Finland sets world’s most ambitious climate pledge in law


Finland’s parliament last week passed a new Climate Change Act, promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2035 and negative emissions by 2040. The timeline is much ahead than other countries, and the law makes Finland the world’s first country to create a legally obligatory climate negative pledge.

“High-income countries must play a progressive and active role in addressing climate change,” said Finnish Environment Minister Emma Kari.

The objective was determined based on the work of The Finnish Climate Change Panel, which calculated Finland’s “fair share” of the world’s remaining carbon budget based on population size, ability to pay, and past responsibility for the climate crisis.

“In every situation, the results for Finland are clear. Finland should be greenhouse gas neutral by the early 2030s and obviously net negative by 2040,” according to the study. Germany and the EU should reach net-zero emissions in the early to mid-2030s. In light of this result, the 2050 climate neutrality objective is very insufficient and should be accelerated, the report stated.

The new law also establishes interim targets, aiming to cut emissions by 60% of 1990 level by 2030 and 80% by 2040. To achieve negative emissions, Finland will need to actively develop carbon capture technology in addition to cutting emissions.

Some countries have also set carbon negative goals. These are generally smaller countries with large forests, such as Bhutan and Suriname, that can achieve negative emissions through maintaining natural carbon sinks and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, it will be difficult for Finland to replicate these small countries’ experience. According to new Statistics Finland data, Finland’s land usage was a source of emissions rather than a sink of emissions for the first time in 2021. Climate Home News reported that the country is three-fourths forest, but deforestation has been increasing in the last decade, and trees were being cut at a quicker rate and replanted at a slower rate.

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