TransportBy European standards Finland is a large and very sparsely populated country with few large cities, so effective transport connections are vital for both the economy both nationally and regionally. Due to scattered settlement patterns, road transportation is the most significant mode of transport in most areas.
Long distances and a high rate of car ownership mean that the environmental impacts of transportation in Finland are considerable. About a fifth of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions are generated by traffic. Traffic also results in harmful impacts on a more local scale, including noise pollution and air quality problems due to pollutants in exhaust gases and road dust. Road dust is most problematic in spring after the winter snow has melted, when grit often remains on the roads and many cars are still fitted with studded winter tyres.
The manufacturing of vehicles and their fuels also consumes large quantities of raw materials and energy, while roads and other routes also use up large areas of land.
Reducing the harmful impacts of trafficIn recent years many actions have been initiated to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of traffic, and further controls are likely to be adopted in future. Regulations on the permissible concentrations of pollutants in vehicle exhausts, for instance, have been repeatedly tightened, and Finland’s vehicle taxation policies have been altered to increasingly favour vehicles with lower emissions.
Encouraging everyone to choose energy efficient forms of transportationThe Finnish public is increasingly aware that walking, cycling and travelling by public transport are the most energy efficient forms of transportation. People who use private cars are also widely informed about ways to reduce their energy consumption by choosing energy efficient vehicles, joining car-sharing schemes, and learning energy efficient driving techniques.
Many of the bigger decisions we make in life also have a great impact directly or indirectly on the environmental impacts of our transportation choices. Where do we choose to live and work? Should we buy a car – and if so, what kind? Where should we spend our holidays, and how should we travel to our chosen destination?
Energy efficiency in commercial transportationEnergy efficiency is particularly important for commercial transportation choices, since the total distances travelled annually by commercial vehicles are often very high. Finland is also working to achieve greater improvements in the energy efficiency of commercial transportation.
Transportation companies can greatly improve their energy efficiency by purchasing suitable vehicles and ensuring that their drivers are trained in energy efficient driving techniques. They can also sign up to voluntary energy efficient agreements. Being part of such an agreement is good for public relations, since it demonstrates that the company is keen to fulfil its responsibilities in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impacts.
When purchasing transportation services, clients can ask for tenders that include details of energy efficiency, to show that this is a priority consideration in therms of their choice of service provider. Companies who outsource transportation can also organise energy audits of their transportation chains to identify potential energy savings.