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Regional climate action in Pirkanmaa

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2020-03-30 Marko Mäkinen

Climate action needs to be carried out at all levels. Especially municipalities have lately assumed leadership by extensively committing to carbon neutrality targets and by joining the Carbon Neutral Municipalities (Hinku) network promoting work in the field. To date, the regional level has been more of an onlooker in this respect.

The regional efforts carried out through the Hinku network bring all parties to the same table

The first steps in more goal-oriented regional climate action are now being taken in the Pirkanmaa region. The political decision-making system has been fine-tuned to more closely focus on climate challenges, and last spring, a sub-committee on climate and the environment was set up in connection with the regional executive. The sub-committee is tasked with preparing initiatives related to its themes and with conducting more detailed policy discussions before the topics are handled by the regional executive. Preparation by public officials, on the one hand, and by politicians, on the other hand, will also be brought closer together. Although the sub-committee is formally a body of the regional council, it also serves as a good cooperation forum for activities involving the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which has a professional representative on the sub-committee. The inclusion of representatives of young people strengthens the future-oriented perspective of discussions.

While the sub-committee’s operating methods have not yet found their final form, the activities have already made the regional council’s climate action more systematic and persistent. There is no shortage of meeting topics, and the sub-committee has ambitiously taken on climate initiatives that are of interest and importance to the region. One example of the sub-committee’s successful preparations is the region-wide commitment to the Hinku network’s objectives. This received confirmation in late October 2019 when the Finnish Environment Institute nominated Pirkanmaa and South Karelia as the first Hinku regions.

Regional support for climate action

Being a Hinku region, Pirkanmaa primarily strives to support other players in the region rather than focus on polishing its own image. This is also the approach that the sub-committee has adopted in its work, aiming to help regional players in their climate efforts, highlight good practices and strengthen the knowledge base for climate action. The region’s support can be of crucial importance, especially for smaller municipalities.

Now that the Pirkanmaa region has been granted Hinku status, the Council of Tampere Region and the Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which were the ones that originally submitted the Hinku application, must also adopt emissions reduction measures. This applies both to matters that they promote through the work of public officials as well as to their own activities and daily routines. Good cooperation, role assignments and work distribution play a key role in all this. No one can save the world on their own, but collaborative, aligned efforts can make it possible. As a member of the Hinku network, Pirkanmaa stands for collaborative action.

A road map offering a toolbox for a wide range of climate challenges

The concrete climate efforts in Pirkanmaa are also influenced by the six-year EU Life Canemure project, which involves both the Council of Tampere Region and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. While the Hinku status provides direction and an objective for regional climate action, the Canemure project helps draw the path leading to the target. The project involves creating and maintaining a road map for carbon neutrality in the Pirkanmaa region. It will describe the elements that have the greatest impact on emissions reductions and identify the best measures for achieving the goal. Since the set of measures varies depending on the municipalities’ location, economic structure and volume of operations, the road map must outline a toolbox containing climate actions suitable for different situations. This is currently under preparation.

While the Pirkanmaa region is now taking its first steps towards carbon neutrality, we acknowledge that we have a long road ahead. It is essential that we promote climate targets in a positive manner and that we seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through encouraging measures, with an open eye to underlying opportunities for cost savings and innovation. An atmosphere of blame and intimidation is not conducive to positive change.

Marko Mäkinen, Manager, Regional Development Planning, Council of Tampere Region

The author is the presenting officer of the sub-committee on climate and the environment in the Pirkanmaa regional executive.
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