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eollisuuden energiatuotannon asiantuntija Kati Takala (vas.) ja Energiateollisuuden edunvalvonnasta vastaava johtaja Joona Turtiainen ovat iloisia siitä, että ydinvoiman suosio on kasvanut vuosi vuodelta.

Kati Takala, energy production specialist at Finnish Energy (on the left) and Joona Turtiainen, director of advocacy at Finnish Energy, are happy about the fact that the popularity of nuclear power has increased year by year. Photos by Amanda Aho

The opinions are clear: no to global warming, yes to nuclear power

A large part of people in Finland see the emission-free nuclear power as an important tool in combating the warming of the climate. Young people and adults with higher education have the most positive attitudes toward nuclear power.

Nuclear power is more popular than ever in Finland. According to the “Opinions on Nuclear Power” survey carried out by Finnish Energy and the Kantar TNS survey company, slightly less than half (49%) of the people in Finland have a fully or at least mainly positive view on nuclear power.

“Nuclear power and other emission-free forms of energy are popular in Finland. Over the past 15 years, awareness of global warming and the necessity of mitigating it has risen to a very high level,” says Kati Takala, energy production specialist at Finnish Energy.

Twenty years ago, only one person in three felt this way about nuclear power. In the results of the annual survey, the popularity of nuclear power has grown from year to year. At the same time, the group of those who oppose nuclear power has become smaller. In the 2021 survey, only one respondent in six had a fully or mainly negative view on nuclear power.

“The acceptability of nuclear power has become established. The change is most apparent in the young age groups,” says Joona Turtiainen, director of advocacy at Finnish Energy.

Development of support for nuclear energy

Young people have the most positive views on nuclear power

Kati Takala is happy about young people’s increasingly positive attitude toward nuclear power.

“It is a cliché, but it is for the young that we are building a better tomorrow,” she says.

In the survey by Finnish Energy and Kantar, 51% of the respondents approved nuclear power as a means to combat climate change. In the age group of those under 25, even more people, 59%, thought this way. In the group of young adults, aged 25–34, 57% shared this view.

“Young people are very aware of climate issues. They find out about things and trust science in their opinions,” Takala says.

Joona Turtiainen
According to Joona Turtiainen from Finnish Energy, especially young people and young adults can appreciate the importance of nuclear power as an emission-free form of energy.

Gender and status affect attitudes toward nuclear power in Finland

Overall, the positive attitude toward nuclear power among people in Finland extends across different groups of people both horizontally and vertically.  Still, there are differences. For example, women have clearly more reservations about nuclear power than men. Only 31% of women have a positive view on nuclear power, while 66% of men who responded to the survey are in favor of nuclear power.

“The difference is interesting, as both men and women have access to the same facts. It seems that there are differences in the values and emotions behind the attitudes,” Turtiainen says.

“The people in Finland trust science, officials and the media.”

Socioeconomic status also has a small effect on attitudes toward nuclear power. Among workers, 48% of respondents had a positive view on nuclear power, whereas for people in a managerial position the corresponding figure was 56%.

“In summary, the higher education people have, the more positive their attitude toward nuclear power is likely to be,” Takala says.

Nuclear power is seen as a safe form of energy

The established popularity of nuclear power reflects the fact that people in Finland see nuclear power as an important emission-free form of energy. The popularity also indicates that nuclear power is considered safe.

“Nuclear power is viewed favorably especially by young people whose age group did not grow up in the world that followed the Chernobyl accident. They are sufficiently aware to understand that the risks of nuclear power are very small, and as the climate becomes warmer, they know how to weigh its significance as an emission-free form of production,” Turtiainen says.

In the long term, the popularity of nuclear power momentarily decreased after the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and the Fukushima accident caused by a tsunami in 2011. In both cases, the confidence of the people in Finland in this form of energy was restored within three years.

“The people in Finland trust science, officials and the media. When matters are communicated openly and good reasons are given, people are able to recognize isolated cases and have a pragmatic approach,” Turtiainen says.

 

Article updated 11.10.2021 (the year of Fukushima accident).