Achieving carbon neutrality in this decade

Published: 3.12.2021 13.08
Infograph: Espoo is carbon neutral in 2030

During this council term, sustainable Espoo will become part of the everyday life of citizens.

The Espoo Story, approved by the new Espoo City Council on 25 October 2021, strongly highlights ecological, economic and social sustainability.

The Espoo Story, or the city’s strategy for 2021–2025, outlines that Espoo will achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2025 and will be a carbon-neutral city by 2030 at the very latest. The work towards the objectives is implemented by the Sustainable Espoo programme, applying to all administrative sectors. Its first task is to put together the actions that are under way and being planned into a roadmap for combating climate change. 

“The goals are ambitious, and sustainable development is really at the heart of the Espoo Story. During the next four years, we must focus on implementation and results,” says Meri Löyttyniemi, Chairperson of the Control Group of the Sustainable Espoo development programme. 

Preserving the city’s natural values is part of the new Espoo Story. “The goal is to keep the wonderful water systems and local nature within everyone’s reach,” says Meri Löyttyniemi.Photo: Matias Löyttyniemi

Raising sustainable development as a central part of the city’s strategy also pleases Kasperi Manninen, representing the Espoo Youth Council in the control group.

“It is important that future generations also have forests, parks and recreational opportunities in Espoo. As a coastal city, for example, sea level rise would affect us,” says Kasperi Manninen.

Espoo has the most active Youth Council in Finland. “It has real chances to make a difference, and it raises young people’s concerns about the climate,” says Kasperi Manninen.

Cross-administrative work on sustainable development started in Espoo already in 2013. What is the most significant achievement of the previous council terms? 

“Absolutely the large-scale energy solutions, such as the co-operation with Fortum to quit coal and the Deep Heat pilot project of the geothermal plant. And, of course, bringing these goals to the heart of city management,” says Meri Löyttyniemi.

“It is a big deal for Espoo to set an example for the world’s really big cities. Their actions have a global impact,” says Kasperi Manninen.  

In Manninen’s opinion, the fact that Espoo ranked as the most sustainable city in Europe from among 140 European cities is proof of the city’s pioneer status. 

Turning goals into habits

However, the biggest challenge still lies ahead.

“The most challenging phase is to implement the goals as part of the everyday life of citizens and businesses,” says Meri Löyttyniemi.

Practical measures have been prepared in the workshops of the Sustainable Espoo programme in October 2021. The next critical step is the city’s budget, which will be prepared in a challenging economic situation.

“The budget measures our ability to advance the goals,” says Löyttyniemi.

Recent secondary school graduate Kasperi Manninen says that the sustainable development work is already showing in the daily school life. 

“In the upper secondary school, cycling was promoted and investments were made, for example, in bicycle parking areas.” 

The student association board also pitched in by acquiring recycling points for the school to ensure the recycling of empty soda bottles and energy drink cans. 

“It is also the student association’s main source of income.” 

Environmental matters are important also in Meri Löyttyniemi’s personal daily life. She has prepared a sorting guide for the housing company where she lives and established an urban cultivation area in Otaniemi. She also chose a hybrid car and is preparing her doctoral dissertation on sustainable development work at Finnish universities.  In her work as a senior advisor at Aalto University, Löyttyniemi is in charge of promoting sustainable development.

The family of Kasperi Manninen has lived in Espoo for many generations, and Manninen is not about to break the tradition. 

“This is a great city to live in. There are many options, great detached-house areas and areas of blocks of flats along the metro line.”

The city will be even better when the metro line is extended and the Jokeri Light Rail line starts running. 

Löyttyniemi hopes that, by the end of this council term, the city’s status as the most sustainable city in Europe will be reflected as a positive change in the daily lives of all citizens. 

“Hopefully we have taken a big leap forward and Espoo’s climate emissions have fallen drastically.” 

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  • Innovation work
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