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Carbon footprint data supports climate-smart procurement

News 2022-08-04 at 11:42
© The City of Helsinki

The City of Helsinki is a significant buyer in Finland. Each year, the city acquires and invests approximately EUR 4 billion in goods and services. Recently, the climate impacts and emission reduction potential of procurement have become part of the climate policy of public actors. The importance of procurement in climate work is emphasised, among other things, by the fact that direct emission reductions, for example in energy production, are advancing rapidly, thus increasing the share of indirect emissions in the emissions distribution.

Information about the development of calculation methods

As part of Helsinki achieving carbon neutrality in the Canemure project, a study on the application of the carbon footprint in public procurement was carried out. The purpose is to help suppliers to understand the role of carbon footprint calculation and the opportunities and challenges it brings for setting the climate criteria for procurement. The study examines the background, calculation methods and future prospects of carbon footprint calculations in three categories: 1) in building construction, 2) in infrastructure construction and asphalting, and 3) in food and food service purchases. However, the conclusions of the study can also be applied in general terms to other sectors of procurement.

Carbon footprint assessment helps make sustainable choices

One of the key conclusions of the study is that carbon footprint calculation alone does not yet go very far in achieving the targets. It is therefore essential to consider the climate targets and understand the significance of climate impacts in each procurement category separately, to assess the usefulness of existing calculation data, and to consider at which stage of the procurement a possible calculation is needed. The assessment of the carbon footprint and the definition of climate objectives must be an integral part of the management of procurement and the development of procurement responsibility in a broader sense.

Lessons from the Canemure project

The lessons learned from the Canemure project and the survey will be linked to training courses organised for the city's procurement experts according to the wishes of the industries. The development of carbon footprint calculation in construction and food procurement will be actively monitored, and in addition, efforts will be made to create a common minimum responsibility criterion for food services throughout the city during 2022.

Tips for sustainable food purchases and construction procurement:

  • Monitor the development work of the target of procurement for assessing the climate impact
  • Practice and increase understanding of the use of carbon footprint calculation
  • Utilise the results of carbon footprint calculations for similar projects
  • Share your climate-smart examples.

Read the Canemure project’s publications and procurement examples from Helsinki's climate actions and the link below:

Report (PDF): Application of carbon footprint in public procurements – Report on the development of calculation methods in construction and food procurements (in Finnish)

News on the website of the City of Helsinki (in Finnish)

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