Climate change mitigation

Climate change is a global problem to be solved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are the cause of global warming.

Climate change policy is being made in all policy arenas, from the international to the local level. The core of the international policy on climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol which is also binding on Finland, and the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015. The European Union is also an important player and, as a Member State, Finland participates in the negotiations. The EU defines its own policy objectives on climate change, which Finland is also committed to, and Finland also has a strong climate change policy of its own.

Feodor Gurvits, Image Bank of the Environmental Administration

The Ministry of the Environment is the Finnish coordinator with respect to UNFCCC negotiations on climate change and negotiations on climate issues in the EU. Within Finland, the Ministry of the Environment is the responsible party for the UNFCCC. In terms of national policies on climate change, the Ministry is responsible for matters such as land use and regional planning, waste policy and construction, which are all strongly connected to climate change issues.

Finland's climate policy

Finland observes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which it ratified in 1994. The UNFCCC has been supplemented by the Kyoto Protocol, which further specifies the obligations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of the countries committed to it. The first commitment period was from 2008 to 2012. The second commitment period from 2013-2020 is to enter into force when three-fourths of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have ratified the Doha Amendment by which the second commitment period was agreed.

The Paris Agreement (2015) covers the years from 2020 onwards. The rulebook for the agreement was finalized in Katowice in 2018. Solutions are also sought to the question how all countries could more effectively reduce their emissions even before the new agreement enters into force. The commitments to reduce emissions made so far are insufficient in terms of keeping global warming well below the internationally agreed limit of two degrees Celsius.

Scientific assessments are conducted on the adequacy of international climate change measures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces information on the background and impacts of climate change and means to mitigate it. The IPCC completed its Fifth Assessment Report in 2013–2014, and in October 2018 IPCC publishes a special report of the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C.

The emission reduction target of the European Union to 2020 is 20% compared to 1990. The Emissions Trading Directive and the Effort Sharing Decision will make sure that the EU will also meet this commitment.

In the European Council conclusions, the EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990. An agreement on the implementation of this objective was reached towards the end of 2017 when the reform of the Emissions Trading System Directive and the Effort Sharing Regulation on how the reductions are to be divided among Member States were adopted. Finland’s emission reduction objective to 2030 for the non-emissions trading sectors is 39% compared to 2005. For the first time a binding target was also set for the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF). In summer 2018 an agreement was reached on the specific targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The share of renewable energy will be raised to 32% and energy efficiency improved by 32.5% to 2030 compared to the development without any policy actions to improve energy efficiency (baseline scenario). The governance of the Energy Union provides the framework for monitoring the EU’s energy and climate objectives.

Within Finland, the Climate Change Act (609/2015) lays down provisions on the preparation of climate change policy plans and the monitoring of their implementation. The planning system under the Act aims to ensure that total greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere owing to human activity in Finland will be reduced by at least 80% by 2050.

The first medium-term climate change policy plan was completed in September 2017 and adopted by the Parliament in March 2018. Together with the National Energy and Climate Strategy adopted at the end of 2016 it implements the climate and energy policy objectives set in Prime Minister Sipilä’s Government Programme.

The National Energy and Climate Strategy specifies the key objectives and policy outlines until 2030 concerning both the emissions trading and non-emissions trading (effort sharing) sectors. The medium-term climate change policy plan applies only to the effort sharing sectors, which comprises transport, agriculture, building-specific heating, waste management and F-gas emissions. The plan is also concerned with the linkages between the sectors and cross-cutting themes, including the role of consumption, local work on climate change issues and public procurement. The plan further specifies and supplements the actions set out in the Energy and Climate Strategy to reduce emissions in the effort sharing sectors. Among the issues to be reviewed in the long-term climate policy plan is the carbon neutrality target to 2045 and the related development paths.

Further information

Jarmo Muurman, Senior Environmental Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 185,

Published 2018-09-25 at 9:38, updated 2019-02-21 at 8:39