For the first time, we can get systematic information on how emissions are distributed between households and the municipal organization within the municipality,” says. Santtu Karhinensenior researcher at the Finnish Environmental Center.
According to new emission calculations, the combined consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions of Finnish municipalities are approximately 57.4 MtCO2e. Of these municipal emissions, 83 percent comes from household consumption, 11 percent from municipal purchases and the remaining 6 percent from investments.
Housing accounts for 25 percent of household consumption emissions, food consumption 23 percent, transport 22 percent, other goods 16 percent and other services 14 percent.
Emissions from municipal procurements are mainly generated from the procurement of services, which account for 60 percent of all emissions from municipal procurements. Construction-related emissions are emphasized in investments. There is significant regional variation in shares.
Geographically, there are significant differences in consumption-based emissions
Kainuu has regionally the highest emissions based on combined consumption per inhabitant. More intensive construction in Uusimaa than in the rest of the country can be seen as an increase in investment emissions. Central Finland and Pirkanmaa have the lowest consumption-based household emissions.
In the northern regions of Kainuu, Lapland and North Ostrobothnia, the emissions of apartments are higher than average, which is partly due to the climatic conditions. In addition to the need for heat, fuel distribution for district heating, among other things, plays a significant role in housing emissions.
Geographical features and the availability of public transport largely determine traffic emissions. For this reason, emissions from passenger car traffic are particularly strong in rural and urban districts compared to urban districts.
However, emissions from transport services (including air travel) are on average higher in urban municipalities.
In urban municipalities, food consumption is more focused on plant-based products than in rural and semi-urban municipalities. Consequently, the emissions from food consumption are the lowest in urban municipalities.
On the other hand, restaurant services are used more often in cities than in sparsely populated areas, which evens out the differences between different types of areas in the emissions of food consumption. For other goods and services, such as clothing, healthcare services, and cultural and leisure services, consumption emissions are very similar across regions.
“However, when interpreting the results, it must be taken into account that one area type includes municipalities that differ from each other, for example in terms of their demographic and geographical characteristics, which is reflected in the differences between the municipalities,” says Karhinen.
About half of Finnish household emissions are directed abroad
Emissions based on municipal consumption also include emissions from the consumption of imported goods. The results therefore show the climate emissions caused by our consumption, which extend beyond the municipal borders; most importantly, including emissions from production outside Finland.
“That’s why Finns can’t transfer responsibility for climate work to other countries. About half of Finnish households’ climate emissions are outsourced abroad, which is why ambitious climate work should aim to reduce emissions worldwide,” says Karhinen.
The public sector and companies play an important role in reducing consumption-based emissions
In Karhinen’s opinion, it is important to understand that reducing consumption-based emissions is a joint effort of the public sector, companies and households. The public sector develops the operating environment for companies and households, within which emissions can be reduced.
For example, the district heating fuel choices of a municipality or region are reflected in the production of the companies operating in the region and thereby also in the emissions of the consumers of the products, i.e. the residents.
Community structure, the promotion of walking and cycling, and the development of public transport can influence the transport choices of the municipality’s residents. It is important for residents to demand an operating environment that supports reducing the carbon footprint of consumption.
“The main purpose of the calculation is to show that the region’s climate emissions are the sum of its actors. The calculations also show that households need the support of companies and municipalities to reduce emissions from consumption. With the help of information, measures can be planned and targeted effectively,” says Karhinen.
The results complement the emission information service of municipalities and regions
The calculation of consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions complements the emission information service for municipalities and regions maintained by the Finnish Environment Agency since 2020. The calculation was carried out as part of the Towards carbon-neutral municipalities and regions (Canemure) project.
The accounting principles differ significantly from the principles of more traditional usage-based accounting principles. In the calculation of use-based emissions, the starting point is the emissions generated in a certain geographical area. In contrast, the consumption-based approach looks at emissions from the production of the commodity consumed in the municipality, regardless of the region in which it was produced.
For example, emissions from agricultural production are distributed to municipalities based on where the goods produced by agricultural operators are consumed. Correspondingly, emissions from the manufacture of imported goods are assigned to the municipality where the imported goods are acquired and consumed.
The calculations are based on 2015 data. In the next calculation update, the Finnish Environment Agency uses data from 2019.
“Since 2015, especially in housing and traffic emissions, there has been a very positive development, as heating solutions for buildings and driving forces for passenger cars have continued to move in the direction of low emissions. It is also interesting to see in which direction the emission development is going in terms of foodstuffs and other goods and services”, says Karhinen.
Source: Finnish Environmental Center (Syke)
Source: The Nordic Page