Jussi-Pekka Teini walks outdoors past a snowy bed of reeds.
2023 is the Year of the Green Transition at TEK. Our theme articles are marked with the leaf logo.

Green transition is a driver of growth for Finland

Blog post

A just green transition is inclusive, knowledge-based and supports good working life.

TEK is involved in Just Transition Now! ("Oikeudenmukainen siirtymä – nyt!"), a campaign that calls on the next government to commit to a green transition that is just for all people. The campaign is coordinated by corporate responsibility watchdog Finnwatch and it currently involves 75 organizations in addition to TEK. More than 200 parliamentary candidates have already signed the principles of the campaign. These signatories represent all the parties in parliament elected in the last election as well as several small parties.

It often seems that the demand for a just green transition is simply a pretext for opposing the green transition altogether. The parties that do so want to maintain the status quo and are opposed to change. That is not the case in this campaign. 

Of the ten principles of the campaign, the very first one demands that global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees and biodiversity loss is stopped. The underlying idea of the campaign is, in fact, that the green transition is a vital necessity that cannot be compromised. However, the campaign also demands that the transition is carried out systematically while considering what is just and fair. In practice, this could mean offering reskilling opportunities to those who need to find new jobs as their old ones disappear due to the green transition. A just transition guarantees that the green transition has the strong support of the public.

Talent shortage threatens to become biggest bottleneck in the green transition.
- Jussi-Pekka Teini

The campaign has ten principles, three of which are especially important for TEK. They are a knowledge-based approach, inclusion and decent work.

Knowledge-based approach refers to decision-makers relying on the best scientific research available when implementing green transition measures. A knowledge-based approach is important to ensure that the green transition is cost-effective and socially acceptable. We must fight the climate crisis and prevent biodiversity loss by making the most of the euros reserved for combating these crises. For example, our future energy system will inevitably be built partly around pure hydrogen, but due to inefficient conversion processes, hydrogen is feasible only in applications that cannot be electrified directly. The market economy is an important tool for finding the most cost-effective solution.

The people behind the technology, our members, know which technological solutions reduce emissions and negative biodiversity impacts effectively and know the smartest way to plan and carry out the transition. For example, small modular reactors could provide an extremely low-emission district heating method with minimal impact on biodiversity.

Expertise in technology should be utilized extensively in the transition to ensure the technical feasibility of the solutions. Expertise in other sectors is naturally also important: for example, the behavioural sciences help design the solutions to be socially acceptable.

Inclusion also ensures social acceptance of the green transition. The principle of inclusion means that individuals and, say, social partners are both involved in decision-making concerning climate and biodiversity actions.

Inclusion also guarantees high-quality, comprehensive planning. For example, the low-carbon roadmaps drawn up for industry in this term of government are no doubt useful, but the process would have been even more valuable had the employee organizations, such as TEK, been included in the planning. While the roadmaps now only look at what is technologically feasible to transition to a low-carbon society, the employee organizations would have also addressed issues of competence and labour during the preparations. The talent shortage now threatens to become the biggest bottleneck in the green transition and there is an even more acute need to address the issue thoroughly.

Decent work during the transition refers to the high quality of the created jobs and the possibility of upskilling if the new green transition jobs require it. TEK is familiar with the skills and competence needs of engineers in the green transition both in terms of a low-carbon society and the circular economy. Although the core competence of engineers will continue to be based on a solid foundation in mathematics and science, new competence needs will also emerge and their development needs support. These include interdisciplinary cooperation skills, continuous learning skills and stronger systems thinking skills.

TEK participates in a campaign driving a just green transition