The energy company Fortum’s stalling of climate action is shameful to Finland. With its majority ownership of Fortum, the Finnish state has the greatest responsibility for the company’s actions. The Fortum leadership should not be dischanged from responsibility at the company general meeting today.

Through its ownership of Uniper, Fortum is one of the worst polluters in Europe. Its coal plant Maasvlakte 3 was opened in the Netherlands in 2016, after the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord. The Netherlands has since decided to ban coal plants by 2030 – and through Uniper, Fortum is now suing the country for its lost profits.

The state of Finland is hypocritical. We have a comparable law to ban coal, but nevertheless Finland as Fortum’s biggest shareholder is giving its blessing to the lawsuit.

On top of it all, Fortum just last year opened a new coal plant in Germany, Datteln4, through Uniper.

When it comes to the climate, Fortum wants to have its cake and eat it too: to benefit from fossil fuels and from increasing their use, meanwhile speaking in beautiful terms about the green energy of the future.

In today’s demonstration by Extinction Rebellion Finland, activists dressed in business attire spread water dyed green on the walls and windows of the Fortum head offices. In this carnevalistic demonstration they showed what Fortum’s rhetoric around the climate are compared to the company’s actions: pure greenwashing, green in lip service only.

“I am totally fed up with Fortum’s greenwashing and the state wrangling their hands around corporate governance. Emissions have to go down now. It means closing down power plants, not dreaming about a hydrogen economy. Also, suing the Netherlands on the basis of the Enerfy Charter Treaty for banning coal is the most outrageous act of hindering climate policy in a while”, says one of the demonstrators, Outi Leskinen.

“I think it’s imporant to make Fortum’s greenwashing visible. The company’s slogan ‘join the change’, and its rhetoric highlighting being green, are in grotesque conflict with opening new coal plants and suing the Netherlands. The Finnish government’s ambitious climate policy is not credible, if a state-owned corporation keeps on polluting during this era of climate crisis”, says Jenni Meinilä from Extinction Rebellion Finland.

Our planet is on its way to three degrees celsius warming compared to preindustrial time. This scenario would a catastrope for the humankind. To lower greenhouse gas emissions, their sources have to be shut down. In the case of Fortum, it means first closing down coal plants and quitting investing in fossil gas, then closing down fossil gas plants.

Renewable energy sources are a good thing, but they are supposed to enable running down fossil energy, not be an addition to it. Right now Fortum is saying they believe a hydrogen revolution will happen in 10 years, but the technology for this is still a dream. Meanwhile, here in the real world Fortum is investing heavily in fossil gas, and dragging out the closing down of coal plants.

If energy companies cannot work in an ecological way, they have to admit it honestly, so that society can react accordingly. Globally, economic resources have to be invested in ecological reconstruction, not in the crumbling fossil fuel structures. We simply cannot afford to pay reimbursements to large companies, that cynically invest in fossil energy this well into the 21st century.

Extinction Rebellion, known in Finland as Elokapina, is an international movement which uses non-violent civil disobedience in order to halt the progression of the sixth mass extinction and to minimize the risk of social collapse caused by the climate and environmental crisis.

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Pictures from the action can be downloaded at:

CC BY license, mention: “Bambi Beibi / Elokapina - Extinction Rebellion Finland”.