Latest news in climate law: the appeal concerning the sufficiency of the state’s climate actions ruled inadmissible by the SAC


Finland’s new Climate Act entered into force in July 2022. Amendments to the Act were approved in December 2022, and on 1 January 2023 the Climate Act was amended with provisions that concern appealing decisions made thereunder.

On 28 November 2022, before the amendments entered into force, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Greenpeace Norden filed an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court, requesting that the Finnish Government’s decision on the Annual Climate Report 2022 be revoked and sent back to preparation. This was the first time the sufficiency of the state’s climate actions was challenged in court in Finland. According to the NGOs, the Government had failed in its duty to take the necessary additional actions in terms of carbon sinks to ensure the realisation of the targets set out in the Climate Act.

Supreme Administrative Court ruled the appeal inadmissible

Under its decision of 7 June 2023, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) dismissed the NGOs’ appeal.

The SAC examined the admissibility of the appeal very broadly, referring for example to the Finnish constitution. While the SAC ended up ruling the appeal inadmissible, it stated, among other things, that assessing the legality of the Government’s decision-making as intended by the appellants could be examined by the court in such a case that failure to make a decision would lead to an outcome contrary to the Climate Act or that the Government’s actual actions would show that it has no intention of making appropriate decisions in order to achieve the goals and obligations required by the Climate Act in a sufficiently short time frame.

The SAC further stated that the appealability of the Annual Climate Report should not be assessed differently based on the regulation on appeals under the amended Climate Act.

Case law regarding climate actions likely to be specified in future

It is noteworthy that pursuant to the SAC’s decision, the passiveness of the Government could be examined by the court in the abovementioned situation. Furthermore, the decision of the SAC was reached only after a vote. The minority of the formation of the court found the Government decision to be admissible for appeal. Therefore, it is to be expected that the sufficiency of the Government’s climate actions will be challenged in Finnish courts again.

See also:

Latest news in climate law: Climate Act amended and Finland’s first climate litigation case filed

New Climate Change Act aims at carbon neutrality