Finnish govt seals Green Deal with auto dealers without bad mouthing diesels

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-23 07:26:15|Editor: Lu Hui
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HELSINKI, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government and the country's automobile dealer organizations on Thursday published a joint voluntary commitment to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in vehicles.

In the document, the signatories -- two ministries and two associations of the auto business -- pledged that by 2025 at least 25 percent of new cars would be using alternative fuels such as electricity, gas or biofuel.

Contrary to many western European countries, Finland sees no problem with the diesels. "There is no reason to start boycotting diesels in Finland," Juhani Laurikko, a leading researcher at the State Research Center VTT told national broadcaster Yle.

"Here in Finland, the better side of diesel matters, and that is their low emissions of carbon dioxide," he noted.

Pasi Nieminen, CEO of the Finnish Automobile Association (AA), explained that the overall situation of the road traffic in Finland eliminates the negative impact of diesels, even though they amount to a third of the cars on the roads.

"We do not have that much congestion on the roads, and we do not have stationary air in cities," he said. "The location of the capital, Helsinki, on a peninsula may be logistically difficult, but Helsinki gets well ventilated by sea winds," he added.

As part of the Finnish "Green Deal" with the government, the auto dealers try to reduce the average age of motor cars in the country. The agreement aims at reducing by 1.5 percent annually the age limit of a car for scrapping.

The CO2 emissions of new cars should come down at least four percent per year. But this year imports of used cars from western Europe have increased, partially because of the low value of the Swedish krona.

Mika Pokka, sales director at BMW dealership Laakkonen in Helsinki, told Yle that 40,000 used cars will be imported this year and most of them are diesel. "We have a lot to do to convince the customers to purchase a new low-emission car from a Finnish dealer," he said.

Meanwhile, the government is to promote electric cars with a purchase support and through public procurements.

As for diesel, the huge success of a civic initiative to reduce the extra tax on diesel cars is an indication of the auto-related public opinion in Finland.

The initiative launched by a private diesel owner in Haapavesi, central Finland, attracted well over 100,000 signatures in the past a few days and will go to the next parliament elected in April.

In Finland, diesel at the pump has been taxed less than regular gas in an effort to assist professional drivers.

To prevent private owners of diesel vehicles from benefiting too much, an extra tax has been levied on diesel cars used for private driving.

However, the recent increase in diesel price in the world market has made the situation unfair, the signatories of the civic initiative say.