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Vanhanen's environmental memory
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-02-23 09:02:55
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Before becoming Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen was MP for the Uusimaa area and had strongly voiced his opposition to the creation of a fifth nuclear plant often talking about the environment’s destruction and proposing alternative ways for energy. It seems that is true what they say, power does change people.

So now the very same person who showed skepticism over a nuclear plant issue has expressed his concerns about the German EU presidency lobbying for carbon emission cuts of 20% considering them very high. He is seemingly bending to the lobbying paper industrialists and used the childish excuse that this cut could mean the loss of up to 60,000 jobs in Finland.

Greenpeace was the first to react describing Matti Vanhanen’s statement and argument as populist scare-mongering and, adopting a language the Finnish government can understand, the NGO pointed out that rejecting the proposal would make the industry less able to cope with future climate change policies and lead to incorrect investments. Oddly Finland has found allies with the same excuses in Poland and Hungary.

Let’s go back to the 60,000 jobs. In the last five years more than 140,000 jobs have been lost with the excuses of high competition, high cost and low profits. The ugly face of capitalism is lower the costs and increase the short-term profits, plus ignoring the damage. Humanity has practiced this for centuries; the results are something we see now and our kids will have to deal with. Uncontrollable production and profit has resulted in environmental destruction and natural catastrophes, like the tsunamis as the most recent example, it has led even to wars.

For those of us living in Finland, this has been the first, after a long time, we did not have a White Christmas. According to the scientists it was the highest temperature for the season for the last fifty years, so Finland has already started feeling the climate change and, oddly enough for a mainly agricultural country, everybody seems to worry about the paper industry.

Everybody seems to ignore the farmers, but the farmers don’t lobby as strongly. It would have been a bit different if the prime minister had remembered the roots of the Keskusta party as an Agrarian party, whose one principium was the protection of the environment. Coincidentally, the Agrarian Party, later Keskusta, was one of the first European political parties to mention environmental issues in its prime articles.

However, as I said earlier, power brings a loss of memory – however , one thing Vanhanen didn't forget is that elections are coming. These are critical elections where, for the first time, Mr. Vanhanen leads the party after his ‘coincidental’ climb into the Prime Minister’s seat. In this election there is a sort of balance between the two main players - after all, they’ve been cooperating for so long in the same government they cannot really blame each other for anything.

Well, health was Keksusta’s case, education was the SDP’s case, so what is left? The chronic problem of unemployment. The usual solution, till now, was for the Social Democrats to blame the Centre Party, the Centre Party to blame the Social Democrats, and then a good chance to blame somebody else. Responsible for unemployment is now being blamed upon the environment and, in extent, the bad EU that forces all these bad rules upon us!

In this case, the obligation of every government for the good of the people is dual: the first is to protect the environment and, second, to protect the people from unemployment. The best way to do these, instead of pointing fingers and blaming environmental measures, is to find solutions because that’s why they were elected there and that’s the reason they are asking for the people’s vote. But as I said in the beginning, power changes people, it makes them forget, especially Prime Ministers.

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