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Finnish survey: 99% say action must be taken to stop climate change

Only one percent of respondents said Finland doesn't need to do anything to limit or stop global warming.

Mummo syöttää lintuja Töölönlahden rannassa
Töölönlahti Bay in early January this year looked more like early spring. Image: Rami Moilanen / Yle

More than half of respondents (53%) said everyone in Finland needs to make personal changes to avoid the looming threats posed by climate change pose, according to an Yle-commissioned survey on attitudes about climate change.

Almost all of respondents to the poll, some 99 percent, said something needs to be done to stop climate change, while just one percent said nothing needs to be done.

Meanwhile, eight percent of respondents said residents should adjust or downsize their modern lifestyles only if required by law. Nearly one-third (29%) said it doesn't make a difference if the Finnish state takes measures to combat global warming unless the rest of the world's countries do so as well.

Women demand more action than men

A good majority of women (65%) said people should take individual responsibility and adjust their lifestyles to prevent climate change. But only 41 percent of male respondents said the same.

Professor - and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Finnish Environment Institute - Jyri Seppälä said he was not surprised that women generally see the importance of changing lifestyle habits more than men.

"Women have become [society's] forerunners. Hopefully, men will [increasingly] begin to understand how important it is to think long-term and to improve the groundwork for future generations," Seppälä said.

Men and women respondents answered other questions differently, as well. The biggest differences of opinion between the sexes dealt with whether Finland should take any action to reduce the risks climate change pose if the international community fails to do so.

Just under one-fifth (19%) of women said it would not be worthwhile for Finland to act in that case, while twice as many male respondents said the same.

Unexpected political leanings

Perhaps surprisingly, the biggest proponents of personal responsibility when it comes to curbing global climate change did not come from supporters of the Greens, but rather the Swedish People's Party.

Seventy-two percent of respondents who identified as SPP supporters said they also agreed on fighting climate change at the personal level. Meanwhile, 65 of Greens supporters said the same. The lowest support for personal initiatives came from Finns Party supporters (32 percent).

Seppälä said he was surprised by the survey's results in terms of political leanings, but said it may just reflect that the issue of changing lifestyle habits is not necessarily political in nature.

"The differences between the Finns Party and the Greens are clear in some ways but not as clear as one might think. Different kinds of people can be found in every party, including the Finns Party," Seppälä said.

However, according to the survey, most Finns Party supporters - as well as the majority of Christian Democrat-devotees - said there is no reason to change their own lifestyle habits.

The survey, sponsored by Yle and carried out by polling firm Taloustutkimus, queried 1,006 residents between the ages of 15-79 at the beginning of December. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points in either direction.

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