The reform of the Climate Change Act

Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2035. The Climate Change Act is being reformed and strengthened to achieve this target.

As stated in the Government Programme, the role of the Climate Change Act as a guiding instrument will be strengthened. The Act will be amended and updated in a way that the target of carbon neutrality by 2035 will be achieved. The target to 2050 will be updated and emission reduction targets to 2030 and 2040 will be added to the Act, in line with the path to carbon neutrality. In order to achieve the objectives of the Climate Change Act, the medium-term and long-term climate plans will be revised and a new climate programme will be prepared for the land use sector. The Government proposal for the amended Climate Change Act should be ready in 2021.

Preparation of the reform

The reform of the Climate Change Act started with a number of public consultation events in autumn 2019. The aim was to hear the views of citizens and different stakeholders on how the Climate Change Act should be amended. Among the events was a roundtable of ministers and young people, and a discussion on climate change mitigation through legislative means as part of the ‘Children take over the Government’ event. A stakeholder event brought together about 50 people from various organisations to discuss the matter.

Besides these events, the Ministry conducted small-scale social media surveys on the reform, as well as a more extensive online survey that brought about 2,500 responses. In early 2020 several public events related to the reform were organised in different parts of Finland. Among the particular target groups were young people and the indigenous Saami people.

In January 2020 the Ministry of the Environment appointed a working group to prepare the reform of the Climate Change Act. The task of the working group is to prepare the key amendments to the current Act. The work is based on the Government Programme and matters raised in surveys and consultations. The working group will meet on a regular basis during 2020, and the draft Government proposal concerning the amendments is to be presented in early 2021.

Current Climate Change Act

The Climate Change Act entered into force in 2015. It is a framework act, which means that it imposes obligations on the authorities only. The Act sets an emission reduction target to 2050 and lays down a climate policy planning system for Finland, which comprises three different plans:

  • The medium-term plan to 2030 lists ways of reducing emissions in sectors not covered by the emissions trading scheme, such as transport, agriculture, waste management and the heating of buildings. The emissions trading scheme covers electricity and district heating, metal processing industry, pulp and paper industry, chemical industry, air transport and construction products industry. A new medium-term plan is drawn up for each Government term.

  • The long-term plan (time horizon to 2050) covers all emissions, including emission reductions under the emissions trading scheme and its targets. A new long-term plan is drawn up once every 10 years.

  • A new climate change adaptation plan is drawn up at least once every 10 years.

In the current Climate Change Act, the plans do not cover emissions and carbon sinks of the land use sector. According to the Act, the Government must submit Annual Climate Reports to Parliament on the implementation of the plans. Climate policy plans must be prepared in an open process, including citizen and stakeholder consultations.

More information

Elina Vaara, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of the Environment, Ympäristönsuojeluosasto, Climate 0295250097  

Karoliina Anttonen, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs 
Ministry of the Environment, Ympäristönsuojeluosasto, Climate 0295250065  

Riikka Lamminmäki, Head of Communications 
Ministry of the Environment, Information and Communications Environment Council  0295250343