CDP, an organisation that gathers information and reports related to climate change, has added Helsinki to its A List of the leading cities of climate work in 2020. CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) is an internationally recognised non-profit organisation that gathers information on climate work in the public and private sectors around the world.

CDP’s list is based on environmental information published by hundreds of cities in 2020. CDP recognises Helsinki as one of 88 cities in the world that are on leading environmental action despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These cities have reported their environmental activities in the unified reporting system of CDP–ICLEI in 2020.

CDP’s A List recognises Helsinki’s efforts in developing a climate change strategy, monitoring the amount of emissions, reducing emissions as well as assessing and reducing climate risks. The list also assesses how openly these issues are reported.

“Helsinki wants to be one of the leading cities in mitigating climate change, and this recognition is proof that our climate work is impactful and that it is valued. The cities are where the battle against climate change is won or lost, which means that we have more responsibility than our size would indicate,” says the Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

Energy production and energy efficiency play a major role

Currently more than one half of Helsinki’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, which means that the production of heating energy and improving the energy efficiency of heating have the greatest potential for reducing emissions.

In early 2021, Helsinki will launch the Energy Renaissance operating model, which aims to speed up the energy renovations of private building stock significantly.

Very strict and binding energy efficiency requirements have also been placed on the City’s own buildings both in new construction and renovations. The City’s actions have a large-scale impact, because its requirements apply to all of the city’s premises, service buildings and the residential buildings of the Helsinki City Housing Company (Heka).

The E-value in the new construction of the city’s premises and service buildings must be 20% lower than the national standards. After renovations, the energy consumption of buildings may reach 80% of the requirements of the national standard at maximum. A photovoltaic system is implemented in the existing building stock as well as new premises and service buildings, and the possibility of using geothermal heat as the main heating system of new buildings will be investigated.

All new residential buildings built on plots of the City of Helsinki must be in energy class A.

Helsinki has speeded up the replacement of coal in the production of heating energy with decisions of EUR 300 million in investments by the City-owned energy company Helen into the production of renewable energy and the recovery of waste heat. Helsinki also wants to act as a platform of new, sustainable and innovative solutions, and it opened the international Helsinki Energy Challenge competition in February 2020. The competition seeks solutions that can be used to heat the city sustainably in the coming decades without coal and with as little biomass as possible. Helsinki has committed to openly sharing the results of the competition to allow other cities to use them in their own climate projects.

Helsinki has developed an internationally unique, open Climate Watch service for monitoring the climate work and emission reductions. The City has also created the Energy and Climate Atlas that contains energy information on the buildings in Helsinki.

Preparing for the changing climate

Helsinki prepares for the changing climate through land use planning, among other things. The land use planning of Helsinki uses a Green Factor that ensures that sufficiently large green areas are left on plots, while also preventing flooding due to storm water. Natural storm water management is piloted in the Kuninkaantammi area that is under construction. Helsinki has also included climate risks in significant risks in the City’s emergency preparedness planning.

Helsinki’s work towards carbon neutrality also includes the carbon-neutral design of new areas that are being constructed, such as the Malmi Airport area and the Vihdintie boulevard. The emission reduction goal is also visible in Helsinki in the prioritisation of sustainable forms of transport – such as public transport and electricity-based mobility. Bicycle routes and their winter maintenance are also developed systematically, among other things. The expansion of the rail traffic network is another strong focus area; examples include significant investments in the Raide-Jokeri project and the Kruunusillat traffic connection as well as expanding the light-rail line outwards from the inner city.

Emission reduction is also a requirement of the city procurement guidelines.

Helsinki participates actively in international climate work and networks in order to exchange information on best practices for reducing emissions.

The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan for reducing emissions that was approved in 2018 will be updated during the spring of 2021.

Helsinki Climate Watch (in Finnish)

Helsinki’s climate actions website

The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan  PDF

Helsinki’s climate change adaptation policies 2019–2025 PDF

City of Helsinki Storm Water Management Program PDF

Helsinki Energy and Climate Atlas


CDP Cities A List 2020  


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