The sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published on 20 March 2023, again sends an alarming message about the extent of global warming. Compared to pre-industrial times, the average global temperature has already risen by 1.1 °C. The upper limit of temperature change for safeguarding ecosystems is 1.5 °C. Human activities have caused irreversible damage to the climate, nature and human life, for instance through the increasing amount of extreme weather events and deteriorating food security. And because climate change intertwines with armed conflicts and pandemics, it will create complex global crises.
But the report also points out that there is still hope. For example, headlines by the Finnish broadcaster Yle news say that it is not too late to act. However, it is all too easy to interpret this message of hope in an overly optimistic way. According to the climate report, current policies and funding for green innovation will not be enough to stay within 1.5 °C, or even 2 °C. Action needs to be more ambitious and taken during the current decade, as the window of opportunity is now closing. The policies of the next few years will determine the future state of our planet.
In Finland, the excuses for postponing climate action often include claims such as the claim that Finland’s emissions have no impact on a global scale. Given the current state of the world, no excuse is justifiable enough to water down climate action. Neither can action on the climate be allowed to be overshadowed by other policy issues. The fight against climate change and biodiversity loss must be promoted in parallel with them. For instance, in the government that will take office in Finland after the upcoming elections, balancing the economy cannot be done at the expense of the climate. Economic decisions must be made in a way that is sustainable for the climate and for nature.
Combatting climate change for the continuation of societies like today’s is only possible if the necessary climate action is taken now. Delaying climate action is a major threat to the planet, as it is already too late to mitigate climate change with current measures. The facts about climate change pointed out and explained by scientists must not be repeatedly ignored. The next government term will have a major impact on Finland’s climate change policy. Regardless of which parties are in power, the politics of the future requires concrete climate action, not hot air.
Chair of the climate network of SYL