Reform of the Climate Change Act
A carbon-neutral Finland by 2035 was set as the target in the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government. The Climate Change Act has been reformed to reach the target. The key objective of the new Climate Act is to ensure that Finland will achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 at the latest.
The new Climate Act (423/2022, in Finnish) entered into force on 1 July 2022. The previous 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.
New emission reduction targets by 2030 and 2040 are included in the Act and the previous emission reduction target by 2050 is updated. In addition, the scope of the Act is extended to also cover the land use sector, and a target concerning the strengthening of carbon sinks is added. According to the new Climate Change Act, the rights of the Sámi people must be taken into account and negotiations with the Sámi Parliament must be conducted in the processes to prepare climate change policy plans.
Supplementing the Climate Act
A government proposal supplementing the Climate Act is to be submitted to Parliament in autumn 2022. In its budget session in September 2021, the Government decided that an obligation to draw up climate plans at the local, district or county level should be included in the legislation. The obligation concerning the climate plans of municipalities will be prepared as a separate proposal for amending the Climate Act. In addition, provisions on request for review would be included in the same proposal.
Documents related to the preparation (in Finnish) are available at Gateway to Information on Government Projects.
Decrees to be issued under the Climate Act
Two Government decrees are to be issued under the Climate Act in the beginning of 2023. The Decree on the Finnish Climate Change Panel will lay down further provisions e.g. on the composition of the Panel and how the members are selected. The Decree on the Sámi Climate Council will issue more detailed provisions e.g. on the responsibilities, composition and term of the Council.
Preparation of the total revision
In January 2020, the Ministry of the Environment appointed a working group to prepare the reform of the Climate Change Act. This work was completed on 31 March 2021. The working group outlined alternative ways to reform the Climate Change Act. The Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy guided the preparation process and provided the main policy outlines concerning the Climate Change Act.
Background studies were also commissioned to support the preparation, including:
- Linkages between the Climate Change Act, other legislation and fundamental and human rights issues - Study commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment in 2020. Ari Ekroos et al. Aalto University publication series SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY, 4/2020 (in Finnish, summary in English)
- Possibilities to increase the effectiveness of the Finnish Climate Change Act. Mikael Hilden et al. Publications of the Government´s analysis, assessment and research activities 2021:5 (in Finnish, abstract in English)
Assessments have been conducted regarding the impacts of the different regulatory options. Read more about the assessments:
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE: Impact assessment of the reform of the Climate Change Act (in Finnish, abstract in English)
The process to prepare the reform started with extensive consultations in autumn 2019. In these, a particular focus was on children and young people and the Sámi people. Children and young people were selected as a target group because they are the ones that will face the impacts of climate change the most strongly in the long term. The Sámi culture, in turn, is particularly vulnerable to climate warming.
Among the events organised in 2019 were a roundtable discussion between ministers and young people and the ‘Children take over the Government’ event, where the key theme was climate change mitigation through legislative means. Besides these consultations, towards the end of 2019 the Ministry of the Environment conducted small-scale social media surveys on the reform of the Climate Change Act, and a more extensive online survey that brought about 2,500 responses.
In spring 2020, four consultation events were organised for the relevant stakeholders, specifically targeted at the agricultural and land use sector, business life, municipalities and regions, and legal scientists. In addition, during the same year several public events related to the reform of the Climate Change Act were held in different parts of Finland.
In October-November 2020 the Ministry of the Environment organised an online consultation together with the ‘Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation (BIBU)’ research project. The participants were asked to tell their views on civic participation, social justice, access to information and the rights of the indigenous Sámi people in the Climate Change Act.
Circulation for comments and amendments to the proposal
The draft government proposal was circulated for comments from 2 July to 6 September 2021. A total of 448 opinions came in, and the government proposal was modified on the basis of the feedback.
The updated proposal was discussed in the Ministerial Working Group on Climate and Energy Policy on 17 November. The Working Group guides the preparation process and draws up the key policy outlines for the Climate Change Act.
The proposal was also amended on the basis of the opinion issued by the Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis on 4 February 2022. The Government approved the legislative proposal on 3 March 2022.
The government proposal was submitted to Parliament on 3 March 2022. More information on the consideration of the proposal in Parliament is available on the website of the Finnish Parliament (in Finnish).