The Finns wish to see solutions to the climate crisis among the priority themes of the next government term and Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Growing numbers of Finns have also changed their own behaviour to mitigate climate change.
These are the conclusions to be made from a survey carried out by Kantar TNS, commissioned by the Steering Group for Central Government Climate Communications. The Climate Barometer 2019 survey was conducted to find out what the Finns think about climate change and climate policy before the general elections. An analysis was also made of how the views have changed since 2015.
Willingness to pay for a good policy
Four out of five Finns consider that urgent action is needed to mitigate climate change. The future Government should introduce even more policy measures to effectively mitigate climate change than what people thought before the previous general elections (increase in the share of the respondents from 52% to 70%). 75% of the respondents want the EU to serve as an example in climate change mitigation, independent of how this may impact on the EU’s competitiveness, and two out of three Finns consider that Finland should be a trailblazer in the introduction of new solutions that help to reduce emissions. As regards the general elections, 44% of the Finns would vote for a candidate who is active in climate change mitigation.
Three out of four consider that one the principles applied in taxation should be that those who cause emissions will also pay for them, which means that taxation could be reduced elsewhere. Almost half of the Finns think that the taxes on fossil fuels and on meat and milk products should be raised. As many as a third of the Finns would be prepared to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel powered passenger vehicles in 2030.
Climate change a threat to Finland’s economy and security
Compared to the situation four years ago, a larger share of the Finns (67%->76%) consider that the impacts of climate change in other parts of the world are a security threat to Finland. Quite many of the respondents (59%) consider that climate change constitutes an economic threat to our country. However, the majority of the respondents (80%) believe that the new kind of expertise and technical solutions needed to mitigate climate change may well create new jobs and improve Finland’s competitiveness.
The Climate Barometer also revealed strong support for development aid and assistance to the most vulnerable regions in facing the consequences of climate change among the Finns. More than 60% of the respondents consider that rich countries have the obligation to support the poorest ones in finding solutions to the climate crisis, and Finland should target more of its development aid to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Scientific background to climate change seen as stronger than before
According to the report of the International Panel on Climate Change IPCC published last October, there is a broad consensus within the scientific community that global warming is mainly caused by human activity. The Climate Barometer shows, however, that only 58% of the Finns consider that the scientists are unanimous as to what causes the warming. Still, this share is much higher than in 2015, when just a third of the respondents considered that the scientific community was in full agreement as to the causes of global warming.
The consensus that the impacts of climate change are already visible in different parts of the world and that much more negative impacts are to be expected than positive ones has stayed strong.
Growing numbers of Finns have changed their own behaviour to mitigate climate change
The concern about the impacts of climate change is already reflected in everyday choices. In 2015 only a fifth of the respondents told that they had changed their own behaviour because of climate change, but now their share has doubled.
More than half of the Finns have reduced electricity consumption and almost half of the population are buying less because of climate reasons. About a third had calculated their own carbon footprint and a fourth intend to compensate for the emissions they are causing in the next few years. Well over half of the respondents wish to have more information on climate change and advice to make climate-smart choices.
For three out of four Finns it is important that the municipalities provide opportunities for climate-friendly everyday living for their residents. Of the car users 43% told that they were now driving less than before and had increased the use of sustainable mobility. About the same share of the respondents intend to drive less in the next five years and to increase the use sustainable forms of mobility: walking, cycling or public transportation. Less than a fifth intend to give up using their own cars altogether within the next five years. For about a third of the car users the next car they intend to purchase will be powered by electricity or gas. A clear majority of the Finns, 73%, are using a privately-owned car.
About 40% of the Finns have reduced flying because of climate reasons. About the same share of the respondents intend to fly less within the next five years. A little less than half (45%) have travelled by air over the past year.
City dwellers and the well-off more prepared to take efficient climate action
The survey also reveals a strong need for social justice in climate action. The views are quite strongly divided according to the place of residence and standard of living: in the capital region people are more in favour of climate action than in rural areas, and households with more money at their disposal show more support for policy actions and are also prepared to act themselves to mitigate climate change.
Ambitious climate policy finds support, in particular, among the young, highly educated and women, and the supporters of the Green Party and Left Alliance. People voting for the True Finns and the Centre Party have the most serious doubts regarding ambitions actions.
The main obstacle to effective climate action is the high price of climate-friendly products and services. Another key challenge is the fact that the political decision-makers do not have the courage to decide on solutions that might risk their re-election, while the representatives of those causing high emissions often have a strong position in societal decision-making.
How the survey was done?
The Climate Barometer survey on the Finnish citizens’ views concerning climate issues was conducted by Kantar TNS, commissioned by the Steering Group for Central Government Climate Communications. A total of 1,013 people aged 15–74 from different parts of Finland, excluding the Åland Islands, participated in the survey. Kantar TNS collected the survey material during its Gallup Forum respondent panel held on 1-7 March 2019. The survey’s margin of error is about 3 percentage points in either direction.
The steering group has representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Culture, Prime Minister’s Office, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finnish Environment Institute, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Motiva, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Academy of Finland, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Demos Helsinki, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and Business Finland.