Currently, Finland imports all of its coal from nearby countries such as Russia and Poland. Annual import volumes range from less than 3 million to 9 million tons, depending on the rainy or dry climate, according to the Finnish Coal Info association’s website.
Eliminating coal usage could help the country save millions of euros a year, since coal imports cost Finland between 70 million to more than 300 million euros ($91 million to more than $388 million) annually, according to Finnish Coal Info.
Instead of utilizing the fossil fuel, the country intends to increase sources of renewable energy -- many of which are government subsidized.
“Investments into renewable energy will play a key role” Economy Minister Jyri Haekaemies said during a parliamentary debate, according to Bloomberg. “All the imported energy which we can replace with domestic energy sources not only creates jobs, but also cuts emissions and improves our current account.”
Coal use, particularly in energy production, accounts for roughly 20 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. The Clean Air Task Force, a non-profit research and advocacy organization, notes that "It is now well established in climate science that CO2 emissions globally must stop, by the middle of this century, to avoid the worst cataclysms of global warming."
Finland appears to have already begun phasing out coal use in its energy production with a 39 percent decrease in coal consumption from January to June of this year, as compared to the same period in 2011.
That figure stands in contrast to Europe as a whole, as coal consumption increased by 3.3 percent in 2011, and the continent's coal use stands to drive a 2.2 percent rise in European Union carbon emissions this year. Despite the European Union's 2020 renewable energy targets, which call for a 20 percent reduction in total emissions from 1990 levels, U.S. coal exports to Europe rose 29 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
However, the trend is not expected to last, as Europe's share of renewable energy rises toward the 20 percent target set forth by the EU.