Finland’s Green Party moved European environmental policy discussions into a new direction this week when it enthusiastically voted to endorse pro-nuclear power policies at its national meeting.
The party’s manifesto was updated to show that it now considers nuclear power to be “sustainable energy.” The party also calls for changes to Finland’s energy laws to make it easier for small modular reactors (SMRs) to be approved.
The change is the first such action taken by any Green Party in the world.
The vote was part of the party’s conference that included 400 members representing local chapters and other groups from all over Finland. The party currently holds 20 seats in the national parliament and is part of the nation’s foreign ministry and the ministry of environment and climate.
In addition to the significant shift for the Greens, the Finland chapter of the international group started by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future, has moved in a nuclear-friendly direction.
It released a statement that disavows the anti-nuclear position statements of Thunberg and other climate activists. The statement provided that opposition to nuclear power only complicates the problems involved with addressing climate change. It said that nuclear power is essential to reducing global warming in any possible scenario.
It now appears that the Finnish Green Party understands that the environmentalism of the 1970s that focused on opposing nuclear power is not compatible with dealing with what has since come to be seen as a climate crisis.
Whether a person believes that the climate crisis exists as it is described, it is important to note that the Finnish group at least now sees that some trade-offs are unavoidable. The group has broken away from the larger group of fundamentalists who seem to believe that eradication of modern society is the only path forward.
The latest polling conducted in Finland shows that a significant majority of the nation’s citizens support nuclear power. A 2021 poll indicates 74% back policies promoting nuclear power, with 18% opposed. The public position has seen a major shift since 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster when only 42% of Finns supported nuclear power.
European sentiment toward nuclear technology is also likely to see a positive trend as nations move to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels after its invasion of Ukraine.