Today’s Solutions: March 31, 2023

Many countries are putting forth considerable efforts to fight climate change and reach ambitious targets of net-zero emissions. However, Finland has decided to take it up a notch.

Finland’s parliament recently passed a new Climate Change Act which legally binds it to its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2035 and negative emissions by 2040. This act makes it the first country to make a legally binding climate negativity pledge and will hopefully inspire other governments to do the same.

The target was based on the work of The Finnish Climate Change Panel, which considered factors such as Finland’s population size and its historical responsibility for the climate crisis against the world’s remaining carbon budget. 

“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,” wrote the study authors.

According to the same analysis, Germany and the EU should also be able to reach net-zero by the early to mid-2030s. This is more pressing now with the War in Ukraine threatening European energy.

“In the light of this result, the climate neutrality target for 2050 is highly insufficient and should be brought forward,” the report continues.

Countries, like Bhutan and Suriname, have already managed to reach carbon negativity. Most of these countries are quite small with lots of forested areas and can achieve negative emissions by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting their natural carbon sinks.

Though Finland is three-fourths forest, the country’s deforestation rates are accelerating, and replanting rates are falling behind. The legally binding Climate Change Act will hopefully force the country to address this issue.

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

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