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Government approves proposal for a climate change act

Press release 2014-06-06 at 17:23

The Government approved the proposal for an act on climate change on 5 June. The Climate Change Act will require an emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050. First and foremost, the act is intended to serve as a tool for the Government and Parliament to reach the emissions reduction targets in the most cost-efficient and systematic way possible. If enacted, it will increase the efficiency of the public sector in achieving the emissions reduction targets and building a low-carbon society without imposing new obligations on businesses or other operators.

“Through the Climate Change Act, Finland strives to be at the forefront of building a successful low-carbon society. The act merges ambitious climate policies with economic success and the improvement of well-being. Climate change and the efforts to mitigate it will change the world and human activities substantially in the coming decades. The Climate Change Act will improve the operations of the public sector in terms of smart societal planning, so that Finland will still remain competitive while we work to reduce climate emissions,” Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö says, happily.

In addition to the emissions reduction targets, the core elements of the act include a planning and monitoring system, and measures to clarify the climate policy planning of state authorities. The act will cover the mitigation of climate change and adaptation to it.

“The Climate Change Act will elevate this area of political decision-making, which is becoming increasingly important for the future of Finland, to the legislative level. At the same time, it will ensure that we work towards the 2050 emissions reduction targets in a systematic manner, and that environmental policy is prepared openly. I am extremely pleased that this is the Government’s legacy in terms of securing the future of Finland,” Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö emphasises.

Systematically planned and open climate policy

A planning system would strengthen the role of Parliament in climate policy, as the government would be obliged to issue regular reports on the implementation of climate policies.

“When the preparation of climate policy is done in an open democratic process, the opportunities for public participation also improve. For companies, on the other hand, predictable climate policy will create an excellent platform for identifying low-carbon solutions for emissions reduction. Bolstering the dialogue on research data and policy is also important,” Niinistö says.

The core of the planning system would be formed by medium-term and long-term plans. The long-term plan would include the essential alternatives for reaching the long-term emissions reduction target, and it would have to be approved at least once every ten years. Finland has already made a political commitment to implementing an emissions reduction target of at least 80% by 2050, but elevating it to the legislative level will ensure that the emissions reductions are planned and predictable, and that the gap between short-term and long-term targets will be bridged in a sustainable manner.

The medium-term plan would concern measures through which emissions outside the emissions trading scheme – traffic, housing and agriculture – can be reduced. It would be approved once per election term, and the Government would report to Parliament on the implementation of the plan on an annual basis. The plan for adaptation to climate change entails a risk and vulnerability review, and it would be approved at least once every 10 years.

In addition to this, the act will include provisions on the duties of a multidisciplinary expert body, the climate panel, in support of the planning of climate policy.

The Climate Change Act is intended to enter into force in the spring of 2015.

More information

Emma Kari, Special Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 (0)295 250 076, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Tuula Varis, Director General, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 (0)295 250 310, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi