1. Background information:
1.1 Generic information about the conflict:
There is ongoing public debate concerning use of peat to energy purposes. Peat is in a way renewable energy source because it regenerates but it takes very long time. Good peatland takes over 1000 years to form and it is a good carbon sink. According to the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation existing peatlands are formed during the last 5000 to 10 000 years and are not a source of renewable energy (Suomen luonnonsuojeluliitto 2009). Collecting peat has also environmental effects. Finnish government thinks that peatlands are a good source of renewable domestic energy and peat industry brings many job opportunities.
Peat has a major role at bioenergy plants. Plants need to burn peat at the same time when burning for instead forest chips. Combining peat and bioenergy sources affects to the emissions by decreasing chlorine emissions. This also decreases plants corrosion. Also combining peat with bioenergy sources makes the burning material more homogeneous. There are also plants that use only peat.
6 – 7 % of total energy produced in Finland comes from peat and 17 – 20 % of energy produced in CHP-plants comes from peat (Energiateollisuus).
1.2 . Conflict type:
Collecting peat is legal and in recent years government has even made peat taxation lover. Biggest concerns are associated with the fact that peat regenerates very slowly and peat industry has a negative effect to nearby water systems such as lakes. Also peat bogs are not very pretty sights.
1.3. Resources involved:
Peat vs. fossil fuels. Is peat a renewable energy?
2. Evaluation of the conflict
2.1. Main Issues and descriptions:
Peat production has an environmental effect to the water systems. Although waters are not directly going to the water system from peat bogs and there are some water treatment systems, some nutrients and solid matters are still flown to the nearby lakes. Due to the harmful effects to the waters peat production needs an environmental permission from the government (Turvetuotannon ympäristönsuojelu).
There are many lakes in Finland and Finnish people like to go to their summer cottages nearby lakes. This is why mostly local people are effected when lakes are contaminated with solid matter and why peat industry has a negative image among local people.
There are also concerns about is peat renewable or not and does burning peat create more emissions or not comparing to fossil fuels.
2.2. Main stakeholders involved:
Finnish government and energy policy, ENGO:s such as The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. Also local people because peat collecting has a negative effect to the nearby lakes. On the other hand peat collecting brings more jobs.
2.3. Analysis of the stakeholders values and interests:
NGO:s are highly against peat industry and in their opinion peat is not renewable energy and CO2 emissions are higher than when burning for example coal. Also peatlands store a lot of carbon witch should be taken into account (Suomen luonnonsuojeluliitto 2009).
Some parties think that peat production should be encouraged and it brings more jobs and helps Finland to have self-sufficient energy production (www.turveinfo.fi).
2.4. Evaluation of the intensity of the conflict:
Public discussion and disagreement.
2.5. Evaluation of the possible causes of the conflict:
This conflict has been existing for a long time. One reason for this problem is poor dialogical connection between stakeholders. NGO:s think that peat industry has only negative effects and government may not take seriously environmental concerns.
2.6. Main elements that may preclude conflict resolution:
I think that this problem will remain as long as peat is used to energy production. Problem will not solve if stakeholders remain not listening to each other. Also if government only thinks about creating more jobs and environmental issues are not taken into account the problem will only increase.
2.7. Main elements that may encourage conflict escalation:
If government decides to support peat production and water treatment requirements are removed.
Energiateollisuus, Turve: http://energia.fi/energia-ja-ymparisto/energialahteet/turve
Suomen luonnonsuojeluliitto ry. 2009. Turve - Fossiilinen energiaratkaisu.
Turvetuotannon ympäristönsuojelu: http://www.ymparisto.fi/fi-fi/kulutus_ja_tuotanto/Luonnonvarojen_kestava_kaytto/Turvetuotannon_ymparistonsuojelu