Municipalities’ greenhouse gas emission scenario tool can now be used to assess the economic and health impacts of climate actions

News 2023-09-01 at 16:27

Modified version of the original text published 16 February 2023

The climate action impact assessment tool for municipalities developed by the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) can now be used to evaluate not only the emission impacts of planned climate actions, but also the actions’ economic and health impacts. Municipalities and regions can now utilise the tool in the assessment of climate actions. 

“Climate work is often seen as expenditure, particularly if you want to decrease emissions ahead of the rest of society. In reality, actions also have positive economic impacts. The tool helps in evaluating the impacts of actions on the health detriments caused by particulate matter, as well as on the regional economy in terms of investments and employment,” says Head of Unit Niko Karvosenoja from the Finnish Environment Institute. 

The population pressure in large cities especially requires the constant renewal of urban structure. The Buildings’ Energy Consumption section contains the current building stock’s energy efficiency and heating system renovations, as well as the energy efficiency and heating systems of new buildings, the cost levels of which have been defined for different building types. 

Regional economy impacts have been modelled for these actions, which can be reviewed in the tool through the investment and employment impacts caused by the action. 

A basic scenario describing emission development has been built into the tool for each municipality, which takes into account the plans created to support the implementation of national climate policy and the actions to be taken in them. With the tool, the user can create their own municipality-specific scenarios and evaluate the impacts of the desired additional actions on emissions, health detriment costs and the regional economy. 

Fine particle emissions a challenge especially in cities 

In the expanded tool, health detriment costs can be reviewed on the part of traffic and the small-scale burning of wood for additional heating. The user is presented with the PM2.5 emission tonnes resulting from actions, as well as the estimated health detriment costs in euros. The health detriment cost calculations are based on previous research on an air pollution damage cost model (the IHKU project) by Syke, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. 

Health detriment costs are determined through municipality-specific emissions and modelled population exposures. In terms of traffic, emissions contain both exhaust and road dust for different vehicle classes. With the tool, it is possible, for example, to demonstrate how actions to improve accessibility reduce the amount of cars and thus the health detriment costs caused by airborne fine particles in the area. 

For the small-scale wood burning, the tool looks at fine particle emissions that result from using wood for additional heating, which is simultaneously a factor that reduces the need for other heating. The impacts of the small-scale burning of wood on air quality are typically significant in dense urban areas consisting predominantly of small houses. The greenhouse gas emissions of small-scale wood burning are not taken into account in ALas calculations, where wood as a biofuel produces zero emissions. 

The Finnish Environment Institute has developed the scenario tool in the Municipal Climate Action Impact Assessment (KILTOVA) project. The tool supports the climate work and sustainability transformation of municipalities and regions. On the part of the KILTOVA preliminary survey, the work has been funded by the Ministry of the Environment, HSY, the Cities of Espoo, Helsinki, Oulu, Tampere, Turku and Vantaa, and the project has been funded by the Ministry of the Environment. 


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