European Commission Vice-President Timmermans and Mayor Mäkelä discussed the role of cities in climate change

Published: 8.2.2022 15.59Updated: 28.2.2022 8.14

The city of Espoo has been doing long-term sustainable development work for years. At the meeting, it was discussed how European cities can contribute to solving the global climate challenge and benefit from the lessons of pioneers such as Espoo.

The Mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä, discussed today, Tuesday 8th of February, with the EU Commission Vice-President  Frans Timmermans. Timmermans is responsible for the Commission's climate affairs and the European Green Deal Program.

The European Union is committed to an ambitious climate policy. In its Green Deal Program, it has set the goal of removing as much greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere as it produces by 2050. Espoo is aiming for the same already by 2030. Common steps to achieve this goal was discussed during the visit.

"In the city’s strategy, the Espoo story, we are committed to develop solutions that strengthen competitiveness, the imprint of climate work, create sustainable growth and reduce emissions. In this way, we are doing a modern, resource-efficient and competitive EU economy", says Mayor Mäkelä.

Shared innovation to benefit the entire EU

During the meeting, Mäkelä described how Espoo acts as a partner for the development of clean and intelligent urban solutions.

"It was great to see how Timmermans, as the leader of EU climate policy, was interested in the “Espoo way” of doing things. We want the city's handprint, meaning the new innovations, to be globally significant. Companies in Espoo develop and experiment with new solutions first at the local level and then export the best solutions globally. In this way, innovations can benefit the entire EU", Mäkelä comments after the visit.

Alongside the carbon footprint, which measures emissions, climate work has begun to pay more attention to the positive effects of operations, i.e. the so-called carbon handprint. A positive carbon handprint arises from the fact that a new product or service reduces the carbon footprint of the actors implementing it elsewhere. Espoo is home to the largest innovation hub in the Nordic countries, where solutions are created in cooperation with the city, research and companies to help solve global challenges such as climate change.

Espoo is one of the world's leading climate cities. Sustainable development is promoted in extensive cooperation through the cross-administrative Sustainable Espoo Program.

"The most significant climate change mitigation measures in Espoo are related to energy production, transportation, construction and land use planning. These challenges are common to European cities", says Meri Löyttyniemi, Chair of the Sustainable Espoo Program, who participated in the meeting.

EU invests significantly in sustainable development, Espoo participates in the mission of climate-neutral and smart cities

The European Union’s Green Deal Program was published in December 2019. This is the growth strategy for EU to make Europe a carbon-neutral continent by 2050. A key component is the European Green Deal Investment Plan (EGDIP), through which the EU will invest at least € 1 trillion in sustainable solutions by the end of the decade.

The city of Espoo is waiting for a decision on the “100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030” mission application during the spring. The mission is part of the EU’s new Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Program, which seeks to address global and societal challenges. If Espoo gets involved, it will become one of 100 pilot and innovation centers whose solutions will enable all European cities to achieve the same goals by 2050.

The Eurocities Annual Forum will bring EU actors together to Espoo in June

The Eurocities Annual Forum, to be held in Dipoli from 8th to 10th June 2022, will bring European city leaders, senior EU officials and the media to Espoo. The Annual Forum is Eurocities’ flagship event of the year, bringing together 200 large and medium-sized European cities and this year focuses on urban climate leadership, co-development and youth participation.

"We invited Timmermans to participate in the Eurocities Annual Forum. The role of cities in achieving the goals of the EU's Green Deal is crucial, and dialogue between the Commission and cities is important", says Milla Ovaska, Head of International Affairs.

Eurocities is Espoo’s most significant international city network, in which several city units are active. Eurocities conducts EU advocacy and EU analysis for cities, and provides a platform for urban peer learning and competence development.

Further information

Milla Ovaska, Head of International Affairs, City of Espoo, tel. +358 43 824 4911, milla.ovaska@espoo.fi

Elina Wanne, Development Manager, tel. +358 43 825 8883, elina.wanne@espoo.fi

In the pictured are Milla Ovaska, Jukka Mäkelä, Frans Timmermans and Meri Löyttyniemi.
  • Climate