Climate change legislation

Finland's national legislation concerning climate change policy has evolved gradually, reflecting the obligations imposed by international conventions and EU legislation. The Climate Change Act (609/2015), which entered into force in June 2015, is the first national statute defining general long-term guidelines for Finland's climate change policy and laying down provisions on a planning system for climate change policy.

The reform of the Climate Change Act

In line with the Government Programme, the steering power of the Climate Change Act will be reinforced. We will amend the Act in a way that will enable us to achieve our target of carbon neutrality by 2035. We will update our target for 2050 and add emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 to the Act in line with our path to carbon neutrality. In order to achieve the objectives of the Climate Change Act, we will revise the medium-term and long-term climate plans and prepare a new climate programme for the land use sector.

Climate Change Act

The key elements of the Act:

  • a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990
  • a planning system for administrative actions for reducing emissions in sectors outside the Emissions Trading System and monitoring of the implementation of the plans
  • the division of tasks concerning the activities of authorities as specified by the Act
  • the strengthening of the role of Parliament and of opportunities for public participation in formulating climate change policy

The Climate Change Act lays the foundation for the long-term, cost-effective planning and monitoring of climate change policy. It serves as a goal-oriented framework act concerning state authorities, but it does not include concrete legal provisions for different fields of activity. The Act does, however, lay down provisions on the planning system for climate change policy, which consists of the medium-term plan for climate change policy, to be approved by the Finnish Government once every government term, the long-term plan for climate change policy and the national adaptation plan for climate change, to be approved at least once every ten years.

The Finnish Government submits a report to Parliament on the climate change policy plans that it has prepared. Parliament also receives information about the achievement of targets and objectives concerning climate change and on the effectiveness of the measures as part of the annual climate change report included in the Government's annual report. Furthermore, the Climate Change Act includes provisions on appointing a multidisciplinary expert body called the Finnish Climate Panel.

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

Magnus Cederlöf, Senior Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250060