A mixed forest in Tuusula, Southern Finland, on 26 September 2022. Almost half (49%) of Finns oppose and 38 per cent support the idea of managing forests in a way that creates jobs even at the expense of forest nature, shows a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


OVER A HALF of Finns are ready to compromise on their standard of living to tackle the climate crisis, reveals a survey conducted for Helsingin Sanomat by Kantar Public.

Helsingin Sanomat reported last week that the share of respondents who are ready to adjust their standard of living for the climate stands at 51 per cent, a rise of four percentage points from 2021. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents estimated that the voluntary choices of people will not suffice to combat climate change, a rise of nine points from 2021.

The results are not particularly surprising, viewed Pekka Jokinen, a professor of environmental policy at Tampere University.

“Climate awareness is increasing constantly and penetrating society more thoroughly than, for example, five years ago,” he said to the newspaper, referring to the emergence of climate policy discussion in all sectors of society – including the economy.

Other factors have contributed, too.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has fuelled calls for accelerating the green transition and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. More and more policy makers are also viewing ambitious climate policy as a potential benefit due to its potential impact on energy self-sufficiency, new investments and export products.

Jokinen told Helsingin Sanomat that the responses could be different if the survey questions addressed certain dimensions of consumption more specifically. “If you asked about fuels, there’d also be dissatisfaction and protest potential,” he gauged.

The biennial survey for the first included a broader set of questions about biodiversity loss, finding – perhaps surprisingly – that the public is on average more concerned about biodiversity loss than the climate crisis.

While 12 per cent of respondents said they are very concerned and 34 per cent quite concerned about biodiversity loss, the corresponding proportions for climate change were nine and 36. Yet more than a half of respondents said they were not concerned or not particularly concerned about either biodiversity loss (51%) or climate change (53%).

The responses of women were more pro-environment than those of men across the survey. For example, 29 per cent of women but 51 per cent of men viewed that forests should be managed in a way that creates jobs even at the expense of forest nature.

It is an internationally recognised fact that women are more supportive of environmental protection than men, according to Jokinen.

“There’s an absolutely systematic difference that’s mentioned even in the basic textbooks of the field,” he said to the newspaper, admitting that the reason for the phenomenon remains a mystery. “That’s more difficult to account for than other contributing factors. For example, age is a more logical contributing factor through individual interests.”

Young generations are typically more concerned about the climate crisis and demand more action to combat it than older ones as on average they have to live longer with its consequences.

Kantar Public interviewed 1,054 people for the survey on 20–26 January.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT