Healthy Finland Survey: Concern about climate change is common, and many make sustainable choices in their everyday lives

Publication date 22 Nov 2023

Concerns about climate change are common, especially among young women. 46% of women aged 20-39 are very or extremely concerned about climate change. Many adults are also prepared to act to mitigate climate change, with measures  such as saving energy, eating a plant-based diet and buying less goods.

The results are revealed by THL’s Healthy Finland Survey, which was carried out in autumn 2022 and spring 2023. For the first time ever, THL conduced a national survey on concerns about climate change and climate actions. The research subjects were between the ages of 20 and 74.

Of all the people who responded to the survey, 38% of women and 26% of men reported that they were very or extremely concerned about climate change. Only 7% of respondents were not at all concerned about climate change. 

Concern is most common among women with a high level of education, of whom half are concerned about climate change.

"Climate concern can also affect mental health and young people's future prospects. However, more research is needed on this. There should be more extensive societal discussion on climate concern and the means to address this," says Research Professor Timo Partonen.

Concern about climate change can be channelled into sustainable everyday choices

Many respondents said that they make choices in everyday life that promote climate change mitigation. Climate action was reported across age and gender boundaries. 

Approximately 70% said they were making an effort to combat climate change by reducing the purchase of goods and saving energy. In addition, 34% had cut down on driving or purchased a car that consumed less fossil fuel.

"Everyone can reduce their carbon footprint by making sustainable choices in everyday life. Take steps to mitigate climate change can also help reduce concern and help maintain hope. For this reason, it is also important to ensure the possibility of sustainable choices for those with a low socio-economic status," says Chief Physician Mikaela Grotenfelt-Enegren.

Food choices make a difference in combating climate change

46% of women and 31% of men had changed their diet so it was more plant-based in order to combat climate change.

"Even small changes in everyday life are important if a large part of the population takes part. For example, when making a macaroni casserole, you can replace some of the meat with a vegetable protein source," says Senior Researcher Laura Sares-Jäske.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet promotes both environmental and human health and wellbeing.

Some people feel uncertain about what foods are environmentally friendly. This may make it more difficult to make changes in one’s diet, even if a person wants to make changes. The survey found that around 23 per cent feel uncertain about this matter. There is still a need for clear information on the topic.

An environmentally friendly diet can be put together in many ways, emphasising one's own preferences. Plant products such as whole grain cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and berries, root vegetables, as well as sustainably caught and farmed fish are sound choices with regard to health and the environment.

"It is good that our society understands the need for climate change mitigation and lifestyle changes that promote sustainability. It is also important that the Government Programme commits to the objectives for reducing emissions laid down in the Climate Act. This helps maintain hope in our society," continues Mikaela Grotenfelt-Enegren.

Results of the Healthy Finland Survey will be widely reported during the autumn

A total of 61,000 randomly selected persons aged 20 and over from different parts of Finland were invited to the questionnaire section of the survey. The survey now included a section on sustainability for the first time. The 14,000 people aged 20-74 invited to take part in the survey were asked about sustainability. Of them, 5,580 (40%) responded to the questions. The research sample was formed so that the results can be generalised throughout Finland.

Planetary health and wellbeing recognises that humans are part of nature as a whole

Planetary health and welfare means that the health and welfare of humans and other natural factors depend on one another:

  • Climate change, biodiversity loss and overconsumption of natural resources affect people's health and wellbeing everywhere 
  • the actions of people and societies will influence the state of the planet and its functions in the future.

In its goals for influencing, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare proposes that the promotion of planetary health and wellbeing be put at the heart of decision-making.

THL goals for influencing 


Climate change, online report, Results of the Healthy Finland Survey (in Finnish)

Sustainable nutrition, online report, results of the Healthy Finland Survey  (in Finnish)

Healthy Finland online reports (in Finnish)

Further information:

Mikaela Grotenfelt-Enegren
Chief Physician
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
Tel. +358 29 524 8418
[email protected]

Timo Partonen
Research Professor
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)
Tel. +358 29 524 8859
[email protected]

Laura Sares-Jäske
Senior Researcher
tel. +358 (0)29 524 7238
[email protected]

Healthy Finland Survey

Results of the Healthy Finland Survey 

Previously on this survey:

Healthy Finland survey: More than half of people aged 65–74 feel fully able to work – even so, only a small proportion is in paid employment. THL press release, 7 November 2023

Healthy Finland survey: Only less than half of adults engage in enough physical activity, staying up late and insufficient sleep have become more common. THL press release, 26 October 2023

Healthy Finland survey: One in five adults have had to compromise on food, medicines or doctor’s appointments because of lack of money. THL press release, 5 October 2023

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