Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Parliament Building, demanding political action to stop global warming in Helsinki on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today / Click to view gallery.
On Wednesday afternoon, the steps of the Finnish Parliament Building were occupied by hundreds of concerned citizens and activists from a coalition of climate-watch organizations.
While the giant sheets called for “Fossil Free Finland,” “Our Climate Our Future” and “Limit the Logging“ the one hoisted on top of the building’s gigantic pillars was the most attention-grabbing. “Climate Action Now,” it said.
That’s also where eight Greenpeace activists had decided to spend their afternoon after climbing up the columns with the aid of ropes and professional climbing tools and hoisting the banner there.
The peaceful protest itself would have attracted two police patrol cars at the most, but now due to Greenpeace’s stunt, the area was swarming with members of the law enforcement. The Parliament Building’s doors were locked, and the building was heavily guarded.
The military-like police presence, however, didn’t seem to bother the concerned activists much.
“What do we want?! Climate Action!” activists chanted in symphony demanding that politicians need to act now and address the climate crisis. Next parliamentary elections in Finland are due on April 14, 2019, and the protestors were making it clear that climate problems are a big concern.
Demonstrators demanded action from politicians to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, make Finland fossil- free by 2035, maintain carbon sink by not increasing logging at all and abandon all fossil fuel subsidies immediately. Protestors, some dancing and singing as the children of Mother Earth, agreed in unison that Finland needs to lead environmentally and set an example as a first welfare state to break away from fossil fuels.
Tove Selin, a citizen activist participating in the demonstration, clearly pointed out that global warming is a serious problem. “This is not an issue of future for Finland. Climate change is happening as we speak!” she exclaimed. “What we have is a climate emergency. Now it is a must!”
Juha Penttilä, another climate activist, hoped that Wednesday´s demonstration would raise climate issues at the political level. His message was clear: “Finland should be fossil-free by 2035, and fossil subsidies need to be phased out immediately.”
He also added that the amount of logging should not be increased at all to maintain sufficient carbon sink and that Finland should play an active role in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
After the protest, which lasted about two hours, the police surrounded the climbers at the columns and patiently waited for them to come down, one by one.
Then they were taken away for disturbing the public peace.