According to Mayor Minna Arve, Turku has a responsibility to set an example in climate work because it can. At the same time, the city will become more comfortable, providing a safer and more fluent everyday life.
Turku aims to cut down its greenhouse gas emissions enough to ensure carbon neutrality by 2029, when the city celebrates its 800th anniversary.
However, carbon neutrality is only one important step on the way towards a climate positive Turku and Finland. This would allow more carbon to be bound than is emitted into the atmosphere.
'The residents and decision-makers in Turku have a strong climate will: our ambitious climate plan has been approved unanimously by the City Council,' says Mayor Minna Arve.
'We have a responsibility to set an example, because we can. At the same time, however, the city will become more comfortable, providing a safer and more fluent everyday life.'
Ice hockey star Saku Koivu, Mayor Minna Arve, Chairperson of the City Council Elina Rantanen, Chairperson of the City Board Lauri Kattelus
(Photo by Risto Lahtinen)
Getting rid of fossil fuels
The CEO of Turku Energia, Timo Honkanen, says that a transfer towards renewable energies in electricity and heat production is already rapid. Turku Energia is a company owned by the City of Turku.
'The multi-fuel power plant producing heat and electricity in the region utilises primarily renewable sources of energy, such as by-products from the forest industry. In 2020, the share of coal at the plant will be only ten per cent. In the near future, we can leave coal out altogether.'
Through its partner companies, Turku Energia has also increased its shares of wind power and hydropower, and particularly the share of wind power is expected to increase in the future. The Kakolanmäki Wastewater Treatment Plant uses heat pumps to collect waste heat energy, which can then be utilised in the production of district heating and cooling.
Heat from the ground?
Turku is also considering an exciting new field.
'We are examining the possibility to utilise the geothermal heat of the ground. According to the plan, a hole seven kilometres deep would be drilled in the Turku region, from which heat would be conducted to above ground. According to the calculations, the hole could produce up to ten per cent of the heat needed by the entire city for a quarter of a century.'
Honkanen emphasises that the decision has not yet been made. Turku wishes to see the experiences from a similar project in the City of Espoo first.
Turku Energia is also helping its customers to find environmentally sustainable solutions.
'We recently produced a solar power plant of 1,500 panels on the roofs of the Meyer Turku shipyard, for example.'
Eco-friendly living and transportation
Mayor Minna Arve says that the City of Turku Concern companies have cooperated to invest in the improvement of energy efficiency and significant new energy solutions, the Energy Twist for the residents.
'For example, our student housing foundation has created a significant energy-positive site where all of the roof space is used for solar panels, our rental housing company and its residents have saved several million euros in energy costs per year, and our right of residence company is giving up all fossil solutions and investing in electric transportation.
Solar panels on the roof of new student housing (Photo by Turku Energia)
A private company is making one of the largest solar heat power plants in the world on our market square.'
The carbon sinks in the forests and parks of Turku will grow faster than before, as the City will use no more than 40 per cent of the annual forest growth instead of the earlier 60 per cent. The forests also serve to cool down the city and provide refreshment and well-being.
In cooperation with its neighbouring municipalities, Turku is also building a sustainable and centralised urban structure supporting sustainable transportation.
'The next step is to aim to decide on and implement a regional tramway solution to function as the new spine of attractive urban development.'
Reaching the goal together
Mayor Arve notes that climate change must be faced together, and that cities can support each other in this significantly.
'Turku Climate Plan 2029 follows the joint European model, and we report to the UN every year through the CDP. In 2019, our climate work received an
'Cooperation networks such as ICLEI are essential in compiling the competence of cities to benefit everyone: this way, we can learn from each other and support each other. At the same time, cooperation makes our voice stronger and makes our valuable experience available for the UN climate process, for example.
This is why I will be participating in the UN climate summit in Madrid in December to share Turku's experiences and our aim for climate-positivity.'
Constructing a climate-positive city naturally also requires the input of all residents.
'Companies and residents in Turku are working every day to develop and produce sustainable solutions to benefit everyone. Together, we make up the Turku Climate Team, where we all support and encourage each other. Our climate captain is Saku Koivu, a well-known and beloved former ice hockey captain of the teams of Turku, Finland, and Montreal. Together with him, we challenge everyone to participate, and we campaign for sustainable solutions.'
Risto Veivo, Climate Policy Manager
City of Turku