Tämä sivu suomeksi: Suomi
Finland is a civil law country, thus the legal state does not experience an impact as much due to precedents and case law as in common law countries. With that said, there is case law on climate and environmental law in Finland, though not in the same extent as in some other countries. Also needed to say, that finnish case law's, in all areas not only in climate law, even precedents', analysis and explanations have been criticized of being too superficial and lacking real legal analysis. The analysis itself is usually fairly beneficial but it is lacking a lot of comparative analysis and explanation on why the court reached to the outcome they did and not on another.
Finland as a country, and a European Union member state, takes serious the climate challenges, and climate change we are facing today. The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra published a study Growth-Positive zero-emissions pathways to 2050 where they proved that the 1.5-degree target, defined in the Paris Agreement, is still possible to accomplish but for more, that stringent climate actions and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. European Union Institutions reached to a historical conclusion on the 21 April 2021, when enacting climate legislation for the first time in EU history. The aim is to cut the greenhouse emissions by at least 55% by the year of 2030, and becoming the first the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Although, some member states have disagreed with the goal, especially Poland, Finland has its own, more ambitious, goal where the Government programme has stated that Finland would be carbon neutral by 2035. However, the fact that European Climate Law has been enacted is a huge step not only recognizing climate change as a real problem but as well set legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 which forces not only EU institutions but also member states taking the necessary measures at both, EU and national level to meet the target.
The European Climate Law could enable easier litigation process against a Member State or the European Union itself, if failing to reach the aim of the law, net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That itself is a huge win for climate litigation in the European level.
So far, there has not been a single climate litigation case in Finland, and the idea of one, does not fit into the national litigation process without problems. The case Urgenda Foundation v. State of the Netherlands in the Netherlands however raised a question in National level as well, could a case such as Urgenda become in reality in Finland. It is however still quite unclear, would the Finnish legislation allow such litigation.
Maybe the closes we have gotten in climate litigation, is a case adjudicated by the Supreme Administrative court, KHO 2019:37, where one of the legal issues were climate change. The court had to compare interests to decide whether or not a permission to drill a dwell could be granted. The court however stated that due to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the undertaking would reduce, which was one of the aims the dwell was aiming to, was to be estimated only as slight, and thus this kind of benefit (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) could not be taken into consideration as significant benefit for common good, and it couldn't be used as a legal argument on the reasoning for the case.
The possibility for climate litigation
Although it is unclear whether or not Finnish legislation allows climate litigations, and although there are only few researches, some scholars have discussed on the possibility and about which legislations could make climate litigation possible. This might be especially due to Finland not having a long and stable policy on strategic litigation. It has been argued that the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act § 20, could provide the legislative basis for a climate litigation case, when according to it, An administrative court must consider as a matter of administrative litigation any dispute that concerns interest, right or obligation arising from a legal relationship governed by public law. According to Finnish constitution § 20, the public authorities shall endeavor to guarantee for everyone the right to a healthy environment and for everyone he possibility to influence he decisions that concern their own living environment could work as a legal basis for climate litigation since it quite clearly states the public authorities responsibility for guaranteeing healthy environment. For more, § 22 lays the obligation for protecting human rights. Thus, it should be considered whether the Government has the obligation to protect the citizens from dangerous environmental changes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the Supreme Administrative court has adjudicated in 2001, that legislations (legislation on furthering the development of Archipelago and legislation on the development of particular areas), are only framework laws from which obligations for the Government cannot be imposed, and thus the Administrative Judicial Procedure Act § 20 couldn't be used as the legislative basis.
The President of the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court, Kari Kuusiniemi, has stated that the current legislation in Finland does not give to courts the jurisdiction it needs to be able to handle climate litigations. He has also argued that the Finnish environment legislation contains features, which deteriorates the courts chances to impact on climate change, and that the current environment legislation does not hold the possibility to consider greenhouse gases effect when deciding on environmental permit consideration.
According to the Finnish Environmental Protection Act § 186 defines the individuals or associations who may initiate the climate proceeding in Finland, including the party concerned, the municipality where the breech has occurred, and an authority protecting the public interest. Legal literature has although recognized that the party concerned may only initiate climate proceedings where the breech causes imminent and judicial impacts on the individual. Thus, in the Supreme Administrative Court decided on KHO 2013:187, that one of the applicants, A, application was insufficient when they weren't a sufferer of the environment hazard. The court argued as well that consequence based on private contracts, does not accomplish to a party of the litigation.
- Atmosmare (only in Finnish)
- The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
- Finnish Society for Environmental Law
- Greenpeace Finland
- John Nurminen Foundation
- Maan Ystävät Ry
- WWF Finland
- Link text, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra 'Growth-Positive zero-emissions pathways to 2050' 9 April 2021
- Link text EU Climate action and the European Green Deal
- Link textFinland has an excellent opportunity to rebuild itself in line with the principles of sustainable development. -Finnish Government
- Link text European Climate Law
- Link text KHO 2019:37
- Link text The Finnish Constitution
- L. Selvenius-Hurme, Ilmastopolitiikka oikeudenkäynnin kohteena - onko valtion ilmastotoimien riittävyys mahdollista saattaa tuomioistuimen arvioitavaksi hallintoriitana? (Climate politics as the object of legal proceedings - it is possible to assess the sufficiency of the Government's climate undertaking in court as an Administrative matter?)- Oikeus 1/2019 p. 67
- Link text KHO 15.05.2001/1091
- Link textPresident Kari Kuusiniemi: the treats factors of constitutional states and the climate change as concerns
- Link text, The Finnish Environmental Protection Act
- K. Kuusiniemi, A. Ekroos, A. Kumpula, P. Vihervuori. -Ympäristöoikeus (Environmental Law), 2013 pp. 1321
- Link text, The Supreme Administrative Court of Finland precedent 2013:187