Finns join global climate crisis protest movement

Protests in thousands of towns and cities around the world launch a week of climate strike events to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

Climate change protesters outside parliament in Helsinki, 20th September 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Finnish activists have joined hundreds of thousands of others around the world to demand more action to fight climate change.

Around a hundred people gathered outside Parliament on Friday with banners, costumes, music and speeches.

Although the main global protests are happening today, the focus of Finnish events will be next Friday instead.

However, today also marks the start of the second year of ‘Fridays For Future’ protests at parliament.

High school student Atte Ahokas has been sitting on the steps outside the building most Fridays, skipping classes and taking a bus to the capital to make his voice heard.

“There have been changes. The new government has a better climate policy but it’s not good enough. We still need more drastic climate action, and globally it’s really important” he tells News Now Finland.

Ahokas says he thinks the message is getting through to politicians who see him and other young people protesting weekly outside parliament.

“Those politicians who already support more radical climate policy like Greens and Left MPs, they will talk more, but not so much those MPs who would need to be talked with” he adds.

File picture of Steve Baynes, Co-Founder of Save Pond Hockey, Finland. September 20th, 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

A week of climate strike events 

The worldwide events which started on Friday are the beginning of a concerted week long climate strike push.

Marches are expected in 4000 locations across 130 countries with support from civil society groups.

“If we want to have any hope of solving the climate crisis we need to have legislation and policies that support climate action now and Finland has just recently declared that we’re going to be carbon neutral by 2035 and basically this is to put pressure on that, and make sure the promise is fulfilled by this cabinet, and future cabinets too” explains Steve Baynes, one founders of Finland’s Save Pond Hockey movement.

The organisation is pushing to highlight climate change through sport, and has enlisted some big names including President Sauli Niinistö to join their pond hockey games each winter – games which will be impossible to play in the future if the global temperature keeps climbing and ice continues to melt.

“Our campaign resonates for Finns, and also for Canadians where I’m from! In Finland next year we’re going to have our big Helsinki tournament again, hoping to get more teams and more NHL and Liiga alumni on board again, and we’re going to have tournaments in the same cities as before, Tampere, Mikkeli and Oulu, and then hoping to add a few more cities like Lappeenranta, Turku and Joensuu as well” he says.