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Preliminary estimates: Municipalities’ climate emissions decreased by 3.1% in 2021

News 2022-11-22 at 9:56
Emissions decreased in almost all Finnish municipalities in 2005–2021 by nearly one third, or by 28.7 per cent.
The total greenhouse gas emissions of Finnish municipalities by sector in 2005–2021. Emissions have been calculated in accordance with the Hinku calculation rules. © SYKE

According to calculations by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), municipalities’ total climate emissions decreased by 3.1 per cent in 2021 from the previous year.

Emissions decreased in nearly all sectors, but an increase in heating demand slowed down the rate of reduction in emissions from heating buildings.

According to preliminary data, emissions from district heat consumption fell by only 0.2 per cent. Emissions from district heat production per produced energy, however, fell by some 13 per cent. This was mainly due to the replacement of fossil fuels with lower-emission heat sources in some large cities. On the other hand, the increased heating demand in several municipalities had to be met with a greater use of fossil fuels. The use of natural gas also grew in several municipalities.

Emissions from electric heating increased by 4.9 per cent from 2020. Emissions from consumption electricity, however, fell by 1.9 per cent from the level of 2020 as a result of the increased share of renewable energy sources.

Emissions from road traffic fell by 3.2 per cent. Thus, the slightly increased levels of road traffic from 2020 did not increase road traffic emissions to pre-pandemic levels. This is due, for example, to the renewal of the motor vehicle fleet, changes in the distribution of propulsion power and, most importantly, the higher share of biofuels.

The trend in emissions from non-road mobile machinery, water traffic, waste treatment and f-gases continued to decline. Emissions from agriculture fell clearly, by 2.9 per cent.

“The year 2020 was exceptional, as the pandemic stopped some of the normal functions of society, but it was also a very warm year. Compared to the previous year, the year 2021 was clearly colder, and we had already begun to recover from the initial shock brought on by the coronavirus. It is very encouraging that the development of emissions has continued in the right direction despite everything”, says Santtu Karhinen, Senior Research Scientist in charge of calculations at SYKE.

The distribution of emissions between different sectors remained relatively unchanged from the previous year. The results from 2021 show that the main emission sectors, to which emission reduction measures should also be applied, are road traffic (27%), agriculture (21%), district heat consumption (14%) and electricity consumption (heating and consumption electricity totalling 11%).

The main emission sectors in 2021 are road traffic (27%), agriculture (21%), district heat consumption (14%) and electricity consumption (heating and consumption electricity totalling 11%).
Distribution of total municipal emissions in 2021. Emissions have been calculated in accordance with the Hinku calculation rules. © SYKE

Positive emissions trends can also be observed over a longer period of time. Emissions decreased in almost all Finnish municipalities in 2005–2021 by nearly one third, or by 28.7 per cent.

Considerable differences in emissions per resident between regions

In 2021, emissions per resident fell in all regions when compared to the year before, except for a slight increase in emissions in South Karelia. However, there are considerable differences between municipalities and regions in the sectoral distribution of emissions and their development. Emissions per resident are lowest in the southern regions, as in the previous years.

Regional differences are explained by factors such as differences in industrial structures, geography, weather conditions and fuel use in district heating.

In 2021, emissions per resident fell in all regions when compared to the year before, except for a slight increase in emissions in South Karelia.
Greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the regions in 2021. Emissions have been calculated in accordance with the Hinku calculation rules. © SYKE

Municipalities' and regions' climate indicators support the monitoring of climate work

SYKE has compiled various indicators used in 2017–2021 by municipalities and regions relating to energy and transport. Alongside calculations of emissions, these indicators support and complement the monitoring of the progress of the climate work done by municipalities and regions.

The indicators show that, for example, small-scale production of grid-connected solar electricity has multiplied in recent years. The number of buildings utilising geothermal heat is also growing.

The average emissions per kilometre of passenger cars are falling because of the renewal of the car fleet, but, on the other hand, the number of cars has also increased. The number and share of cars powered by alternative power sources, such as electricity and gas, has increased rapidly, as have the number of public charging and gas stations.

Climate actions by Hinku municipalities to be made public

The Finnish Environment Institute has compiled the climate actions of the municipalities participating in the Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities (Hinku) network and the regions involved in the Canemure project in recent years. 

Emissions calculation continuously being developed

SYKE's emissions calculation system ALas covers all Finnish municipalities and 80 emission sectors. Emissions and energy consumption are calculated annually for all municipalities and sectors. The calculation model is updated as necessary; for example, on the basis of new available data. The data used in the preliminary data calculations are not all used in the final calculations. The final emission data for 2021, to be released in spring 2023, will differ in some respects from the preliminary data figures.

In the near future, the emissions calculation service will be expanded to cover emission data per municipality for 1990. This will allow for a more direct correlation between regional emission reduction goals and the realised emission development with the national targets in accordance with the Finnish Climate Act.

In addition to the currently published, annually monitored usage-based emission data, SYKE is developing a consumption-based emission calculation model that will provide additional information for the efficient targeting of regional climate work.

Different calculations complement each other and give a more diverse picture of emissions and help to target emission reduction measures in municipalities.

The municipal emissions calculation system has received funding from the Life IP Canemure project of the European Union.

Emissions calculation materials are publicly available:

Graphs

Further information

  • Santtu Karhinen, Senior Research Scientist, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1889, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Johannes Lounasheimo, Senior Specialist, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1008, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Eija Ferreira, Senior Research Scientist (Oil and other separate heating), Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 227, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Juha Grönroos, Senior Research Scientist (Agriculture), Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1128, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Tommi Forsberg, Coordinator (F-gases), Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1116, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Jouko Petäjä, Senior Research Scientist (landfills), Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1508, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Venla Riekkinen, Coordinator (climate indicators), Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1942, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Professor Jyri Seppälä, National Director of the HINKU network, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1629, firstname.lastname@syke.f

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