Climate change – global policy and cooperation

Climate change has wide-ranging impacts. That is why actions to combat it must be incorporated into all aspects of societal policy, including foreign policy, security policy, trade policy and development policy. The consequences of climate change burden poor developing countries the most seriously. Finland supports the climate measures of developing countries as part of development cooperation.

International climate agreements

The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, is one of the most important milestones of the work against climate change. The other two key agreements are the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its supplement, the Kyoto Protocol.

The Paris Agreement is a comprehensive legally binding instrument. For the first time nearly all the countries of the world have indicated their willingness to take action to tackle climate change.

The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C and to aim to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. The agreement also sets a long-term target to focus on climate change adaptation. Finance flows will be made consistent with a route to low-carbon climate-resilient development.

The aim is to get global emissions to peak as soon as possible and undertake rapid reductions thereafter. Another goal is to achieve a balance between man-made emissions and removals by carbon sinks in the second half of this century.

The Paris Agreement does not contain any quantified obligations for the reduction of emissions. The countries will prepare their own national emission targets under the Paris Agreement and report to each other on how well they are doing to implement their targets. The Paris Agreement entered into force in November 2016, and it has been ratified also by Finland. At present international climate negotiations are focusing on how to implement the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement will reduce emissions on a global scale as of 2020. Until then, emission reduction measures will be based on the Kyoto Protocol and the short-term measures agreed on in Paris. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2005. It is the first legally binding instrument that has managed to reduce emissions internationally.

Climate change challenges development

The adverse impacts of climate change on local climate, such as the increase in storms or droughts, cause problems especially for the poorest countries and small island states. Impacts of climate change must be taken into account in countries’ plans for the future so that the results achieved so far are not nullified.

Climate change also poses security threats. It generates migration, undermines food security, creates new health threats, increases competition for natural resources and can thus feed conflicts.

The broad security perspective of the EU’s and Finland’s security policy focuses on comprehensiveness and preventive measures. Finland supports the climate measures of developing countries as part of development cooperation.

Adaptation to climate change means that the adverse effects of climate change are identified and provision is made for them. The aim is to reduce the vulnerability of both human communities and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change and to improve their ability to recover from disasters caused by climate change.

Adaptation measures may vary greatly depending on location. The means to tackle climate change are different in coastal areas susceptible to storms than in grazing land affected by draught, for example.

Climate change affects men and women in different ways

Climate change has adverse impacts on the food security of households, which in developing countries is largely the responsibility of women.

Women have diverse everyday experience of how best to adapt to climate change and how it can be curbed most effectively. However, women’s possibilities to influence decision-making are often weak.

Finland has supported inclusion of the gender perspective in climate measures since 2008.  The new Paris Agreement takes into account the gender equality perspective, which was Finland’s objective in the negotiations. The Contracting Parties are urged to observe gender equality promotion and the empowerment of women in their climate actions.

Finland supports developing countries’ climate measures as part of development cooperation

Finnish climate finance to developing countries (PDF, 1 page)

Developing countries need support in their national climate actions. They need support, for example to develop legislation and climate officials’ know-how and strengthen climate institutions. They also need to build citizens’ resilience and decrease their vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change in both rural and urban environments.

Industrialised countries support the poorest countries by various means. They provide funding and expert assistance so that developing countries can develop their own potential to respond to climate change. Technology development and transfer also play important roles. In all this development cooperation has an important part to play.

Finland uses a variety of channels to provide this support, including funds established under the UNFCCC, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), bilateral development cooperation projects and NGO projects. In 2017, development policy investments were channeled into the Finland–IFC Climate Change Program, a joint climate fund that Finland set up together with the IFC (International Finance Corporation), a member of the World Bank Group. The climate perspective is also taken into account in Finnfund’s financing.

Examples of Finland’s support for the climate measures of developing countries:

  • Developing countries’ adaptation is supported through meteorology projects carried out by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). They focus on the development of developing countries’ own meteorological services.

  • Finland supports Deforestation and Forest Degradation – REDD+ programmes in almost all of the target countries for forest cooperation, such as Zambia and Myanmar. These countries are studying the coal and biomass of forests and developing forest information systems.

Reduction of deforestation is important

Forests bind carbon dioxide. The greenhouse gases from deforestation, or the disappearance of forests, account for almost one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation also yields many other benefits, such as the protection of water reserves and biodiversity and the prevention of soil erosion.

Finland has vast areas of forest, and uses its long-term forest knowledge when supporting sustainable forestry in developing countries. Climate change is taken into account when planning forestry projects to be financed in developing countries.

The carbon market provides cost-effective emissions control

Climate change mitigation needs cost-effective ways of reducing emissions. By pricing greenhouse gas emissions, investments are directed to lower carbon alternatives.

Finland supports the pricing of emissions in developing countries among others in the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness Fund. Through the fund, 19 countries receive support for the development of emissions trading schemes, carbon taxes and other emissions pricing schemes.

Alongside development cooperation, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs procures emission reductions from investments made through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It is a system under the Kyoto Protocol where industrialised countries finance emission reduction projects in developing countries.

Target countries benefit from the projects: they obtain funding and new technologies promoting sustainable development. Industrialised countries get access to emission reduction credits from projects; they can use these credits to supplement their own emission reduction obligations.

Finland’s CDM project portfolio has a total of about 150 projects in developing countries. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment coordinates the purchase programme under the Kyoto mechanism.

During the ongoing second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013–2020), emission reductions are acquired through the following carbon funds: the Asian Development Bank’s Future Carbon Fund, the NEFCO Carbon Fund and the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund. In these funds, the focus has shifted to the repatriation of emission reductions.

During the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Finland also has two bilateral clean development mechanism projects, the Ningxia Federal Solar Cooker Project in China and the Reduction of Methane Emissions from Ruseifeh Landfill project in Jordan.