Climate change could mean more winter precipitation, summer heatwaves for Finland

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A snow covered road in Helsinki, Finland in 2012. How will the changing climate affect the country? (AFP)
A snow covered road in Helsinki, Finland in 2012. How will the changing climate affect the country? (AFP)
Climate change could mean more stuff coming down from the sky during the Finnish winter, according to director general of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Petteri Taalas.

The chief weatherman described as “rational” Sunday’s recommendations by the global climate panel the IPCC to give up the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.

While he applauded the IPCC’s recommendations, FMI director general Petteri Taalas said that the reaching that goal does not appear to be likely, given humankind’s habits so far.

“It would be rational to work towards that goal. If we continue at our present rate, we will have to live with bad weather for several hundred years,” Taalas said Monday in an interview on Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme.

The FMI chief has chaired Finland’s national IPCC working group since 2007. While he said the goals are laudable, he does not see the IPCC’s stated goal of eliminating fossil fuel dependence by the end of the century as realistic.

“So far we have moved in the completely opposite direction. We have been using up all of our fossil reserves, including shale oil and gas,” Taalas observed.

According to Taalas, the IPCC has had to amplify the scale of worst-case scenarios in each of its reports. Experts are now speculating that in the worst case the climate could warm up by as much as four degrees Celsius by the year 2100 — far beyond the IPCC’s estimate of a maximum ‘safe’ limit of two degrees. The chief meteorologist said the degree of warming could increase if shale oil is taken into use.

“The change for us here in Finland could be even greater, because we’re in the Arctic’s sphere of influence,” he noted.

He pointed out that in Finland climate change could bring more precipitation especially during winter. Finns should also brace for more heatwaves, he added.

EU goals “exceptional”

But according to Taalas, there are positive sides to the IPCC report. He noted that there are more and cheaper measures available to prevent climate change.

“But the later we act, the more expensive it will be. If we do nothing, then the financial losses we’ll face will be more than the cost of action,” he warned.

Some weeks ago the European Union states agreed to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2030.

The IPCC report recommends an even more ambitious goal of reducing emissions by 40 to 70 percent of current levels by the year 2050. Taalas said that the EU objective should serve as an example to others.

“The EU goal is an outstanding objective. If the rest of the world followed the EU, we’d be on the right track,” he noted.

The FMI director said the next milestone would be to get as many countries as possible to commit to similar emissions targets at next year’s UN climate change conference in Paris.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Melting Arctic ice called ‘economic time bomb,’ CBC News

Greenland:  Greenland’s northeastern ice sheet starting to melt, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland:  Acid Arctic Ocean and Russell Brand?, by Deutsche Welle’s Iceblogger

Norway: Emissions speeding up Arctic Ocean acidification, Alaska Dispatch

Russia: Melting permafrost eroding Siberian coasts, Deutsche Welle Ice-Blog

Sweden: Sweden could lead way on climate: environment minister, Radio Sweden

United States: Expert predicts ice-free Arctic by 2020 as UN releases climate report, Alaska Dispatch

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