Thousands march demanding more climate change action

The march comes one week before the general elections, to focus politicians' attention on the issues.

Climate change protesters gather at Senate Square in Helsinki, 6th April 2019 / Credit: Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Helsinki this weekend, to draw attention to climate change issues just one week before the general election.

Police say an estimated 10,000 people took part in the gathering which began at Senate Square, and ended on the steps of parliament on Saturday afternoon.

Although the event was a-political, coordinated by non-governmental organisations like WWF Finland, Greenpeace and Korvaamaton, many politicians took part in the rally and march.

“It’s great to see how many people are moving for this important thing. And how much young people are on the march. It gives hope” says Green Alliance chair Pekka Haavisto.

“Many understand the necessity of a low-emission future” says Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) who has styled himself as a ‘blue-green’ politician in the election campaign, with a graphic of an electric car on his campaign posters.

“A responsible politician not only thinks of the next term, but the next generations” says Social Democrat leader Antti Rinne in a statement.

Politicians already taking action

In December, eight parliamentary parties signed an agreement to go beyond the 2015 Paris Agreement to do more to tackle climate change.

Among 13 action points, politicians agreed to renew Finnish and EU climate policies to limit global mean temperature increases to 1.5C; achieve carbon neutrality in Finland by 2050; and to do more to develop Finnish forests which act as carbon sinks – as well as making energy and heat production emission-free by 2030.

In December, the government also launched an online service to help citizens calculate and reduce their own carbon footprint by half.

And the government’s Climate Change Plan 2030 shows how the country can achieve climate-smart day-to-day living.