Finland: Focus on Polttava Kysymys
Snowmen vote for a climate change law, action in March, 2011 Credit: Lasse Lähde
Friends of the Earth Finland was founded in 1996. The group campaigns on a range of issues, from climate justice to nuclear energy, water sufficiency, sustainability of plantations, ecological debt and indigenous peoples’ rights. Their local groups work on sustainable transport and food.
The campaign which has received most visibility recently is the Big Ask (or, in Finnish, Polttava Kysymys), which is calling for a law on annual greenhouse emission cuts and an aggregate target of at least 40% reduction in domestic emissions by 2020.
Laura explains a recent success the group has had in relation to this:
“In the run-up to the parliamentary election, we campaigned hard for a climate change law to be on the agenda of election candidates and parties. Finns concerned about the climate sent electronic postcards to their candidates, asking whether they support a climate change law or not. Around 800 candidates and three parliamentary parties backed the law.
“During the negotiations that followed to create a coalition government, we were present outside the negotiations every day, reminding the favourable parties about their commitment. Finally, the coalition government agreed on establishing a scientific climate change committee, research on the feasibility of a law and a proposal for the law to be made during this term of office.
“Their language could have been stronger, and the agreement falls short of explicitly stating an ambitious emission target, but, it is a huge step towards achieving the goal of the Big Ask.”
On being a member of the federation
Friends of the Earth Finland's "Human Flood" in Helsinki, September 2009.
Credit: Maan Ystävät/FoE Finland
Friends of the Earth Finland joined Friends of the Earth International in 1999.
Laura says that the international federation brings in the perspective of the global south and helps her group raise discussions about climate justice and how that should be put into action in Finland.
One such occasion when the benefits of being part of such a diverse federation can be felt is during the annual UN climate negotiations.
"During the UNFCCC climate negotiations, the FOEI network provides valuable expertise and perspectives. The feeling of being a part of a worldwide grassroots network is empowering and important; imagining all the people in the different FoE member groups standing with me really helps dealing with the tough and frustrating situations I sometimes find myself in" says Laura.
About Laura Meller
Laura Meller demonstrating for a Finnish climate change law. Credit: Pirita Särmä
Laura has been a climate coordinator for three years now, working alongside her colleague Jonas Biström.
She says her motivation to carry out her work is based on three different elements:
“First is the acute sensation that things are not right and must change. Second is the feeling that our work does make a difference – I really want to be part of the movement that brings about the change! Third come the amazing people whom I have come across thanks to FoE – both international and Finnish, within and outside FoE.