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Pathways to Carbon-Neutral Cities Prior to a National Policy

Department of Built Environment, School of Engineering, Aalto University, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2445;
Received: 24 February 2020 / Revised: 17 March 2020 / Accepted: 19 March 2020 / Published: 20 March 2020
Some cities have set carbon neutrality targets prior to national or state-wide neutrality targets, which makes the shift to carbon neutrality more difficult, as the surrounding system does not support this. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate different options for a progressive city to reach carbon neutrality in energy prior to the surrounding system. The study followed the C40 Cities definition of a carbon-neutral city and used the City of Vantaa in Finland as a progressive case aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030, five years before the national target for carbon neutrality. The study mapped the carbon neutrality process based on City documents and national statistics, and validated it through process-owner interviews. It was identified that most of the measures in the carbon neutrality process were actually outside the jurisdiction of the City, which outsources the responsibility for the majority of carbon neutrality actions to either private properties or national actors with broader boundaries. The only major measure in the City’s direct control was the removal of carbon emissions from municipal district heat production, which potentially represent 30% of the City’s reported carbon emissions and 58% of its energy-related carbon emissions. Interestingly, the City owns electricity production capacity within and beyond the city borders, but it doesn’t allocate it for itself. Allocation would significantly increase the control over the City’s own actions regarding carbon neutrality. Thus, it is proposed that cities aiming for carbon neutrality should promote and advance allocable carbon-free energy production, regardless of geographical location, as one of the central methods of achieving carbon neutrality. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon neutral cities; greenhouse gas emissions; GHG Protocol; C40 Cities; sustainable built environment carbon neutral cities; greenhouse gas emissions; GHG Protocol; C40 Cities; sustainable built environment
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Laine, J.; Heinonen, J.; Junnila, S. Pathways to Carbon-Neutral Cities Prior to a National Policy. Sustainability 2020, 12, 2445.

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