In communicating its long-term low-emissions development strategy to the UNFCCC, Finland joins Benin, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, the EU, Fiji, France, Germany, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, the US, the UK, and Ukraine.
The strategy assesses Finland’s emissions reduction potential and needs by sector in three scenarios to achieve its 2035 carbon neutrality target, and reviews opportunities to reduce emissions by as much as 90% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, with the possibility of achieving net negative carbon emissions when accounting for the land use sector.
Finland has communicated its long-term low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission development strategy (LEDS) to the UNFCCC. Finland’s LEDS charts scenarios and impact assessments to achieve its 2035 carbon neutrality target, and reviews longer-term emissions reduction and removal opportunities by 2050.
The LEDS assesses Finland’s emissions reduction potential and needs by sector in three scenarios concerning the country’s 2035 carbon neutrality target. The reference scenario reviews development that would be achievable with current policy measures in place. It determines that carbon neutrality would not be possible until 2050, and even then only by leveraging 30 MtCO2eq of land use net sinks.
The ‘Continuous Growth’ scenario achieves an 87.5% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The corresponding target under the ‘Savings’ scenario achieves 90% GHG emission reductions. Both achieve carbon neutrality in 2035, and exclude the land-use sector from calculations. Neither scenario sets carbon-negative targets beyond 2035, rather they allow this level “to be determined by the size of the net carbon sink of the land use sector.” The Continuous Growth and Savings scenarios differ in their underlying technology assumptions, most significantly the viability of carbon capture and storage (CCS), as well as increases in energy efficiency and sustainable biorefinery production. The difference in the scenarios is also accounted for by differing assumptions on the structures of industry, society, and the economy as a whole.
The LEDS analyzes the emissions reduction potential and needs of the energy, industry, transport, waste, and land use sectors. The Strategy does not specifically identify the sectors to which emission reductions should be allocated, nor does it include quantitative analysis of specific policies needed to achieve the 2035 and 2050 targets. These, it states, will be decided in 2020-2021 as part of the country’s process of drafting the Climate and Energy Strategy, the Medium-term Climate Change Policy Plan, the roadmap for fossil-free transport, and the climate programme for the land use sector. Rather than consider emissions reductions from a regional or social justice perspective, Finland’s LEDS bases its calculations on the premise that emission reduction costs should be minimized across the country.
Finland originally submitted its LEDS to the European Commission in March 2020 to comply with the EU’s requirement that each member State prepare and submit to the Commission its comprehensive long-term strategy by the start of 2020.
According to the Paris Agreement on climate change, “all Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” to the UNFCCC by 2020. Benin (in French), Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, the EU, Fiji, France, Germany, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, the US, the UK, and Ukraine have already submitted their LEDS. [Publication: Finland’s Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy] [UNFCCC Long-Term Strategies Website]
By Gabriel Gordon-Harper, Thematic Expert on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy