Climate Legislation Sweeps Across Latin America, Scandinavia

Finland has joined its Scandinavian neighbors in committing to ambitious climate legislation.

Entering into force in 2015, Finland’s "Climate Change Act" sets a binding target of cutting emissions 80% by 2050, below 1990 levels (in line with what science requires). It includes a monitoring system that ensures medium-term and long-term goals are met.

Finland’s plan addresses everything from housing to traffic and agriculture, in addition to participating in the EU-wide cap-and-trade system.

Previously approved by government officials, "elevating it to the legislative level will ensure emissions reductions are planned and predictable," says the announcement.

"When the preparation of climate policy is done in an open democratic process, the opportunities for public participation also improve. For companies, predictable climate policy will create an excellent platform for identifying low-carbon solutions for emissions reduction. Bolstering the dialogue on research data and policy is also important," says Ville Niinistö, Minister of the Environment.

Climate Justice

The UK passed similar legislation in 2008, and Denmark – with its world-leading target of 100% renewable energy by 2050 – raised its short-term goal for emissions cuts to 40% by 2020, from 1990 levels. Sweden is committed to eliminating fossil fuels to produce electricity by 2020 and gasoline cars by 2030. In 2009, Sweden launched the world’s first carbon label on foods and all state-owned companies are required to file annual sustainability reports. Norway‘s target is 68% renewables by 2020, and the world’s third-largest oil exporter, taxes income from oil to fund the transition to a green economy.  

Early this year, the EU reassessed its climate targets, setting new binding targets of cutting emissions 40% (below 1990 levels) by 2030 while getting 30% of its energy from renewable energy and improving efficiency by 40%. The binding vote is waiting on Poland, which relies almost completely on coal for energy.

Latin America

Similarly, climate legislation is being adopted across Latin America.

Since Mexico passed comprehensive climate legislation in 2012, a slew of countries are following: Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Peru have either passed bills or are in the process of doing so. 

Mexico’s law targets emissions cuts of 50% from 2000 levels by 2050 and 35% of electricity from renewable energy by 2024. It sets the stage for national cap-and-trade and includes goals for states to reverse deforestation.

These developments are giving people hope that a world treaty can finally – and desperately – be realized at the all-important UN Climate Summit in 2015, which takes place in Paris.

Peru hosts this year’s Climate Summit in December, the final steppingstone to Paris. 

Read our article, Countries Finding New Ways to Address Climate Change.

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