International climate policy

The key documents of international policy on climate change are 

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992, entered into force in 1994)
  • Kyoto Protocol (1997, entered into force in 2005) 
  • Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015, entered into force in 2016).

The UNFCCC is the cornerstone of international climate policy. Its objective is to stabilise the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity at a level that poses no danger. Finland is one of the 197 Parties to UNFCCC.

UNFCCC sets out the objectives, principles and the general framework for the national efforts to mitigate climate change. It does not include any quantitative obligations.

The Kyoto Protocol contained emission reduction targets for developed countries only. The Protocol, ratified by 192 Parties, had been divided into two commitment periods, the latter of which ended in 2020. 

The Paris Climate Change Agreement was concluded in December 2015, and it concerns the time after 2020. The Paris Agreement is the first genuinely global and binding climate agreement that obliges all Parties to participate in reducing emissions. The objective of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in the global average temperature well below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to below 1.5°C. The Agreement has been ratified by 193 Parties.

Supervision of compliance with the agreements

The Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) submit annual reports on their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sinks to UNFCCC, which also obliges the Parties to report every 3 to 4 years on the implementation of climate measures they have taken to implement UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

In addition, the EU Member States submit a country report to the European Commission every two years on the policy measures they have taken and their impact on the trends in greenhouse gas emissions.

Conferences of the Parties to UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The first Conference of the Parties (COP1) was held in Berlin in 1995. Since then, the Conferences of the Parties have convened every year, except that in 2020 the Conference could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within Finland, the Ministry of the Environment coordinates the UNFCCC negotiations on climate change and negotiations on climate issues in the EU, and it is also the national responsible organisation with respect to UNFCCC in general. Finland participates in international climate negotiations as a Member State of the European Union. 

Further information on the COPs and climate change negotiations is available in the reports of the Finnish delegation (in Finnish on the Finnish-language website). Earlier reports are available at the Ministry upon request.

More information

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