Finland passes new Climate Change Act in first legally-binding climate negativity pledge

“High income countries have to take a progressive and active role when it comes to tackling climate change.”

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Finland recently committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2035 and negative emissions by 2040 after the country’s parliament passed a new Climate Change Act. This makes Finland the first country to “make a legally-binding climate negativity pledge,” Protocol reported.

The target was based on the work of The Finnish Climate Change Panel. It calculated Finland’s “’fair share’ of the world’s remaining carbon budget based on its population size, its ability to pay and its historical responsibility for the climate crisis,” EcoWatch reported.

 “The results for Finland are clear in all cases. Finland should be GHG (greenhouse gas) neutral during the early 2030s and clearly net negative from 2040 onwards,” the study authors wrote. “In the light of this result, the climate neutrality target for 2050 is highly insufficient and should be brought forward.”

The Act will lower 1990 emission levels by 60 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040, according to Protocol. Besides lowering emissions, Finland will have to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to achieve carbon negativity, EcoWatch reported.

Finland’s challenge is to protect natural carbon sinks and keep greenhouse gas emissions low by lowering land use. While the country is three-fourths forest, Finland’s deforestation over the last decade has increased at a faster rate, while replanting has been at a slower rate, according to Climate Home News.

While many call the new law “remarkable,” some said this is not enough to tackle climate change.

“High income countries have to take a progressive and active role when it comes to tackling climate change,” Emma Kari, Finnish environment minister, said.

“There is an important gap between current measures and those required to reach the targets, and now there is a legal obligation to act,” Kati Kulovesi, law professor at the University of Eastern Finland, said. 

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