The average global temperature may rise 4 degrees by the end of the century, if greenhouse gas emissions keep growing at current rate. In Finland, it would bring about a 6-degree temperature rise by 2100. If this is the case, global warming will threaten Finland’s prosperity, food provision and services and may cause social unrest, says a report produced by The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and Gaia Consulting.
“We want to start a discussion on what it takes to prevent dangerous climate change and to adjust to the change that is already taking place. This is just one possible future scenario, in which crucial agreements on cutting greenhouse gas emissions are not achieved in the coming decades. We do, however, have a good chance to prevent this worst case scenario,” says Vesa-Matti Lahti, Senior Lead of sustainable well-being research at Sitra.
The report looks at Christmas 2080 in Finland: rain, stormy seas, darkness and a mere memory of white Christmases. Winter sports have become impossible in Southern Finland. Storms and floods are common, and the amount of rain has increased drastically.
The price of food, energy and water has multiplied, and the poor cannot afford a healthy and balanced diet. Many people grow their own food.
Inequality has increased. Wealthy Finns live in their own, protected neighborhoods, while the poor live in unsafe areas with weak public transportation. While social classes drift further apart, the amount of climate refugees grows and public services deteriorate. Climate change creates strife and protests.
How will Finland pull through? According to the report, our future lies in natural resources and know-how. Finland, like other countries, will need to work hard on preventing the worst-case scenario that climate change can bring about. It will require expensive investments but without them, we will pay an even higher price. The good news is that we already have the technology. We just need to use it.
“The race for natural resources will accelerate, and therein lies the key for Finland’s success: our forests, minerals and fresh water. High education, stable society and good infrastructure further improve our chances of success. In addition to traditional strengths, we need to be able to understand multidisciplinary problems and develop bold innovations,” says CEO Juha Vanhanen from Gaia Consulting.
The report concentrates on the consequences of the worst-case scenario presented by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was produced by a group of experts from Sitra and Gaia Consulting and deals with issues that the group finds most important. It does not aim to provide a comprehensive picture of the future.