Finland

   

Environmental Policies

#5
Key Findings
With a strong record of cooperation on conservation issues, Finland falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 5) with respect to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.6 points since 2014.

Contributions to combating climate change have been modest overall. According to a report released in late 2019, greenhouse-gas emissions had grown by 2% compared to the previous year. The country has focused strongly on water pollution, curbing industrial emissions and cleaning polluted waterways, but farm-produced waterway pollution remains a challenge.

Forest protection has also been a top priority. Efforts to halt a decline in biodiversity have been insufficient, although the government has created networks of protected areas.

The country has engaged in and honors a large number of international environmental agreements, but is rarely a forerunner in creating these regimes. It chaired the Arctic Council from 2017 to 2019, and is promoting implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Environment

#6

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
8
Finland faces quite specific environmental challenges in terms of climate change and population growth; yet the country’s contribution to larger efforts in combating climate change have to date been fairly modest. Still, after being ranked 18 out of 178 countries in Yale University’s 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Finland ranked first ahead of Iceland, Sweden and Denmark in 2016. However, in 2018 it fell to 10th place. According to a report released in May 2019, Finland’s greenhouse-gas emissions grew by 2% from the previous year, to a total of 56.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. According to another recent report, Finland emits around one metric ton of jet fuel CO2 per capita, which is the second-highest such figure in the world.

Water pollution is a major challenge in Finland. While pollution emissions from large industrial facilities have to a large extent been successfully curbed and polluted lakes and rivers have been cleaned, waterborne nutrient emissions generated by farms remain a pressing problem. According to calculations, some 1,500 lakes are in need of more active restoration measures to combat eutrophication. Finland’s most valuable natural resource is its forests. The overall annual growth rate of trees in the forests exceeds the total timber harvest, a result of institutionalized protections. Separately, efforts to halt an ongoing decline in biodiversity have proved insufficient, though the government has created networks of protected areas. The environment and natural resources are among the responsibilities of 13 centers for economic development, transport and the environment. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy supervises the general administrative work of these centers. Recent research suggests that in environmental matters in which economic factors play a key role there is a trend toward restricting the rights of citizens to be informed about and influence decisions.

Citations:
Jari Lyytimäki, “Environmental Protection in Finland,” http://finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=160041;
“Finland’s Environmental Administration,” http://www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Finlands_environmental_administration;
http://archive.epi.yale.edu/epi/country-rankings;
Sebastian Frick and Luis Marin Morillas, “Environmental Policies in Finland,” https://prezi.com/x6yy6xidpwaj/environmental-policies-in-finland/;
Siina Raskulla, “Ympäristöperusoikeus politiikkainstrumenttina ja kansalaisoikeutena,” pp. 280-297, Politiikka, 2016,Nr 4.
http://www.stat.fi/til/khki/index_en.html
Zen, Sola. 2019. “Not every ton of aviation CO2 is created equal,” https://theicct.org/blog/staff/not-every-tonne-of-aviation-CO2.

Global Environmental Protection

#6

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
8
International regimes are often sector-specific. The core of each international regime is formed by international regulatory and administrative systems, which are created and implemented through formal agreements. While Finland is certainly committed to observing many multilateral and bilateral environmental agreements concerning climate change and air pollution, Finland is not among the primary agenda-setters with regard to the advancement of international regimes. However, Finland is ranked high (10th out of 180 countries) in the latest Environmental Performance index. Finland chaired the Arctic Council during the 2017 – 2019 period, an obligation that inevitably strengthened the country’s international position, especially with regard to questions pertaining to the Arctic region. In operational terms, Finland continues to promote the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed guidelines on how to arrange environmentally sustainable meetings, conferences and seminars. All meetings of the Finnish EU presidency in 2019 were held according to sustainability guidelines. Climate change took a considerably more prominent role in the Rinne government’s program than in that of its predecessor.

Citations:
Katrina Running, “Examining Environmental Concern in Developed, Transitioning and Developing Countries,” World Values Research 5 (1): 1-25, 2012;
“Exploring Common Solutions – Finlands Chairmanship Program for the Arctic Council 2017-2019,” Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017.
https://epi.envirocenter.yale.edu/
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