Since any coal-powered future is a grim one, the forward-looking nations of the world are already pushing to phase out the ancient energy source. Finland might be the first to do it altogether — that country’s economy minister announced yesterday that it will be coal-free by 2025.The Sydney Morning Herald reports that during a parliamentary session yesterday, Jyri Haekaemies said “I think we could set a target for Finland phasing out coal use as the first country in Europe, for instance by 2025.”
Finland only imports 5 million tons of coal a year, most of it from Russia and Poland — compare that to the 1 billion + tons the US gobbles down, as Phil Bump notes, and cutting off the carbon tap it seems like a pretty manageable task. Still, coal accounts for around 16% of the country’s power generation (it’s closer to 45% here in the U.S.):As such, it will take considerable effort to replace the dirty stuff with the clean. Here’s how they’ll do it:“Government subsidies and taxes seek to boost the use of renewable energy and cut fossil fuel use by 2020, according to the national climate and energy strategy drawn up by the former government in 2008. The policy document will be revised and updated by the end of this year, Haekaemies said.”So they’re going to double down on government incentives for renewable energy. But won’t that be expensive? the skeptic asks. Well, not as expensive as keeping the polluting coal plants online. The public health benefits from axing coal will easily exceed the minor additional expense of ramping up renewables.Well played, Finland — and the coal killers didn’t even need a crowd-sourced petition to get it done. The policy should resonate for all of those among us who prefer living in a world not routinely wracked by record-breaking droughts and heat waves — killing coal should be a, if not the, top priority of the day. Coal power is the top carbon producer worldwide, after all. There’s no room for it in a stable future; let’s do like Finland and say fuck it.