Climate change is a concern for a growing number of Finns, shows survey

Over 30 per cent of Finns list climate change as one of the three foremost threats to the future of Finland, finds a survey by Alma Media.

Climate change is considered a serious threat by a growing number of Finns, finds a survey of future threats in Finland by Alma Media.

Almost a third (31%) of respondents to the survey listed climate change as one of the three most important threats looming over the future of the country, a share that represents an increase of eight percentage points from the previous year.

Juha Kaskinen, the head of the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku, says that although climate change is regarded as a threat by a growing share of the population, it is surprising that it ranks as low as fifth on the list of threats.

“We’re talking about a comprehensive trend of change that’ll have a widespread impact on the fundamentals of our lives. The consequences of climate change, such as migration, will have major economy and security-related multiplier effects,” he reminds.

The survey found that climate-related concerns are subject to notable regional variation: climate change was included on the list of threats by 44 per cent of respondents from Helsinki but only by 19 per cent of respondents from Oulu.

Finns identified social polarisation as the most important threat to the country, with 40 per cent of respondents listing it as one of the three foremost threats.

Unemployment emerged as the second most important threat to the future of the country even though the share of respondents who had it on their list of the three foremost threats fell from 46 to 37 per cent between 2017 and 2018. Over a third (36%) of respondents identified the inability of the society to change and 34 per cent population ageing as one of the three foremost threats to Finland.

Immigration, meanwhile, was listed as one of the three most important threats by 27 per cent, terrorism by 25 per cent and nearby military tensions by 21 per cent of respondents.

Kaskinen reminds that it is important to recognise that change is constant and inevitable and that it should consequently be perceived not only as a threat but also as a possibility to create something new and better.

“People have a tendency to construe structures that provide some ostensible stability to the world. That’s why many perceive change as a threat. Even larger changes are based on gradual developments. Only few realise how much the world has changed over the past 30 years,” he explained.

The future, he added, should also be understood as something that we all shape as part of a society and humankind.

“The objective of policy making and collective decision making is to offer visions and solutions. It’s problematic if policies are drawn up primarily with only the next electoral term in mind,” said Kaskinen.

The polarisation and inability to change of a society could therefore ultimately be among the most serious threats, because they complicate the efforts to combat common challenges such as climate change.

Tietoykkönen interviewed a total of 3,600 people for the survey between 18 May and 4 June 2018.

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