Helsinki aims to be a leading player in the transition to a low carbon economy. Its goal is to be carbon neutral by 2035, which means it has to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels. The remaining 20% will be offset by climate action outside the city borders and by increasing carbon sinks. The city is on the right track. In 2018 it noted a reduction of 28% - as its population increased by 150,000 from 1990, this meant a reduction of 45% per resident. While this is significant progress, to reach its 2035 goal Helsinki will need to cut emissions faster.
The two biggest sources of emissions in Helsinki are heating (56%) and transport (24%), making energy renovations a major priority for the city. Emissions from buildings could be reduced by 80%, for example, by making them more energy-efficient when renovating them. Helsinki finds it important to involve residents and organisations in the process of reducing emissions as it only owns a small percentage of the buildings in the city.
Regarding traffic, Helsinki wants to reduce traffic emissions 69% from the 2005 level by 2035. It aims to achieve this by reducing the amount of kilometres its citizens travel by car, and encouraging them to choose low-emission transport alternatives. Furthermore, the city wants to further invest in development of vehicle technology, extend the charging network to promote the use of electric vehicles, and implement new mobility services.
Helsinki has already been experimenting with AI to reduce traffic- and heating-related emissions. The Helsinki Jätkäsaari Mobility Lab has used AI to enhance transport flows with a generic algorithm controlling traffic lights. This has led to 15-30% better traffic flows. The AI-enhanced Heat Demand Response, piloted in the EU Smart City Lighthouse project Mysmartlife, has saved 10-30% of building energy use in a building that was already very energy-efficient.