EU climate policy

The climate policy of the European Union guides the actions to mitigate climate change and adapt to it, both within the EU as a whole and in individual Member States. The EU climate policy is based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol to the Convention and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The core elements of the EU climate policy are the emissions trading system ETS, national targets for non-emissions trading (effort sharing) sectors and the EU Adaptation Strategy. The EU is an active player in international climate change negotiations and the largest financer of climate actions in the developing countries.

The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent compared to 1990 by 2030. This is also the commitment the EU has declared in line with the Paris Agreement to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Another aim for the EU is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Climate in European Green Deal

The European Green Deal published by the European Commission in December 2019 presents the means to achieve climate neutrality.

As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission has already published a proposal for the European Climate Law that would confirm climate neutrality as a legally binding objective, as well as for the European Climate Pact by which all citizens and stakeholders could be involved in climate work.

The Commission is also planning to present a number of other initiatives within the next few years. In summer 2021 the Commission should give proposals for reforming the EU’s climate and energy legislation in such a way that the more ambitious emission reduction target can be achieved.

Separate targets for emissions trading and effort sharing sectors

The emission reduction targets of the EU, both for 2020 and for 2030, are divided between the sectors covered by the emissions trading system of the EU and effort sharing on the national level in sectors not covered by the ETS. Operations covered by the ETS include large industrial plants and electricity and heat production. Sectors excluded from the ETS are construction, heating of buildings, housing, agriculture, transport, waste management and F-gases from industrial processes, which together in fact produce a little more than a half of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.

How is this to be achieved? What does this mean for Finland?
Emissions trading
E.g. large industrial plants and energy and heat production.
EU target -43 %
EU has set as the target to reduce emissions by 43% from the level in 2005 by 2030. A new proposal is expected in summer 2021.
Non-emissions trading (effort sharing) sectors
Construction, heating of buildings, housing, agriculture, transport, waste management and F-gases from industrial processes.
Finland’s national target -39 %
Finland’s national target for the effort sharing sectors is to reduce emissions by 39% from the level in 2005 by 2030. A proposal concerning effort sharing based on the new target for 2030 is expected in summer 2021.
Forests and land use (LULUCF)
On the EU level zero emissions are required for the sector as a whole.
The Commission confirmed the reference levels in autumn 2020. A revised proposal is expected in summer 2021.

The target for the emissions trading sectors is to reduce emissions by 43% from the level in 2005 by 2030. In the effort sharing sectors Finland should reduce emissions by at least 39% from the level in 2005 by 2030. Commission’s proposals concerning targets for individual countries and reform of the ETS are expected in summer 2021. 

Certain flexibilities are allowed to meet the obligation, such as transferring a small number of emission reduction units from emissions trading to the effort sharing sector. It is also possible to save some of the surplus of the annual emission allocations to the coming years or purchase emission reduction units from other Member States.

The sinks and emissions of the land use, land use change and forestry sector are also taken into account in the EU’s climate objectives. In 2021–2030 there should be no emissions from the LULUCF sector (land use, land use change and forestry). The calculation rules are defined in the LULUCF Regulation.

The main responsibility for the coordination of the EU’s climate affairs in Finland rests with the Ministry of the Environment. Often the matters are discussed under the EU Environment Council.

More information

Marjo Nummelin, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250227