Canemure Days included discussions on the importance of regional climate work and effective communication of its results

News 2023-12-08 at 15:46

At the Canemure Days in late summer on 16 and 17 August 2023, the latest results of the climate work of municipalities and regions were heard and climate communication was discussed. The consortium meeting held in the heart of Helsinki involved 40 participants from Canemure's subprojects and regional coordination groups.

The Canemure Days were opened by the project leader Jyri Seppälä. In his speech, Seppälä focused on the current political environment of climate change mitigation. Although the societal and health crises of recent years have drawn our attention elsewhere, climate change has not gone away. Finland is still far from the EU's emission targets, and there is plenty to do, especially in terms of the land use sector and transport. Canemure, however, has shown progress in advancing practical climate action. It is important that the work done in the project is replicated all over.

Project manager and Head of Unit Laura Saikku presented calculations and tools created for the use of municipalities and regions in Canemure. Municipalities' usage-based climate emissions have been published since 2020. Consumption-based emissions for all Finnish municipalities were calculated for the first time in 2023. Various calculations have been developed for forestry, solar power and the restaurant industry. The information and tools have all been compiled for free use on the website.

Municipalities and regions are developing solutions for low-carbon production, consumption, mobility and construction

On the first day, the subprojects and regions presented where they are going in their climate actions and possible preliminary results.

In Lahti, several different residential buildings have undergone energy renovations, the energy efficiency and impacts on carbon emissions of which have been closely monitored. The costs of energy renovations have also been under review.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland has studied ways to reduce emissions from agriculture and forestry in peatlands. Emissions from drained peatland forests can be reduced by, for example, testing out paludiculture or continuous cover forestry.

The Lappeenranta, Porvoo, Rauma, Helsinki and Lauttasaari subprojects are developing solutions for low-carbon production and consumption, as well as energy production. The subprojects have been progressing at a rapid pace. In Lappeenranta, testing of a new technology heat battery will begin in the district heating network in the autumn of 2023. In the Rauma shipyard area, a new smart monitoring system for the use of water, compressed air and gas will be introduced in early 2024.

The Helsinki subproject has explored how the city can take climate issues into account when making procurements, and is next planning to share the lessons learned with other municipalities.

Both Porvoo and Lauttasaari have developed ways to inspire residents to take climate action together. It was noted in the joint discussion that residents are often motivated by the cost and well-being impacts of climate actions.

Climate road maps have been prepared in support of climate work in the Canemure regions, and the achievement of the set climate targets has been monitored. Regional councils have also invited small municipalities to participate in climate work and supported their projects.

Low-carbon transport is being promoted in the Tampere, Uusikaupunki and Turku subprojects. Two subprojects are operating in Tampere, one of which has developed a regional car fleet model, which will also be supplemented with other modes of transport during the final project. The other subproject in Tampere focuses on improving the opportunities of city residents to use public transport instead of simply driving. In the summer, for example, the subproject implemented a public transport summer campaign to increase leisure travel during the summer months. Uusikaupunki, in turn, has succeeded in promoting the use of electric and biogas cars. The subproject provides municipality residents with information on charging points for electric cars and develops models for their placement and procurement.

The city of Turku, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the subproject of the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries (CFCI) are producing new information for the use of urban planning and construction. For example, the Turku subproject has identified areas in the urban environment where afforestation is possible. So far, 22 sites have been identified, the afforestation of which will begin in the autumn. The subproject led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute also focuses on urban planning. The guide to climate-sustainable urban planning created by the subproject will be published at the beginning of 2024.

The last presentation of the first day was given to the subproject of the CFCI, which is studying the potential of concrete structures as a carbon sink. In the subproject, the ability of concrete aggregates to absorb carbon dioxide has been measured. The results so far have been promising and will be communicated next year.

Climate communication must highlight system-level solutions

The second day of the Canemure Days was devoted entirely to introductions and discussions about communication. The purpose of strategic communication is to increase the effectiveness of subprojects and the results of work carried out in the regions. During the morning, we heard speeches from communication and advocacy experts and discussed the subprojects and regions' own communication plans.

Laura Kotila, Communications Specialist at the Ministry of the Environment, gave an overview of the changing operating environment for climate communications. According to a climate barometer published in spring 2023, people's concern for the climate has diminished. The challenge of climate communication is, for example, the division of public debate and people's fatigue in blaming individuals. The solution to this is to emphasise cooperation, interaction and system-level solutions in communications.

Senior Specialist Karoliina Auvinen and Maija Töyry, Docent of Media Research, gave tips for effective communications. Both speeches highlighted the importance of knowledge of the target group. Auvinen emphasised that influencing must be targeted at decision-makers when the desired topic is on the decision-maker's desk. Töyry stated that, as media changes, our capacity to receive new information will decrease further. Therefore, knowing the target group to help find the right channels and form of communication is even more important than before.

Jenni Rahkonen from the City of Lahti presented the communication plan of her subproject as inspiration for others. The Lahti communication plan has focused on clarifying the core messages targeted at different target groups in order to ensure effective communication. Thorough groundwork is also important when planning communications, as it facilitates the implementation of practical communication measures.

On the afternoon of the second day, we heard greetings from a journalist and social media influencer to the experts of the project. Hufvudstadsbladet journalist Peter Buchert gave practical tips for reaching the media, and social media influencer Noora Shingler spoke about the opportunities of influencer cooperation. In their speeches, both Shingler and Buchert stressed that, because a journalist and a social media influencer know their audience, their expertise is useful in explaining difficult topics for larger audiences.

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