Forecast: Road transport emissions to decrease slightly faster than anticipated - the reason for this is a boost in the popularity of electric cars

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 20.9.2021 9.32
Press release
Baseline projection 2021 - CO2 emissions from domestic transport (Picture: Ministry of Transport and Communications)
Baseline projection 2021 - CO2 emissions from domestic transport (Picture: Ministry of Transport and Communications)

Finland's greenhouse gas emissions from road transport are projected to decrease faster in the 2020s than previously estimated. According to the new forecast prepared by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, current measures will see greenhouse gas emissions from transport decrease by about 40% between 2005 and 2030. The aim is to reduce emissions by at least 50%.

Carbon dioxide emissions from transport have decreased by about 1.6 megatonnes from 2005 to 2019. According to the forecast, emissions will fall by about 3.4 megatonnes by 2030. This will mean a reduction in emissions of around 40% between 2005 and 2030. In 2020, it was predicted that emissions would decrease by 37%. The main reason for this larger decrease in emissions than previously estimated is that traffic in Finland is now predicted to become electrified faster than previously believed.

Only the share of emissions caused by road transport has been updated in the forecast. The forecast includes data for 2020 on water and rail traffic. Emissions from domestic aviation are not considered emissions from the effort sharing sector, so they are not included in the forecast. Currently, road transport accounts for approximately 94% of domestic traffic emissions, water transport accounts for about 5% and rail transport for less than 1%.

600,000 electric cars in Finland in 2030

The share of electric and gas cars is increasing and the share of petrol and diesel cars decreasing. According to the forecast, there will be some 600,000 electric passenger cars in Finland in 2030. Last year, it was still predicted that there would be 350,000 electric cars. According to the forecast, there will be fewer than 25,000 gas-powered passenger cars in 2030. The reason for the relatively small number of gas-powered cars is uncertainty about the availability of cars in the late 2020s. In June 2021, there were around 82,000 electricity-powered cars and 15,000 gas-powered cars. 

According to the forecast, carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars will decrease 15% by 2025 and 38% by 2030 compared to the situation in 2020 predominantly due to electrification. This is in line with the current EU legislation obligation that CO2 emissions from new cars in 2030 should be 37.5% lower in the EU as a whole than in 2021. Key factors explaining the change are the increase in the share of new electric passenger vehicles and the improvement in the energy efficiency of new cars with combustion engines. Consumption by internal combustion engines is expected to decrease in Finland by about 10 per cent between 2021 and 2023.

The new nationwide road transport forecast, which was updated by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom in summer 2021, has been utilised in the preparation of the forecast. It predicts the development of road transport performance, i.e. the number of kilometres driven until 2050. Electrification also affects transport performance in forecasts. Electric cars will increase the number of kilometres driven in the performance forecast, as the forecast takes into account the price of driving and the costs of driving an electric vehicle are considerably lower than those of driving an internal combustion engine vehicle. However, as much of the performance growth is driven with electric cars, the performance growth is not reflected as an increase in emissions. The performances of internal combustion engine vehicles are significantly reduced compared to the previous performance forecast.

Forecast will influence the objectives of the Roadmap to fossil-free transport

The objective of the Roadmap to fossil-tree transport is to halve domestic transport emissions by 2030 compared to what they were in 2005. In 2005, carbon dioxide emissions from transport totalled about 12.5 megatonnes, meaning that in 2030, emissions should total about 6.25 megatonnes at most. Between 2005 and 2019, emissions decreased by 1.6 megatonnes. The most recent confirmed statistical data is from 2019. Previously, it was estimated that some 1.65 megatonnes of new measures would be needed to achieve the 50% target. Now the forecast of a reduction in emissions by 2030 is about 3.4 megatonnes, which means that approximately 1.25 megatonnes are still missing from the 2030 target.

"The good news is that according to the forecast, only about 1.25 megatonnes of additional measures will be needed to halve emissions. The EU has set new climate targets and we have the means to respond to them. For example, we will assess whether it is possible to increase the distribution obligation for renewable fuels," says Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications.

Last year, the EU's common emission reduction target increased from 40% to 55%. The effort sharing sector and, as a result, transport obligations will also become more stringent in the next few years.

"There are, of course, many uncertainties associated with the forecast, and this is why the measures listed in the Roadmap for fossil-free transport must be implemented decisively. Our sights must be set on 2045, by which time greenhouse gas emissions from transport should have been reduced to zero," Minister Harakka continues.

How were the forecasts compiled?

The VTT forecast for greenhouse gas emissions from transport is based on statistics collected by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and Statistics Finland, as well as on estimates of the future. The road transport forecast has been calculated using the Lipasto calculation system's Aliisa vehicle fleet model developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The forecast covers CO2 emissions, which account for more than 95% of greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

The forecast is the basis for preparing the climate policy for transport. It will be utilised to calculate the impact of different measures on greenhouse gas emissions.

The national road transport performance forecast was produced by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Finance and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It includes an estimate on the development of passenger and freight services until 2050. Calculations related to transport performance have been produced using the Livima transport model used by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.

What next?

In autumn 2021, the extent to which emission reductions can be achieved through the first and second phase of the roadmap for fossil free transport and the measures presented in other contexts will be assessed. The measures proposed in other contexts include new EU legislative initiatives concerning road traffic.

An overall assessment of the adequacy of measures in the transport sector and in the entire effort sharing sector will be carried out in accordance with the budget guidelines in spring 2022.


Päivi Antikainen, Director of Unit, tel. +358 (0)50 3827101, paivi.antikainen (at), Twitter @PaiviAntikainen

Saara Jääskeläinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 (0)40 015 3745, saara.jaaskelainen(at), Twitter @SaaraJskelinen1