Climate change legislation

Finland's national legislation concerning climate change policy has evolved gradually, reflecting the obligations imposed by international conventions and EU legislation. 

Finnish Climate Change Act

The new Climate Change Act (423/2022, in Finnish) entered into force on 1 July 2022. The previous Climate Change Act, the first one in Finland, was adopted in 2015. The new act lays down provisions on climate change policy planning and the related monitoring, and sets the national climate objectives. The act also imposes obligations on the authorities. 

Read more about the reform of the Climate Change Act

The key elements of the Act:

  • Climate neutrality target, emission reduction targets based on the recommendations of the Finnish Climate Change Panel and target to strengthen carbon sinks
  • Climate change policy planning system comprised of four plans
  • Annual Climate Change Report that monitors e.g. trends in emissions and achievement of the emission reduction targets and assesses the need for further measures
  • Specification of the distribution of tasks between authorities in climate change policy planning and the related monitoring 
  • Finnish Climate Change Panel and Sámi Climate Council as expert bodies
  • Rights of the Sámi people and climate justice taken into account

The Climate Change Act sets out the national targets related to climate change. According to the Act, Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2035. A target to strengthen carbon sinks is also included in the Act. The Act specifies three emission reduction targets: the aim is to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of 60% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 90% but aiming for 95% by 2050 compared to the levels in 1990. 
The Act also sets out a planning system for climate change policy that consists of the Long-term Climate Change Policy Plan, National Climate Change Adaptation Plan, Medium-term Climate Change Policy Plan and Climate Change Plan for the Land Use Sector. The Medium-term Climate Change Policy Plan is drawn up once in every government term and the Long-term Climate Change Policy Plan at least once every ten years. The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan and Climate Change Plan for the Land Use Sector are drawn up at least every second government term. 

The process to prepare the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan based on the Climate Change Act of 2015 is under way. The first Climate Change Plan for the Land Use Sector is also being prepared and it should be completed by the end of 2022. 

The Climate Change Act lays down provisions on two independent expert bodies. The Finnish Climate Change Panel with representatives from different fields of science produces information for climate change policy planning and decisions. The Sámi Climate Council is composed of scientists and representatives of the traditional Sámi culture and knowledge. The Sámi Climate Council supports the preparation of climate change policy plans and identifies key issues with regard to the rights of the Sámi people. The aim of the planning system for climate change policy under the Climate Change Act is to ensure that the measures are fair and just and to promote sustainable development. 

Regulation and guidance related to mitigation of climate change and adaptation to it in different administrative branches

Many of Finland's national regulations concerning the mitigation of climate change are based on the obligations arising from the UN's Climate Convention and EU regulations. Finland has issued an Act on the Use of the Kyoto Mechanisms (109/2007). The implementation of the EU's Emissions Trading System Directive (2003/87/EC) has also required national legislation. The EU directive on the geological storage of CO2 (2009/31/EC) has also been implemented with a national act.

The decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (No 406/2009/EC) defines emissions reduction obligations in sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System, excluding the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sectors (the LULUCF sector) and international maritime traffic.

Finland's national legislation concerning sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System includes a number of statutes that have an effect on the efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions or on the maintaining and enhancing of carbon sinks that function in the mitigation of climate change. For instance, regulations concerning transport, land use and construction, agriculture and forestry, waste management, and environmental protection can – at least indirectly – affect the mitigation of climate change and adaptation to it through, for example, obligations concerning the promotion of sustainable development and energy and materials efficiency. There are many regulations directly related to adaption to climate change in the water sector as well.

Examples of some of the legislation mentioned above include the Land Use and Building Act (132/1999), the Waste Act (646/2011), the Act on the Sustainability of Biofuels and Bioliquids (393/2013), the Act on Energy Performance Certification of Buildings (50/2013) and the Flood Risk Management Act (620/2010).

More information

Outi Kumpuvaara, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250225  


Karin Cederlöf, Specialist 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250010  


Jarmo Muurman, Senior Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250185