
The unions assess that the LULUCF proposal of the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament, a compromise vote, contains the risk of a deteriorating employment outlook. In the Committee’s proposal, the reference years for calculating the carbon sink capacity of forests are set to 2000–2012. If implemented, the model would be particularly difficult for Finland where the logging volumes of commercial forests were low during the said period. Logging was particularly low during the recession years 2008–2009. During the period, the highest annual logging was somewhat below 58 million cubic metres in 2007, while the lowest was slightly below 42 million cubic metres in 2009.
If Finland had to purchase emission permits for all logging in excess of the level of 2000–2012, which would be the actual case if the ENVI Committee’s proposal were to be implemented, it would most likely have an adverse effect on the willingness of forestry businesses to invest in Finland. This, in turn, would compromise the strengthening of Finland’s national economy and the goal of an increased employment level, which is vital to the well-being of the citizens. It would be unfortunate if the forestry investments currently planned in Finland were not realised because of the LULUCF decision, or if they were to be moved outside of the EU area.
The above problems also apply to other forestry countries in the EU, depending on the logging level of forests in the said countries from 2000 to 2012. Similarly, the matter applies to companies active in different countries that would be put into unequal positions according to the ENVI Committee’s proposed model. The model would reward countries where the logging level was high during the reference period, while punishing those with low logging volumes. Such a model, locked with a past situation, would distort the competitive setting between companies and define their playing field in a way that is not consistent with the competition criteria of an open market economy. To avoid this, the definition of the forests’ carbon sink capacity must be implemented based on future forest growth instead of relying on the past.
The growth and logging of a forest form a cycle in which the carbon sink capacity in Finland’s forests has increased, when inspecting over a longer period of time and large areas. The amount of growing stock can further be increased by combining forest management and logging, enabling the logging in accordance with the forestry industry’s investment plans within the framework of sustainable development. Increasing the amount of growing stock requires good forest management, which is a key factor to growth that conforms to sustainable development. The responsibility for good forest management lies with the forest owners, forestry industry and political decision-makers in the member states to guide forestry, which can guide and encourage a positive development. The assessment of an environmental impact is implemented with forest certification systems.