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Monday's papers: Finland reacts to climate report, more unions join overtime ban, and a bid to have women join call-ups

Finnish newspapers discuss news from the IPCC, union opposition to plans to ease employee dismissal, and a Green Party idea for gender-neutral military service.

Meripuolustusalueen alokkaat antamassa valansa juhlakentällä Kirkkonummen Upinniemessä 18. helmikuuta 2011.
A young woman takes her military vow in Upinniemi, Finland. Image: Sari Gustafsson / Lehtikuva

Like many newspapers in the world this Monday, dailies in Finland are reacting to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that says that the world must take drastic measures to quickly reduce its global warming rate to 1.5 degrees. The planet is currently warming at a catastrophic 3 or even 4-degree rate. The Paris Agreement saw almost every country in the world sign on to a commitment to reduce this warming to 2 degrees, but the IPCC's new report warns this will not be sufficient, as the damage from even 2-degree warming will be too great.

Finland's most widely-read daily, Helsingin Sanomat, reports that the difference between 2 and 1.5 degrees is significant. If we allow the planet to become 2 degrees warmer on average, the paper reports that the entire ocean network of coral reefs would perish. If we could succeed in reducing this warming to 1.5 degrees, however, rises in sea levels could be cut by 10 centimetres, and the risk of the Arctic Ocean melting would drop from a ten-percent chance to 1 in 100.

HS says northern areas warm faster than the rest of the planet, meaning that if the world grows 2 degrees warmer, Finland will see average temperatures rise by 4 degrees. Of the 18 hottest years on record, 17 have taken place since the year 2000, it says.

"If Finland aims at emission reductions that would meet the 1.5-degree target, it must be carbon neutral by the mid-2030s. In other words, we should have equivalent natural carbon sinks and emissions by that time," Markku Ollikainen, head of the Environment Ministry-appointed Finnish Climate Panel, tells HS.

He says the country would have to reduce its fossil fuel emission by 100 or even 150 percent to meet this goal by the year 2050, and bolster the forests, swamps and seas that capture emissions in natural carbon sinks. Ollikainen says the first step is to reduce Finland's reliance on coal and peat, and the next step is to move past internal combustion engines to hydrogen and electricity-powered vehicles.

"The warmer the climate grows, the more undesirable phenomena we'll have," says Ari Laaksonen, scientific director of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He tells the paper that Finland should expect milder winters, an up to 20-percent increase in heavy rain, and more periods of drought and heat.

Laaksonen tells the paper that if a drastic change in fossil fuel emissions isn't made, central parts of Finland will have the same climate as Hungary by 2080, and southwest Finland would be similar to northern Italy. The hot summers would make crops grow more quickly, but it would also introduce new pests, diseases and weeds to the Nordics.

Transport workers and teachers join overtime ban

The Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva looks at two new union additions to overtime bans this week, part of widespread labour group opposition to government plans to make it easier to fire employees of micro-businesses.

Members of the Transport Workers' Union AKT will refuse to work overtime in ports, terminals, oil refineries and travel companies, while the teacher's union OAJ has announced that it will start an overtime and shift-trading ban in private day-care centres as of 8 October.

The overtime ban comes on the heels of a 24-hour strike by several service and industrial workers' unions last Wednesday to protest the government proposal. Many of these striking unions also imposed a ban on overtime and shift swaps that is projected to last until late October – or until the government cancels its plans.

Greens propose including women in military call-ups

And the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat contains a story this Monday on a bid from the Green Party to include women in military call-ups.

"We Greens feel that opening up the call-ups would be one way to increase women's participation in national military service without extending conscription to both genders," Krista Mikkonen, chair of the Greens' parliamentary group, told IS.

This year 35,000 men born in the year 2000 were liable to attend call-ups in 249 cities and towns across Finland as part of the country's system of universal male conscription. According to the Conscription Act, the call-up determines the young men's suitability and fitness for conscript service. The procedure includes verification of identity, a health check and an interview.

Women have been allowed to volunteer to serve in the Finnish army since 1995, and 1,500 young women volunteered to serve in 2018. Regional offices handle the application procedures, selections and service orders for the female soldiers.

The Greens propose that young women joining in the call-ups would be a "step in the right direction" towards gender-neutral military service, but the Finnish Defence Forces' education head, Brigadier General Jukka Sonninen, tells IS that the Greens have misunderstood the principle.

"Call-ups are a forum for commanding the date and time of service. This discussion treats them as if they were some kind of info session. The women aren't being instructed to do anything," he told the tabloid. "I don't know what they are driving at. I think it is a bad idea to have both young men and women attend the same call-up, but only one group has to go, and the others can leave if they are not interested."

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