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Extensive research project explores the legitimacy of Finland’s climate policies

  • Environment and natural resources
  • Economy and society

Finland has set an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2035. The goal is achievable but requires drastic changes in society. How will citizens react to these changes brought on by climate policies, and will they perceive the carbon neutrality goal as a legitimate one?

This is the focus of the new Leaving No One Lost in Transition: Citizens and the Legitimacy of Finland’s Transition to a Carbon Neutral Welfare State (2035Legitimacy) project.

“Changes required to achieve the carbon neutrality goal are not possible in a democratic society without extensive support from citizens: this is the guiding idea of our project. We use an interdisciplinary approach to study the legitimacy of Finland’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2035 and explore possibilities to enhance the legitimacy of climate policies especially from citizens’ perspective,” the project’s leader, Professor Kati Kulovesi, from the University of Eastern Finland Law School says.

Launched in early 2021, the project constitutes part of the Climate Change and Humans programme of the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland. The project consortium is formed by the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute, the University of Jyväskylä, VATT Institute for Economic Research, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and the University of Helsinki. The consortium also has an extensive network of collaborators, including representatives of state and municipal administration, academic partners, labour market organisations and trade unions, and non-governmental organisations.

The Strategic Research Council’s funding for the projects amounts to 1.2 million euros.

Practical solutions to challenges posed on society by climate policies

The technological and economic framework of Finland’s carbon neutrality goal is a topic of increasing research, but the societal implications of the transition are less well understood. The 2035Legitimacy project focuses on the individual and takes a multitude of approaches to find practical solutions to legitimacy challenges associated with the carbon neutrality transition.

Within the 2035Legitimay project, a work package led by Researcher, Research Leader Marita Laukkanen (VATT Institute for Economic Research) focuses, among other things, on the employment effects of Finland’s climate policies on individuals, households and firms, and differences in these impacts between regions, income groups and occupations. The study will also develop and rank compensation mechanisms that could help offset possible adverse distributional impacts of climate policies.

A work package led by Professor Antti Belinskij (Finnish Environment Institute, UEF) deals with “climate citizenship” and citizen engagement, as well as with legal barriers and opportunities for public participation. The study also examines how climate change considerations are mainstreamed into Finnish environmental law. 

A work package led by Professor Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki) explores the legitimacy impacts of international and EU climate policy processes on Finland. This work also involves Professor Harro van Asselt (UEF).

A work package led by Professor Kari Lehtinen (Finnish Meteorological Institute, UEF) focuses on the climate impacts of Finland’s carbon neutrality policies and the generation of legitimacy through science. The study also simulates various climate policy and greenhouse gas scenarios, supporting policy-making and strengthening individuals’ knowledge base to make climate-friendly choices.

For further information, please contact:

Kati Kulovesi, Professor of International Law, University of Eastern Finland, kati.kulovesi@uef.fi, tel. +358 50 439 2173