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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article | 23 March 2021 | Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Helping Finland to cross the carbon neutrality finish line

Climate change is upon us and radical action is needed to stop and adapt to it

1.unsplash_jack-alexander-142193 (LIFE17 IPC/FI/000002)

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Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Climate change is upon us and radical action is needed to stop and adapt to it. The LIFE IP Canemure-Finland project is running many ambitious climate action projects to make the country carbon neutral by 2035 – 15 years ahead of EU targets.

Experts predict that climate change will cause more extreme weather events like droughts and floods in Finland. There will be less snow and ground frost in the winter. Also, the sea level and temperature in the Baltic Sea will rise, negatively impacting marine ecosystems.

But it’s not all bad news – the EU has recognised Lahti, a city 100 km north of Helsinki, as the 2021 European Green Capital. The initiative promotes and rewards the role that local authorities play in improving the environment. The EU has also embarked on ambitious policies of its own.  These include the European Green Deal to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy while restoring biodiversity and cutting pollution.

Laura Saikku from Canemure recently told us of this LIFE Integrated Project’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the nation.

Tell us about the project

We are helping to implement Finland’s climate policy. To do this, we are supporting climate action across Finland’s cities, towns and regions. Much of our focus is on municipal authorities – they have a vital role to play in reducing emissions. After all, they control energy production and infrastructure.

We are enhancing climate action in seven regions across Finland by setting up climate roadmaps so that authorities there have a clear idea of how to reach their goals. We are also running a lot of sub-projects on important issues like green mobility, renewable energy, low-emissions agriculture and sustainable urban planning. Our scientific partners are carrying out various R&D projects.

Our Canemure Expert Platform produces key information on and develops cutting edge tools to support climate change mitigation. It also assesses how different actions impact the climate and supports our seven municipalities as well as our regional cooperation groups.

Finland aims to be carbon neutral in just 14 years from now. We therefore must reduce emissions in all sectors, but especially in buildings, transport and land-use. We aim to help make this happen.

Tell us about the Hinku network

As part of our project, we are supporting the Hinku network, which brings Finnish municipalities, businesses, citizens and experts together to develop solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The municipalities involved are deeply committed and want to reduce emissions even more extensively and rapidly than EU targets require. The network is coordinated by our experts at the Finnish Environment Institute. 

What about your emissions calculation system?

I think that this system is unique, as it shows emissions from all 310 Finnish municipalities in every sector. These data are essential for managing Finland’s emission reduction measures effectively. The calculations are based on a reliable, transparent and jointly approved model.

Our latest data show that since 2005, climate emissions have decreased in nearly all Finnish municipalities. They also show that there are big differences in emissions reductions. The largest reduction recorded between 2005 and 2018 was more than 50%. However, some areas have seen their emissions rise.

The total greenhouse gas emissions of Finnish municipalities by sector in 2005–2018

Graphic (Helping Finland to cross the carbon neutrality finish line, news)_1

Overall, our findings show that fewer municipal emissions have been driven by a sharp decline in electricity emissions, new district heating reforms and more wind power. Also, emissions from oil-fired heating have dropped in all municipalities – this has had a positive impact nationally.

What are you doing in Lahti, the 2021 European Green Capital?

We are showcasing the most effective and scalable ways to cut energy consumption and CO2 coming from residential buildings. The project also has a testbed for smart energy services. Solutions are simple and cost-effective.  They include smart thermostats and other devices, energy storage solutions for wastewater heat recovery, and room heating control. The project team works closely with local companies and residents so that they too can improve their energy efficiency.

How are you spreading the project’s impact?

Several municipalities and regions have already published information on their most efficient emission reduction measures. As a result, we hope to see many more impactful projects and investments across the country.

We also plan on disseminating our finding internationally to inspire other countries to do their bit to protect our planet.

What’s coming up?

We will soon start receiving data on our many ongoing pilot projects. We hope that the results will show that our approach is effectively mitigating climate change in the involved towns and cities.

The next phase of our project will involve scaling-up these measures across the country.

Image: LIFE17 IPC/FI/000002. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.