Teen protesters in Helsinki demand climate action

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A protester shouts slogans as pupils gather in front of the Reichstag to demand more active government climate policies on December 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Inspired by 16 year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for future campaign, youth in various countries, including Finland, have been striking to demand more climate action from politicians and businesses. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A group of upper secondary school students, mainly from Swedish-speaking schools in the Helsinki region gathered on the steps of the Finnish parliament Friday to call for action to combat climate change.

“Take action!” and “Save the planet!” read some of the placards on display.

The young adults launched the protest to call for politicians and business leaders to make environmentally-friendly choices.

Axel Broman from the Grankulla Gymnasium in Kauniainen, Espoo said that more decisions need to take the climate into account.

“It’s true that decision-makers are doing something about it, but more needs to be done. These decisions need to be made now, we can’t wait any longer. We need to be braver. And this demonstration shows that we too want to make difficult decisions,” he said, adding that young people are pioneers in this regard.

“This is our future so sometimes we care more than the adults themselves,” he charged.

Calls for climate tax, change in habits
“I believe that we should invest more in renewable energy and introduce new laws. We should introduce a climate tax for items that generate a lot of carbon dioxide emissions,” one protester said. (iStock)

Veronica Winqvist of Gymnasiet Lärkan in Helsinki agreed that leaders are not doing enough.

“I believe that we should invest more in renewable energy and introduce new laws. We should introduce a climate tax for items that generate a lot of carbon dioxide emissions,” she declared.

“I think that decision-makers haven’t done enough about this. There is a lot that still needs to be done and that’s why we are here,” said Veronica’s schoolmate Marcus Schramko.

Meanwhile Alvar Winqvist of the same school said that he was worried about climate change.

“Some work has been done to curb climate change but it hasn’t been enough. It [warming of the climate] should be limited to 1.5 degrees,” he noted.

“One of the most effective methods would be to have some kind of emissions levy so we could really tax the things that pollute. This would be a natural way to ensure the entire society is more climate friendly,” he added.

The young protesters also presented a joint list of demands with questions that lawmakers had the opportunity to answer.

“We still have to live here for another 50 years”

Livia Wikström and Jenina Nyström of Töölö Gymnasium held up signs reminding onlookers that young people’s future is at stake.

Both said there was no question that they would join the demonstration.

“We all need to do something otherwise nothing will happen. Soon it will be too late. It’s now or never,” Wikström said.

“If we do nothing then nothing will change. We still have to live here for another 50 years or more. Maybe we can reduce airline travel, we can cycle instead of driving, or we can eat less meat and buy recycled clothing.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian Chamber of Commerce backs carbon pricing, but not for the North, CBC News

Finland: Finland ninth, Sweden first in EU climate efforts: enviro group, YLE News

Norway: Norway ramps up oil and gas production in Arctic despite looming climate crisis, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Moscow tries to adapt to a fast-warming Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Too young to vote, Swedish student Greta Thunberg goes on strike for climate action, Radio Sweden

United States: New study predicts ‘radical re-shaping’ of Arctic landscape by 2100, CBC News

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