To date, there are no climate litigation cases against private actors in Finland. Finnish law does not directly set climate change-related obligations on business entities or individuals. Furthermore, it stipulates limits to the requirements that can be imposed on them (e.g. environmental permits may not limit the choice of energy sources). However, there are grounds on which future legal disputes in this area could be based:
- The National Adaptation Strategy 2022 – although a political text and not legally binding – establishes strategic goals not only for public bodies but also for individuals and businesses. It stipulates that “[w]hen preparing and enforcing laws for business sectors the changes of the climate and the climatic risks shall be taken into account”. Interim targets require actors to evaluate and control climate risks with appropriate tools. Furthermore, adaptation has to be part of planning and operations of private enterprises.
- The national forest legislation is highly relevant to climate litigation as about 75% of the territory is covered by forest and most of it is owned by private actors. While these forests constitute a large part of the national market, they are also an effective carbon sink to mitigate global warming. The law provides for forest management plans that regulate harvesting and other measures, for which permits are not required. If the requirements set by the law are not met, concessions may be suspended. This means that the forest legislation can be a tool in the hands of citizens to act against private actors who carry out harmful activities for the forests and the environment.
Citizens may claim compensation for environmental pollution under civil law (Environmental Damages Act 737/1994). In this case, they have to prove that climate change would cause environmental pollution. Although environmental pollution is usually associated with short-term changes in the environment, future litigation may convince courts that climate damages or global warming as such represent such pollution.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/finland
This country report has been produced by Marta Solari, Research Assistant, Catherine Hall, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Lennart Wegener, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Erkki J. Hollo, C2LI National Rapporteur for Finland. The summary is based on Erkki J. Hollo, “Climate Change and the Individual in the Finnish Legal System” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.