Finnish official: ‘Heating is far from being just a local issue’

(EurActiv, 25 Sep 2019) Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 requires decarbonising the whole economy, including the energy-hungry heating sector, says Finland’s Riku Huttunen. And that will involve cooperation at all levels of government, including local and EU authorities, he argues.

Riku Huttunen is the director-general for energy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, which currently holds the EU’s six-month rotating Presidency. He answered in writing to questions from EURACTIV.

Heating represents almost half (40%) of the EU’s total energy consumption. As such, it is also responsible for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, politicians seem reluctant to confront the issue head-on. Why is that?

First of all, I want to underline that the Finnish Presidency aims at advancing the EU discussions to set a clear vision of climate-neutral EU by 2050. To achieve this kind of ambitious target, we need to decarbonise the whole economy, including heating.

When it comes to heating, you are right, it is often forgotten or overlooked compared to electricity supply. One reason might be that heating is considered a local or regional solution.

However, thinking about market rules and the Emissions Trading Scheme, this is far from being just a local issue. It is the responsibility of national and EU policymakers to implement policies and measures valid for the heating sector in different operating environments in Europe.

EU policies relevant for heating should enable decarbonisation and deployment of innovative energy technologies while avoiding technological lock-ins in the heating sector.

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EurActiv, 25 Sep 2019: Finnish official: ‘Heating is far from being just a local issue’