Energy & Climate Change
Rauli Partanen

Energy analyst and author Rauli Partanen has extensive experience of discussions on energy. Photo by Junna Lusa

Climate change brought Rauli Partanen into the energy discussion

Rauli Partanen, an energy analyst and author, has noticed that supporters of nuclear power always come to the fore when there is public discussion about the topic. Partanen has been talking and writing about climate and energy for years.

A variety of actions are needed to curb climate change, and we must act quickly. Energy analyst and author Rauli Partanen is of the opinion that excluding nuclear power from the selection of available means would be a step in the wrong direction. Partanen has extensive experience of discussions on energy, but he is still amazed at the strict opposition towards nuclear power in some circles.

“As the n-word was nearly prohibited from public discussion, people thought that there was more opposition towards nuclear power than there actually was. The discussion has become more relaxed in the past few years, and people whose attitude towards nuclear power is positive have dared to voice their opinion,” Partanen says.

Partanen has been at the forefront of this discussion. Fennonen’s readers may remember his cutting articles on energy and climate, which have been regularly published since 2015.

Partanen has also been writing his blog Kaiken huippu since 2010. The warm reception to the blog inspired Partanen to write his first book Suomi öljyn jälkeen (of which an English version, The World After Cheap Oil, has also been published) with Harri Paloheimo and Heikki Waris. Invitations to speak at events started to pile up after this.

Election year sharpened the pen

The parliamentary election year 2015 was especially significant for the work done by Partanen and his immediate circle. Before the election, Partanen and researcher Janne Korhonen published a pamphlet called Climate Gamble – Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future? It has been published in seven languages.

The following year, they published another more thorough non-fiction book titled Musta hevonen – ydinvoima ja ilmastonmuutos (“Black Horse – Nuclear Power and Climate Change”). Finding a publisher was not easy. From time to time, the authors felt that even though publishers were interested in nuclear power as subject matter, many of them shunned the project because the book supported it.

“I became really interested in environmental issues when one of our teachers talked about the limits of material growth.”

Partanen’s most remarkable recognition came from Energian aika (“Time for Energy”), written together with Aki Suokko. They received an award for the best Finnish science book in 2017.

Partanen has also been involved in a variety of organizations; for instance, he is one of the founding members of the Ecomodernist Society of Finland, a politically independent association that promotes social discussion about the environment based on scientific information.

The year before last, Partanen established non-profit think tank Think Atom with Ville Tulkki, a research team head at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Think Atom studies how emissions could be reduced with different types of small nuclear reactors, and popularizes its findings.

Climate change was a wake-up call

Rauli Partanen was not an environmental activist in his youth. He characterizes himself as the child of a working-class family from Nastola, Finland. His interest in energy and climate was aroused around twenty years ago. When studying marketing communications and information technology at the Lahti Polytechnic, he read a lot about all kinds of things.

“I became really interested in environmental issues when one of our teachers talked about the limits of material growth.”

After graduation, he taught IT courses and worked in other positions in the IT industry. When his first child was born in 2006, he became a stay-at-home dad and a part-time entrepreneur. He felt that his life had reached a turning point of sorts: he started to write his blog to clarify and challenge his thoughts. Where was the world going and why, and could something be done about it? These are the themes Partanen has discussed in his books and other writings for the past decade.

Partanen’s working and travelling pace is breathtaking. His athletic hobby is a necessary counterbalance for his work, but also demanding in its own right: capoeira is a martial art that was developed in Brazil. It involves acrobatics and dance-like moves.

“I think of capoeira as part of my work, because it keeps me fit to work. Without varied exercise, I would not like – nor would I be able to – sit and write for hours every day,” says Partanen, who is a trainer in a capoeira team in Lahti.

Arm-wrestling in Europe

Lately, Partanen has directed his activities more and more outside of Finland. He has extensive international networks. He works as a consulting partner for LucidCatalyst, one of the founders of which is Kirsty Gogan from London. Partanen is also a senior advisor in the non-governmental organization Energy for Humanity, which was the role model for the Finnish Ecomodernist Society.

When this interview took place, the media had just revealed that the EU would likely not count nuclear power among green energy sources in its program. Partanen has not given up hope yet, but he frets over the fact that nuclear power has been facing opposition for decade after decade in Western Europe. Germany, Austria, and the European Parliament are the key drivers of the opposition to nuclear power, while the attitude towards nuclear power is positive in Eastern Europe.

“Finland and, of the large EU member states, France in particular, are favorable to nuclear power. It’s a shame that the UK left the EU, because it was part of this group.”

Finland is not the only country where public opinion towards nuclear power has become more favorable over time. Similar development can be seen in Sweden, for example, where the discussion on nuclear power has taken new form in the past few months. A group of Swedish environmental and energy debaters established an ecomodernist association, Svenska Ekomodernisterna, late last year.

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