The Environmental Impacts of Traffic in Finland

Traffic generates about a fifth of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions (about 17 million tonnes in 2007). These figures include the emissions generated by international traffic and in the production of electricity for rail transport. Road traffic accounts for 72 % of traffic-related emissions, with 60% of road traffic emissions generated by private cars and 40 % by commercial traffic.

Passenger and goods traffic on the increase

Traffic in Finland is increasing steadily – together with its associated harmful impacts on people and the environment. People are making longer journeys, and using private cars more often.

Most goods in Finland are transported by road, but the share of rail traffic is increasing for large quantities of bulk goods. Timber is a particularly important commodity widely transported in Finland. One significant trend in goods traffic in recent years has been a decrease in the average size of transported loads, and this trend has increased the total distances driven, and reduced the overall energy efficiency of goods transportation.

Local, regional and global impacts

Traffic is a significant source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and the resultant extreme weather events, biodiversity loss and sea level rises.

On a more local scale traffic generates other forms of pollution that reduce air quality and can have serious health impacts. Such pollutants include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and airborne particles. Other problems associated with traffic include noise pollution and traffic accidents.

Page last updated 4.8.2011