Green cities lead the way to European recovery – Lappeenranta, Lahti, Grenoble and Växjö present options in the webinar during European Week of Regions and Cities

City of Lappeenranta (Finland), together with Cities Lahti (Finland), Grenoble (France) and Växjö (Sweden) organises the How green cities lead the way to European recovery? -webinar on 13th October as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021.

Four green cities, all Green Capital or Green Leaf winners, will organise the webinar in the framework of the 19th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities to highlight the theme Green Transition. The aim of the event is to show how forerunner green cities enhance the speed of their green transition by utilizing the European Recovery funding opportunities and European-wide networking possibilities.

Green Capital and Green Leaf cities are recognised for their commitment to ambitious goals and environmental standards. All the Green Cities has set the common objectives of the recovery: decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, productivity growth and raising the employment rate. At the workshop you will get to know the best practises of recovery and sustainability work of the cities of Lahti and Lappeenranta, Finland, Grenoble, France and Växjö, Sweden. Each presentation will have different angle to boost the recovery. Moderator of the webinar is Regional Director Europe Wolfgang Teubner from ICLEI.

Webinar is held on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM (CET)

Please register here.

City of Lahti develops carbon neutral construction

City of Lahti in Finland is the European Green Capital 2021. We have already abandoned the use of coal and will become a carbon-neutral city by 2025 as the first major city in Finland. Lahti is known as an agile research and development area for environmental technology, where the environmental monitoring, circular economy, land use and construction sectors cooperate seamlessly and efficiently. This enables the development and testing of interdisciplinary innovations on a practical scale. In Lahti, we are creating a product development, research and piloting platform for innovations in carbon-neutral and energy-efficient construction – covering the entire life cycle of buildings, from zoning to the utilisation of demolition materials.

The Carbon Neutral Construction Development Centre was established in Lahti in autumn 2020. City of Lahti is seeking solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of construction in both new and old buildings. The Centre focuses on global megatrends: renewable energy production, minimisation of energy use, recycling of demolition materials and use of organic materials in buildings as carbon sinks. It involves the City of Lahti and the city-owned construction companies, as well as the educational institutions and several companies in the area. During the presentation, director Juhani Pirinen will tell about some practical examples of the projects that the Carbon Neutral Construction Development Centre is working with.

Green cities play a key role economic recovery of Europe’s mountain region

Grenoble, European Green Capital 2022, is a city of 160.000 inhabitants in a densely populated valley in the French alpine mountain range. Back in 2005, we adopted France's first climate action plan and are now seeking to turn Covid into an opportunity to accelerate the transitions with our neighbours in the valley and the mountains. Since 2014, for example, the city has been circularising the supply chain for the 11.000 meals it prepares daily for schools and care homes: local farms now provide organic, seasonal food, at least once per week vegetarian, with a 100% vegetarian option. As the next step, we would like to replace today's plastics containers with cellulose-based ones made from local wood, suited for composting.

Whilst Grenoble acknowledges the need for electric vehicles, it believes that in the long term hydrogen, and already today natural gas from methanisation of waste, are good alternatives notably for public transport and logistics. Mountain regions are badly suited to being equipped with an EV infrastructure and EU-funded pilots have shown that green hydrogen produced with solar power could be a viable alternative. In the short term, Grenoble promotes bio-methane for public transport and heavy vehicles.

Mountains are often considered leisure playgrounds for skiing or alpinism. Since 15 years, Grenoble is working with its citizens for a wider scope that includes conservation, food, mountain culture, local value chains and responsible outdoor activities. Our tools are France's biggest alpine movie festival, excursions for pupils from disadvantaged families, teaching children alternatives to downhill skiing, putting local products into the Christmas market etc. These actions also feed into the EU strategy for the Alpine Regions.

Climate City Contract leeds a way to climate neutrality

Växjö is a municipality of 95,000 inhabitants in the southern part of Sweden. It is a growing city surrounded by forests and lakes. Since early 1970’s Växjö has been on a path to steadily improve the environmental work, which is a unanimous focus among the political parties. Back in 1996, Växjö decided to become a fossil fuel free city, to be achieved in 2030. CO2 emissions are now at a level of approximately 1.4 tonnes per capita. This is a result of a strategic work, not at least with the energy production which is now totally from renewable energy sources. The commitment to reducing environmental impact made Växjö being the winner of the European Green Leaf Award in 2018.

In 2020, Växjö signed a Climate City Contract with a number of national authorities. This contract states that Växjö will speed up the transition to climate neutrality by 2030, as well as the authorities paving the way with necessary policy changes and support. The contract also acknowledges the importance of local and regional cooperation in order to be successful. This is no news to Växjö, who has a history of involving citizens, companies and the university in the climate work.

During our event, Deputy Lord Mayor Cheryl Jones Fur will talk about the Climate City Contract and how we will use it at local level to be successful.

Lappeenranta is working hard to green the electrification

Lappeenranta, the Climate Capital of Finland, has been chosen as one of the Greenest European Cities. European Green Leaf Award 2021 winner is full of high energy, out-of-the-box thinking and international expertise. Lappeenranta will be carbon neutral city by 2030.

We pioneer in renewable energy and clean environments with passionate problem-solving at our forte. In our university and tourist center, located in logistically important region in South-East Finland only 2 hours from Helsinki, near the border between the EU and Russia, we dare and do. The Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT, the innovative operating environment, skilled workforce and good networks in a city of around 73,000 residents make it easier to start up and expand international business operations.

Electrification will change the world, it’s industry and the way of economics. The world is looking for a new emission-free and reliable energy system. We are going to turn emissions into opportunities.

During the webinar, MP and member of the Lappeenranta City Council Hanna Holopainen will tell how local companies are set to reveal the most innovative solutions, how we are going to save the planet – and at the same time create growth in global business. We can transform air and water into fuels, chemicals, materials and even into food.

With the know-how of local university Lappeenranta has become a center for energy and environment research, innovation and business. There are 3000 jobs related to cleantech and sustainable business in the region. City has made with the national government an innovation agreement to speed up the business on green electrification. By combining renewable energy, water and carbon dioxide, we can produce fuels without emissions.

Mr. Markku Heinonen, Development Director, City of Lappeenranta.
+358 40 581 1998, markku.heinonen(at)lappeenranta.fi

Ms. Kati Korhonen, European Green Leaf Project Manager, City of Lappeenranta.
+358 40 354 2799, kati.m.korhonen(at)lappeenranta.fi