Energy Transition

This Finnish town will be carbon neutral by 2025. Here’s how.

image of a sunset in Lahti, Finland

This Finnish town is 10 years ahead of its nation's carbon neutral target. Image: Unsplash/Hert Niks

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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  • Lahti in Finland wants to be carbon neutral by 2025 – far sooner than many other towns and cities.
  • Cleaner sources of energy are a major part of its plan.
  • Residents are involved in a range of sustainable projects – and even their symphony orchestra has joined in.

In the south of Finland, the small city of Lahti became the winner of the 2021 European Green Capital competition in recognition of its environmental ambitions. It plans to be carbon neutral by 2025 – that’s 10 years ahead of Finland’s national goal to achieve the same status.

One way it is going about this is the adoption of more sustainable power generation. The city has two new power stations. Kymijärvi II, which is described as the world’s first gasification plant, is run on the city’s waste. Kymijärvi III is a biomass power plant. It takes waste from the timber industry and wood from certified, local forests.

Building them cost approximately $217 million over a five-year period, and received funding from the EU. The EU has already made progress driving down emissions levels across Europe.

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a graph of annual total emissions by world region, showing how Europe’s CO2 emissions have started to dip.
Europe’s CO2 emissions have started to dip. Image: Our World in Data

A serious commitment

“We take the environment seriously and we were willing to invest in new technology,” said Esa Tepponen, project manager at Lahti Energia, the company behind the power plants. “We gave up coal as the source of our fuel and replaced it with clean biomass,” he told the news service Enex.

The switch to more sustainable fuel sources means a reduction in CO2 emissions that is equivalent to the amount produced by 60,000 Finns each year.

This green outlook has spread to the Lahti Symphony Orchestra – which calls itself the world’s first carbon neutral symphony orchestra due to its commitment to eliminating its carbon footprint. Plus, citizens of Lahti can measure how much carbon they are responsible for using a smartphone app, and earn points for sustainable behaviour.


What's the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Global goals

From Amsterdam to Yokohama, the number of cities around the world taking steps to achieve carbon neutrality is growing. One of the catalysts for change is the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA), which describes itself as “a collaboration of leading global cities working to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050 – the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets undertaken anywhere, by any city”.

Its membership, made up of 22 global cities, works on a range of initiatives around funding, leadership and communication in order to prioritize hitting their ambitious climate goals. Between 2015 and 2019, the CNCA Innovation Fund invested $3,255,496 million – and helped secure an additional $43,550,706m in funding from other sources. The funds were directed toward supporting innovation in transport, energy-supply, buildings and waste.

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Energy TransitionClimate ActionSustainable DevelopmentForum Institutional
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