Finland is legally committed to carbon negativity by 2040

Carbon dioxide elimination will soon be written into Finnish law: In a historic vote on Wednesday, the country’s Parliament approved a new Climate Change Act that would give the country carbon neutrality in 2035, and carbon negativity 2040.

Assuming it is signed by President Sauli Niinistö, the law would make Finland the first country in the world to make its carbon commitments legally valid.

University of Eastern Finland international law professor Kati Kulovesi called the new targets “remarkable,” particularly the commitment to carbon negativity. The targets are based on a scientific analysis of identified contributions to the country, which Kulovesi also praised.

“However, other details of the action may be stronger,” Kulovesi told the Protocol. “There is an important gap between current measures and requirements to reach targets, and now there is a legal obligation to act.”

The new law also updates full emission reduction targets, which require at least a 60% reduction in 2030 and 80% in 2040, compared to levels in 1990. Finland has previously committed to an 80% reduction in 2050, so this change leads to the country’s progress over a full decade.

Combining those reductions with the new legally mandatory carbon negative goals in less than 20 years would require the country to rely on carbon dioxide removal in addition to simply lowering its total emissions. .

CDR has many lines: from land-based (reforestation, conservation) to highly technical (direct air capture). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clarified that CDR in some form will be a “necessary element” if we want to keep planetary warming below 2 degrees Celsius (or, ideally, lower).

However, most countries today have only made commitments to carbon neutrality, which are featured at international gatherings such as the Conferences of the Parties on climate change. While some of these are legally valid – Finland cites the laws of Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom as examples – many are not.

There are other, smaller countries that have already brought their emissions to less than zero, such as Bhutan and Suriname. These carbon negative club members are in the forest and getting more carbon dioxide than they emit through a combination of soil protection and aggressive measures to maintain their emissions.

Joining the club can be difficult for Finland, however, as the country still relies heavily on fossil fuels for its energy needs. And according to preliminary data from Statistics Finland, the country’s land use sector emits more greenhouse gasses than it absorbed for the first time in 2021, up to 2.1 million tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide.

But with legal self -responsibility to its international commitments, the country will soon have no choice but to change.


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