For Palladium magazine, RePlanet's Tea Törmänen wrote a piece, with Marco Visscher, on how green activists like herself have changed the Green Party's position on nuclear energy. The landmark shift may hold the key to a more pragmatic way for Europe to deal with climate change and the energy crisis.
The Olkiluoto nuclear power plant provides nearly a third of Finland's electricity. (Photo: TVO)
When the Finnish Green Party, known as Vihreät, came together for its annual assembly in 2022, few people anticipated anything unusual. On the morning of May 21st, hundreds of people assembled at the local sports arena in Joensuu, a small town in eastern Finland. Casually dressed party members chattered in small groups, sipping coffee while munching on vegan cinnamon buns.
I was one of the few people in the room who understood the significance of the meeting we were about to attend.
When I woke up that day, I already knew this was going to be a historic event. Vihreät, the first green party in the world to abort its stance against nuclear power, was about to complete its pro-nuclear pivot by becoming an active supporter. Despite the controversy, they were about to adopt official statements accepting nuclear energy as a crucial part of the plan to tackle climate change.
For me, it was a moment long overdue. I had learned both politics and environmentalism at my mother’s knee. A longtime donor to the WWF and other environmental organizations, she was active in the centrist Coalition Party, which has historically been one of the most pro-nuclear parties in Finland. I had followed in her footsteps. After a stint as leader of Finland’s Liberal Party and several years chairing Suomen Ekomodernistit—the Ecomodernist Society of Finland—I formally joined the Greens in 2019.
Over 400 selected members with a right to vote had gathered in the annual assembly. For the party, this is the most important event of the year, with the possible exception of elections. It’s a weekend of lively political debate during which members vote on important changes to the party line.