Environmental organisations in Finland on Monday filed a legal challenge accusing the government of breaking its own commitments to protect the climate, the first challenge of its kind in the country.
Finland has struggled to balance its climate ambitions with its forestry industry, which is an important part of its economy In recent years.
In 2020 for instance, Finnish foresty product exports were worth 10.4 billion euros, amounting to 18 percent of the country’s total exports. A growing number of organisations and individuals around the world have turned to the courts to challenge what they see as government inaction on the climate.
Recall that In July, Finland passed the Climate Change Act, which aims to make the country carbon-neutral by 2035.
However, environmental groups say that the government had ignored its own laws by failing to protect the Nordic nation’s carbon sinks which are natural systems, such as forests, that absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it in, for example, vegetation and soil.
“The government has violated its own Climate Change Act by not taking a decision on additional measures to meet Finland’s climate targets,” Hanna Aho, Policy Officer for the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) said in an interview. “As a result, it seems very unlikely that climate targets will be met,”.
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The FANC and Greenpeace, which jointly mounted the legal challenge, say that carbon sinks in Finland have “collapsed” due to an increase in logging and to slower tree growth.
Reacting, Aho said that the most recent chance for the government to address the issue was its Annual Climate Report in October but that still lacked the necessary “assessment on measures to protect the sinks.
“Logging has not been restricted, even though it is known to be the most important factor affecting the size of carbon sinks,” she said.
The organisations petitioned the country’s Supreme Administrative Court to overrule the government’s decision to submit the report without “additional measures to enhance carbon sinks”.
They said that the report should be sent back to the drawing board because it was not in line with the Climate Change Act, noting that Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government’s inaction is in stark contrast to the obligations of the Climate Change Act.
Reports suggest that the matter will be up to the court to decide whether or not to hear the case.
More than 600 activists in neighbouring Sweden, including Greta Thunberg, reportedly filed a lawsuit on Friday accusing the state of climate inaction, also a first in the country.
Story was adapted from France 24.