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13.2 Tackling climate change: Agriculture and forestry support schemes must be developed boldly to meet climate targets

Finland aims to become carbon neutral by 2035. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, agricultural and forestry support schemes must promote effective climate measures. Our research shows that the effects of current and planned support schemes for agriculture and forestry are partly conflicting: some schemes promote the achievement of climate objectives, while others undermine it.

The effective management of forests to meet climate and other environmental objectives requires changes to the current support system, which mainly subsidises wood production. The most important way to increase forest carbon sinks in the short and medium term is to reduce felling. The next most important way to influence carbon sinks and emissions, based on current knowledge, is through peatland management practices, especially by raising groundwater levels in drained peatland forests.

The forestry support scheme could be significantly diversified by introducing a wide range of new types of performance-based and incentive payments to deliver non-market climate and other environmental benefits.

In order to achieve the target of a 29% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2035, incentives to reduce emissions will need to be significantly increased, particularly on peatlands and, to some extent, on mineral soils. Farmers must be able to earn a return on GHG emission reductions that exceeds the direct costs to recoup their investment. This is necessary, for example, to raise water levels and achieve emission reductions on peatlands.