Municipalities working towards carbon neutrality

News 2021-10-28 at 11:01

Finland has multiple examples of ambitious climate action. One of the best examples of climate work is the Hinku network, that can inspire globally. Hinku network brings together municipalities, businesses, citizens, and experts to create and carry out solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And studies show, the effort has paid off.

Hinku network is committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 80 % by 2030 compared to the 2007 levels. The target is more ambitious than EU emission targets require. In addition to lowering emissions, the network aims to create solutions that have economic and social benefits.

From five municipalities to 80

Hinku network was created in 2008 and it started with five municipalities: Kuhmoinen, Mynämäki, Padasjoki, Parikkala and Uusikaupunki, which all are quite small on size.

However, the membership grew fast thanks to the growing understanding that climate action is needed. For example, in 2019 new record was made when total 24 municipalities joined Hinku network.

Now the Hinku network represents all kinds of municipalities, may that be small municipalities or big cities. Currently there are 80 Hinku municipalities and five Hinku regions. In addition, a large group of companies and experts are involved.

The impact of Hinku network

Joining the Hinku network has lowered municipalities’ greenhouse gas emissions: Hinku municipalities’ emissions are 3,1 % lower than they would be if they weren’t a member of Hinku, shows a study.

According to interviews most of Hinku municipalities feel that joining the network has increased climate action’s effectiveness. 80 % of Hinku representatives felt that joining Hinku network has had an impact on the municipality’s climate work, and 60% feel that joining the network has concretely increased climate action.

Hinku network’s membership has lowered emissions quite evenly on different sectors of society, but the impact for example can especially been seen on emissions of electricity consumption.

In addition to declining emissions, Hinku membership has increased cooperation among different sectors and strengthened municipality’s will to carry out climate actions. Hinku membership has also made it easier to justify climate work inside the municipality.

Hinku network gives support and increases cooperation

The network facilitates knowledge exchange, supports municipalities in their climate action and creates demand for climate friendly products and services.

The network has also a huge role if municipality faces challenges with executing climate action. Down below are listed four possible scenarios what might cause a challenge and examples on how the network can help to solve it.

  1. Challenge: there aren’t enough resources, may that be money, time, or know-how. Solution: allocating the yearly budget for Hinku, hiring employees, seeking for support and solutions from regional climate projects.
  2. Challenge: there isn’t enough information on what are the most efficient climate actions and how to make them happen. Solution: using expert organizations’ knowledge to help, asking help from other Hinku municipalities.
  3. Challenge: municipality doesn’t know how to externally communicate about the municipality’s climate work. Solution: creating a brand for the municipality’s climate work, placing climate work’s results such as solar panels somewhere visible.
  4. Challenge: decision makers or other actors aren’t willing to execute or get involved in climate action. Solution: organizing workshops, highlighting the economic benefits of climate work, hiring Hinku representative, communicating about successful climate work, involving citizens in planning climate action, organizing events for companies, and involving companies to Hinku work.

The Finnish Environment SYKE was one of the actors that created Hinku and now it coordinates the network and support municipalities on climate work.

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Further information:

  • Jyri Seppälä,
  • Laura Saikku,

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