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Public acceptance?


The nuclear industry likes to claim that the decision to build a new nuclear reactor to Finland (after more than 20 years) has been accepted by the Finnish public. But what is the whole story?

The public opinions towards nuclear in Finland have been measured regularly since 1983. In the independent polls done regularly from 1983 to 2002, the opposition towards nuclear was always greater than the support for it, even after the political decision on expanding the nuclear production (made in May 2002). In autumn 2002 50 % of the people were still against new nuclear while 34 % supported it.

In a poll made in autumn 2003 the support for new nuclear was for the first time bigger than the opposition. When asked “Building a new nuclear power plant is worthy of support”, 47 % agreed fully or partially while 33 % disagreed fully or partially.

However, it is no wonder if the Finns are turning more positive towards nuclear. Since the political decision in 2002, nuclear has been presented only in a positive light in the media. The case (FIN 5) has been presented as a project with no risks or negative impacts what so ever. It is a positive, national project that brings jobs and allegedly reduces Finland’s CO2 emissions. Writing critical stories about nuclear seems to be considered unpatriotic.

What is also essential to understand is that the new nuclear power plant is an essential part of Finnish climate policy. Therefore opposing the planned nuclear power plant is considered opposing the Finnish climate strategy.

Finland is a young country with young culture of civil society. When a political decision is made, it is considered unchangeable. This is why people feel that they “just have to accept” the decision on new nuclear, especially as it is an essential part of the Finnish climate strategy. However “accepting the reality” doesn’t mean that people would like nuclear or want to have more of it.

How did it happen? Learn more of how the idea of building more nuclear was sold to Finns >>