Blog Posts Ellen Huan-Niemi Agriculture, General

Looking at the global perspective, the total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 from agriculture in Finland was emitted in 13 seconds in China. Therefore, the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in Finland looks trivial and insignificant compared to the major polluters of the world, especially if the costs are high.

China, the United States and India accounted for 45% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. If the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector is taken into account, Indonesia would be the third largest polluter in the world due to the destruction of wetlands and rainforests. The emissions from the EU were about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Due to emission leakage, binding targets for the EU do not necessarily lead to emission reductions at the global level. Outsourcing production may even cause higher emissions compared to production in the EU, for example renewable energy such as biofuels, for instance palm oil imports from Indonesia. The question is: how effective will the global climate policy be if the largest polluters are not committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

In October 2014, EU leaders committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by year 2030. At the same time, the global community is engaging in negotiations to agree on a new climate treaty which will come into effect and be implemented after year 2020 to replace the Kyoto Protocol. This ambitious EU target would try to convince big polluters such as China and the United States to agree in Paris on a global and legally binding agreement for greenhouse gas emissions in December 2015.

A global climate policy is only meaningful when big polluters are actively involved in reducing emissions. To put this into perspective again: the total green house gas emissions in 2010 in Finland were emitted by China in just four minutes. Prior to the Paris climate talks, the US promises up to 28% emissions cut by 2025. However, the US did not keep its original promise to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol because this climate policy was not ratified by the US Congress. Instead of cutting emissions by 7% under the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change reported that the US increased emissions by 4% in 2012 compared to the emissions level in 1990. Thus, the question is: will the US keep its promise to cut emissions this time?

Currently, mainly the EU member countries have binding commitments for greenhouse gas emissions, whereas the rest of the world is still not committed to a binding international agreement. The EU’s climate and energy package, agreed in December 2008, lays down legislation to meet the bloc’s binding goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by year 2020. The important question is: how expensive and costly are the mitigation policies in Finland? Particularly, the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector in Finland is limited with current technology, and the cost is high for implementing mitigation measures at the farm level.


  1. Hi Huan
    In 2012, Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 60.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2 eq.), in 2010, corresponding value in China was 8240.9 million tonnes.
    the latter is 135 times as the former.
    in another way: 8240.9 million tonnes / a year = 8240.9 million tonnes /525600 mins, so it means 0.016 million /mins or 0.0627 million tonnes / 4 mins in China, which does not equal to 60.9 million tonnes / year in Finland.

    1. The difference may be due to the different sources of statistics. I have used statistics from the World Bank for the year 2010 (
      I have refered to the total emissions in CO2 equivalents, whereas you have referred to the direct CO2 emissions from China.

      Total emissions from China (2010): 10 728 808 000
      Direct CO2 emissions from China (2010): 8 286 892 000

      Total emissions from Finland (2010): 75 900 000
      Agricultural emissions from Finland (2010): 6 671 200

      China’s emissions in one second: 340 tonnes of CO2 equilvalents
      Finland’s total emissions compared to China: 229 seconds = 3.81 mins ≈ 4 mins
      Finland’s emissions from agriculture compared to China: 13 seconds

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