Finland makes plans to be coal-free – first European country to do so

Finland is a Nordic country in the far north of Europe. It borders Russia and Sweden and is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It has no natural coal resources, some hydropower capabilities, and a lot of forest. One-third of its energy comes from renewable sources (wood, hydropower), 18% from nuclear power, and the remaining 50% comes from imported fossil fuels.

And it wants to be the first country in Europe to become coal-free. The plan is to phase out several large coal plants by 2025 and begin investing in renewable energy. There were also discussions of subsidies and tax breaks in government documents.

Right now the country imports 5 million metric tons of coal every year, mostly from Poland and Russia. In some years that can cost $388 million, a real hit to the country’s GDP of $266 billion. Keeping that money at home with renewable energy offers significant benefits for the country – energy independence, new jobs, improved trade balance, and cutting emissions.

The country is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol and has worked very hard to meet emission reductions. As of 2008, it was 1% below the target reduction.

Being coal-free is a smart financial and ecological move for the country, and maybe one other’s in Europe could follow.

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Google Maps adds bike routes for Europe, Australia – take a trip through the Swedish countryside!

Back in 2010 we added biking directions for users of Google Maps in the US and Canada. Helping cyclists navigate the bike trails throughout those countries proved hugely popular, so we’re wheelie excited to announce that starting today, we’ve also added extensive biking data to Google Maps for Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In many of these countries we are also enabling biking directions in beta mode.

We know how popular cycling is in many parts of the world, so we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible to provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trips, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and busy roads and to customize the look of the cycling map to encourage people to hop on their bikes. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

If you’re keen to start riding into work, or maybe just do your bit for the environment by swapping your car for a bike a couple of days a week, biking directions can help you find a convenient route that makes use of dedicated bike lanes and avoids hills whenever possible.

 

Source: Google Lat Long Blog – Biking directions expands into Europe and Australia