Report: Finland reacts too late to security threats from climate change

Climate change poses several different security threats to Finland in the future, says the Institute for International Affairs.

The report has been commissioned by the government and examines the possible effects of climate change on Finland and Finnish society until 2035, when Finland is committed to being carbon neutral.

The report – published on Tuesday and prepared by a group of social scientists and climate and safety experts – looked at climate change and reducing emissions from a safety perspective.

According to the institute, this aspect has not yet been addressed in Finland Emma Hakala, a senior researcher and one of the authors of the report.

"Finland is a little late in dealing with climate security. Although there are no hurricanes [in Finland]For example, global climate change continues to extend here," Hakala said.

Hidden effects of climate change

The Institute’s report divides the security impacts of climate change into three different categories: Direct, Linked, and Transition Impacts.

The so-called climate change Direct effects include, for example, weather phenomena, such as hurricanes or floods, which are not yet visible in Finland on the same scale as in other countries, such as the United States.

However, this lack of visibility of the immediate effects of climate change in Finland means that the climate and security are not widely discussed, Hakala said, although the immediate effects affect other categories.

According to the report, the effects of climate change include the polarization of society, economic and regional inequalities and an increase in immigration.

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The debate about ending peat burning in Finland has become polarized.Kare Lehtonen / General

In particular, polarization and inequality can stifle social debate and even lead to conflict.

"If the effects of climate change affect the most vulnerable in society and exacerbate their situation, it is possible that the social debate will intensify. Then unrest can break out" Hakala said and added that although large-scale polarization has not occurred in Finland so far, the discussion about burning peat has shown how people can take strongly opposing positions on climate issues.

Decisions must be democratic and based on research

The debate on fuel tax increases also involves the threat of polarizing opinions, the report said. Next week, the Finnish government will discuss the start of budget negotiations on halving transport emissions and other climate measures.

Hakala said that this danger of polarizing opinions increases if decisions to reduce emissions are made in a hurry or in an undemocratic way. China’s decision to ban use of coal for heating homes.

"It was a catastrophic measure for the poor. Undemocratic and dramatic measures are bad. And the fear is that we will [Finland] this is also the case when there is an urgent need to tackle climate change," Hakala said.

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Senior Researcher Emma Hakala, Institute of Foreign Policy.
Emma Hakala, senior researcher at the Finnish Foreign Institute.Petteri Bülow / Yle

However, climate decisions should not be viewed from the perspective of whether they are followed by demonstrations or dissenting opinions, Hakala emphasized, but should be based on scientific research.

"It must be accepted that climate change needs to be tackled, but it needs to be studied well or it needs to be clarified how, for example, people living below the poverty line can cope with" he added.

Hakala also emphasized regional inequality, which is also a concern in Finland.

"Rural areas cannot just be forgotten, and climate action should have a regional policy perspective. In cities, the transition to electric cars is much easier than elsewhere, e.g." he said.

“Climate change must be taken into account in everything”

Finland has so far prepared for the threats of climate change, mainly due to the immediate effects of weather conditions, the institute’s report stated.

The report refers to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s National Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which includes the storm resilience of the country’s electricity grid to prevent power outages.

However, Hakala argues that climate change should be more comprehensively included in all national risk assessments.

These assessments are carried out every three years in order to identify potential risks to humans, the environment and critical systems that public authorities need to be prepared for. Climate change should be more central in every category, Hakala said, and Finland’s security of supply should also be considered in connection with climate change.

"Climate change must be taken into account in everything. Decisions should be taken systematically, but in a way that does not harm the disadvantaged," he said.

Hakala also criticizes the U.S. military’s expression of climate change "threat factor", which means that it exacerbates existing risks and their consequences.

"It creates the impression that climate change is some natural law that only comes and reinforces other threats. However, humanity has increased its impact through its own actions," he said.

Source: The Nordic Page





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