New Climate Change Act Aims at Carbon Neutrality

On 25 May 2022, Parliament approved the government proposal for the new Climate Change Act (government proposal HE 27/2022 vp). The Act is to enter into force on 1 July 2022, and it will repeal the Climate Change Act (609/2015) that has been in force in Finland since 2015. Both the current and the new Climate Change Act set targets and establish a framework for the planning of climate policy in Finland and the monitoring of its implementation.

Planning system for climate policy

The new Act provides for a climate policy planning system, which determines the reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, the goals for the strengthening of carbon sinks and adaptation to climate change, and the measures required to reach these goals and targets in different administrative branches. The goal for strengthening carbon sinks was added to the new Act as a new element.

In accordance with both the current and the new Climate Change Act, the planning system includes a long-term climate change policy plan, a medium-term climate change policy plan and a climate change adaptation plan. In the new Climate Change Act, the planning system is supplemented with a climate plan for the land use sector to be prepared at least every other electoral term.

New climate objectives

The new Climate Change Act also lays down provisions on new climate objectives. The target of the Act and the climate policy planning system laid down in the Act is to make sure that Finland reaches carbon neutrality by 2035. Carbon neutrality means that greenhouse gas emissions are at most as high as their removals. 

The new Climate Change Act also includes new emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040. The objective is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the effort sharing and emissions trading sector by at least 60 per cent by 2030 and at least 80 per cent by 2040 compared to 1990 levels.

In the new Climate Change Act, the 80 per cent emission reduction target set for 2050 in the current Climate Change Act was updated so that the target is to reduce emissions of the sectors by at least 90 per cent by 2050 but aiming at 95 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

Act to be supplemented

The Ministry of the Environment is preparing an amendment to the Act that will introduce a new obligation to prepare climate policy plans on a municipal, county or regional level. The Act will also be supplemented with a provision on the basis of which the Government’s decisions based on the Climate Change Act can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court. Parliament has required the Government to submit a proposal regarding the said amendments by the end of November 2022.

Climate Change Act guides administrative measures

The current and new Climate Change Act concern the planning of climate change policy in Finland and the monitoring of its implementation, i.e. the tasks of the authorities. We are closely monitoring the further preparation of the amendment to the new Climate Change Act as well as the impacts of the tightening climate objectives on substantive legislation directly guiding the operations of companies.