Helsinki launches sustainability tools to encourage climate-conscious choices

By Luke Christou

Helsinki, Finland, has launched the world’s first online service that encourages residents and visitors to the city to make informed sustainable choices.

Named Think Sustainably, the tool rates restaurants, shops, attractions and accommodation in the city against a bespoke criteria designed to tackle the sustainability issues.

This was developed by the City of Helsinki alongside think tank Demos Helsinki, local groups and sustainability experts. The factors it considers were determined by researching the most significant factors of ecological sustainability depending on the service provided.

These tools not only encourage users to be more conscious when choosing places to visit, but also encourage businesses and service providers to improve their practices. In order to be promoted as sustainable, businesses must meet a set number of targets that range from simple tasks like switching to LED lights, to more long-term targets, such as reducing production emissions and protecting biodiversity.

The tools also include a route planner that encourages users to choose emission-free transportation when making their way around the city. This provides an estimate of the CO2 emissions produced per person per journey.

Think Sustainbly tools address Helsinki’s climate concerns

Two thirds of Helsinki’s residents identify the climate crisis as their main concern when asked about the city’s future. To address this, Helsinki has set itself the goal of reducing emissions by 60% by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2035. In comparison, the European Union (EU) is aiming for a 32% reduction by 2030.

“The shift towards carbon neutrality requires both major structural changes and everyday actions,” Kaisa-Reeta Koskinen, director of the City of Helsinki’s Carbon Neutral Helsinki initiative, said. “Individual choices matter: According to recent studies, in order to stop further climate warming, every Finn should reduce their carbon footprint from 10.3 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes by the year 2030.”

Think Sustainably is currently being piloted in the city, with 81 service providers having agreed to take part. Helsinki will continue to roll out the service throughout 2019, before completing a review of its impact in 2020. If it is a success, the City of Helsinki believes its solution could be scaled-up and rolled out to encourage countries around the world to reduce their environmental impact.

“Helsinki is the perfect test-bed for solutions that can later be scaled-up for the world’s megacities. Operating like a city-scale laboratory, Helsinki is eager to experiment with policies and initiatives that would not be possible elsewhere,” Laura Aalto, CEO at Helsinki Marketing, said.

“Helsinki is not finished developing its sustainable policies but is ready to make systematic efforts, both big and small, which work towards achieving a more sustainable world, we hope that others can also learn from our experiments.”


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