To date, no climate litigation has been brought by citizen(s) in Finnish courts challenging the national climate policy. However, there are some grounds that a possible future case could be based on:
- The Finnish Climate Act (609/2015) aims to facilitate citizens participation in the national planning of climate change policies, limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and set new mitigation and adaptation targets. A participation of citizens when adopting “national actions” is not required. However, the Act contains specific duties to adopt medium and long-term policies that could provide a basis for future cases (Section 1.2 of the Act).
- A constitutional right that requires the State to act on climate change is not formally recognized. Therefore, the Constitution (731/1999) does not provide legal grounds for obliging the State to reach specific environmental quality targets or to take determined mitigation or adaptation measures. However, a right to obtain environmental information and to participate in public procedures and appeals against administrative decisions is guaranteed (Section 20 Constitution). An individual may request that the State complies with the right to obtain information and to participate in decision-making processes, including where the individual has no legal standing in the matter. Moreover, citizens have the right to obtain environmental information, without proof of interest. Furthermore, the Finnish Constitution enshrines the principle that “[n]ature and its biodiversity, the environment and the national heritage are the responsibility of everyone” (Section 20 para 1). This imposes a duty on the legislator to enact necessary regulation for the enforcement of environmental liability of everyone.
- Ultimately, Finland is party to the European Human Rights Convention, and Section 22 of the Constitution imposes an obligation to respect human rights in all decision-making.
Individuals and organisations are merely invested with the procedural right to participate and to appeal against administrative decisions. Thus, the citizens’ legal standing to act against the State, can be only upheld through the administrative courts. Class action is not permitted in environmental matters.
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.