HELSINKI, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government and industries welcomed the decision by the European Parliament on Wednesday to amend the planned regulations on forests as carbon sinks.
According to the new decision, wood usage can be increased as long as the carbon sink effect of forests does not decrease. The time span extends to 2050.
The amended norms are likely to make it possible that Finland will be able to increase its consumption of wood, while the previous version of the regulations would mean that previous level of wood usage would have been kept and any increase in wood usage would have had to be compensated.
Before becoming the European law, the norms will have to be dealt with in the European Commission and the European Council, representing member countries. Commentators in Finland have viewed the parliament decision as a decisive breakthrough in favor of the Finnish economic needs.
Several major plans for biomass investments had been placed on hold in Finland awaiting the decision from the EU. Last week Finnish industries launched a major PR effort at the EU in Brussels to explain the Finnish stand.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila welcomed the decision: "We will now get a system where use of wood is relevant to its annual growth and not with historic usage levels." Sipila said that Sweden had supported the Finnish requirement.
Nils Torvalds, a Finnish Member of the European Parliament, said the amended plan does not risk the aims of the Paris climate agreements. He said the revised plan combines the economic interests of Finland and the aims of the Paris accords.
Meanwhile, the news was received with considerable dismay among environmentalists.
Brussels-based environmental organization Fern deplored the decision. A Fern spokesman told Finnish newspaper Hudvudstadsbladet that MEPs had given up when they faced pressure from countries that "desperately want to increase the cutting down of wood without calculating the emissions honestly".
Heidi Hautala, a Green Member of the European Parliament, expressed her disappointment. She said the winning amendment is unclear. Hautala hoped that the European Commission and the member countries would later find a solution that is transparent and encourages sustainable use of forests.
Otto Bruun, an expert of the Finnish Nature Conservation Association, said the new format is irresponsible. He said Finnish lobbyists were able to water down important agreements on environment.
Representatives of the Finnish forest industries welcomed the decision and said that "the use of wood can be increased in the future, if forest reserves continue growing".
The Finnish energy industries said the decision was a step into the right direction. The EU must give member states enough space to build their climate policies in a way that "benefits their national strengths".