Environmentalists ‘up in arms’ about Finnish-Swedish defence of forest industry

Green politicians and conservationists considered that Finnish Prime Sanna Marin and her Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven betrayed their green commitments for embarking on a lobbying crusade in Brussels. [EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON]

Green politicians and conservationists say Finnish Prime Sanna Marin and her Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven betrayed their green commitments for embarking on a lobbying crusade in Brussels.

Particularly controversial has been a joint letter sent by the leaders defending the forest industry addressed to European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen as the EU works on creating a classification system of environmentally sustainable economic activities for companies, investors and politicians.

In the letter dated 15 April, the PMs wrote that “the requirements on Forestry are far more extensive and detailed than other complex activities in the taxonomy”. They were also asking for “less detailed provisions for the forest management plans” and wished “the concept of close-to-nature forestry to be deleted.”

Lina Burnelius, project leader in the Swedish conservation organisation Skydda Skogen (Protect the Forest), posted the letter on Twitter, commenting: “How can we promote sustainable forestry when our PM is sending letters demanding just the opposite.”

In Finland, the chair of the parliament’s grand committee, former environment minister and MEP, Green MP Satu Hassi criticised the PM’s actions for being against the government’s line.

Former Green Chair and current MEP Ville Niinistö also painted the Finnish-Swedish letter as “an incomprehensible manoeuvre” which goes against parliament’s will.

Although the joint action of both PM’s may be welcomed by forest owners and the industry, the Greens are sitting in the government cabinets of both countries. This could make life in government more difficult. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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