A total of 130 municipalities have announced their bid to achieve carbon neutrality, which means they are prepared to limit their CO2 emissions to the amount absorbed by carbon sinks such as forests. More than 80 municipalities are aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 at the latest, five years ahead of the national 2035 target.
For example, Joensuu and Lahti have set a target for 2025. The city of Northern Ostrobothnia, with a population of almost 10,000, has received global attention for achieving the target in 2020.
“If the municipalities meet their goals, it would be of great importance for Finland’s national goal”, Tatu Leinonen, an expert in climate and natural solutions at Sitra, commented To YLE.
In its report, Sitra estimates that municipalities should reduce their CO2 emissions by 20 million tonnes, which would mean a 50% drop from the 2018 level and more than 50% of the 35 million tonnes of emissions would be cuts targeted by the central government.
Municipalities produce well over half of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions. Municipal emissions include emissions from transport, energy production or business or household activities at the municipal border.
Heating and transport are the two largest sources of emissions in municipalities. Although emissions from heating have been significantly reduced through decisions such as the phasing out of coal and peat, emissions from transport are a greater challenge both locally and nationally. In its report, Sitra pointed out that municipal transport emissions decreased by a maximum of seven per cent between 2005 and 2018.
Jari LeinonenThe Head of Environmental Affairs of the City of Joensuu told YLE that Joensuu presented its climate goals already in 2014, which made it a pioneer in Europe as well.
The city aims to reduce its emissions by 60 percent while its large forest areas can sequester the remaining emissions. According to the public broadcaster, much remains to be done, as the city is only halfway to achieving the goal.
However, he is confident and refers to the phasing out of oil and peat in district heating production and the various solutions put forward to improve energy efficiency.
“We have recovered the heat from the wastewater, improved the energy efficiency of the renovations, built a solar power plant on the roof of the new kindergarten, installed temperature limiters for swimming pool showers,” he listed.
Only 64,309 municipalities have adopted a biodiversity target, and only 26 of them have set concrete measures to achieve the target, according to the study.
“Our entire society has less experience of how nature should be taken into account and how it should be addressed in decision-making,” Sitran Leinonen said.
At the forefront is Pirkanmaa, where work is underway, which is the first biodiversity program covering the entire region. The program ensures that more than 300 endangered species and more than 100 habitats in the area are taken into account in zoning and construction.
The research carried out by Sitowinen is based on the strategies and action plans on the websites of Finnish municipalities.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page