Climate change is the biggest issue to be solved in our time. Solving the issue requires action globally as well as locally. I stand as a candidate in the municipal elections so that I could take part in making Oulu a climate neutral city. Municipalities can fight climate change by improving energy efficiency, investing in emission-free energy sources, and taking climate issues into account in city planning, traffic planning and public acquisitions. Oulu should take into account of climate issues in all its decision making and acquisitions.
Here in brief, my thoughts on what Oulu can do to fight climate change
Energy efficiency brings savings and reduces emissions
Energy consumption can be reduced by improving the energy efficiency in city housing and other premises. For example, considerable savings can be achieved by installing heat pumps. Oulu could also utilize smart energy systems. Smart systems can store energy when the demand is low, and as the demand grows the energy storage can be taken into use. Other means to save energy is to make use of industrial waste energy in heat generation, or decreasing food waste. By developing new type of services, we can offer excess food at affordable price for those in need.
Ambitious energy solutions
Oulu should promote trying out emission-free energy solutions, and join the national carbon neutral municipality project, HINKU, http://www.hinku-foorumi.fi/en-US
Some steps to strive for carbon neutrality:
- Stop utilizing peat as an energy source
- Continue investing in solar energy and geothermal energy production
- Utilize large capacity heat pumps to optimize co-production of heat and electricity, as well as to diversify heat production in general
Denser city structure and emission-free traffic
Denser city structure produces considerably less emissions when compared to a decentralized model. In Finland, traffic causes 20 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. People’s apartments, workplaces and shops should be close to each other. Traffic should be planned so that it is easy walk or cycle from place to place, or to use public transport. A city can influence this with careful planning and land use. Climate impact need to be taken into account in traffic planning as well. A charging network for electric cars and buses need to be planned in Oulu.
Public acquisitions and climate impact assessment
A city can influence in climate change via public acquisitions as well. We can prefer choosing the option with less emissions and promote climate neutral Oulu by looking into the climate impact as a part of the competitive procurement. When making major decisions in Oulu, the climate impact needs to be assessed. Just having “climate impact assessment” as one step in the decision making process, will advance the city towards climate neutrality.
To sum up, there already are many existing tools for cities to fight climate change. In my opinion, Oulu, as a strong research and technology city, should lead the way in the fight.