Project description and objectives
The municipalities involved in the Carbon Neutral Municipalities project (HINKU project) are committed to act as laboratories by working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more extensively and rapidly than EU targets and schedules would require. The project aims to create a win-win situation based on solutions that have economic and social benefits as well as environmental advantages.
The municipal authorities, business representatives, local residents, research institutes and experts work together to devise and tailor new cost-effective solutions to reduce emissions, especially in the contexts of transportation, housing and food. Information about the consequent new tools and ideas are publicised in Finland and internationally.
As the project was launched in 2008, five municipalities were committed to an 80 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the level of 2007 by 2030. The five municipalities are Kuhmoinen, Mynämäki, Padasjoki, Parikkala and Uusikaupunki. In 2011 six other municipalities joined the project as partners. To begin with, the municipalities, including Asikkala, Ii, Laitila, Masku, Nousiainen and Rautjärvi, get acquainted to climate change mitigation possibilities together with the original five municipalities and the Finnish Environment Institute as well as start concrete actions to cut their emissions.
The project also aims to activate markets in Finland and create localised shop windows for marketing Finnish climate-friendly technologies to the world.
Information on experiences gained during the project, also including barriers and problems, will be compiled to provide a useful resource for other municipalities, and to facilitate the development of related legislation and subsidy schemes.
The Carbon Neutral Municipalities project was launched in June 2008 and will run to December 2012 with the current funding from The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, a group of partners, and the Finnish Environment Institute.
The emission reduction activities are specifically related to energy saving, improved energy efficiency and renewable energy production. Buildings, land use, energy production, transport and mobility, agriculture and foodstuff, as well as other consumption that indirectly produces greenhouse gas emissions are the sectors in focus.
The most relevant operations of municipalities are land use management, building and maintenance of municipal properties, energy production, public procurement, and other public services. The activities of local businesses are related to energy and material efficiency, renewable energy solutions, and climate-friendly products and services. The households can contribute to climate change mitigation by diminishing the climate impact of housing, transportation and foodstuff.
The project objectives are:
- To identify and develop climate change mitigation processes that involve municipalities, businesses and citizens and lead towards a carbon neutral society
- To catalyse processes that help achieve the emissions reduction targets set by the municipalities
- To assess and report the implemented emission reductions and their cost efficiency, and analyse the factors that made the reductions possible
- To diffuse the HINKU process to the neighbouring municipalities and to offer the possibility for all Finnish municipalities to join the HINKU network by issuing a HINKU logo and criteria
- To create a national HINKU community that is open for all municipalities, businesses, research institutes and associations, and to use the network to spread information about the best practices for climate change mitigation
- To create simple but reliable carbon calculators to be used in planning and monitoring