Practices and Policies for Carbon Neutrality : Energy Transition in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-4510-9
Title: Practices and Policies for Carbon Neutrality : Energy Transition in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Author: Dahal, Karna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018-10-19
Language: en
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-4510-9
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/243250
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: Energy transition is the process of transforming currently used fossil fuel based energy practices to low carbon emissions producing clean and renewable energy utilization practices. Low carbon energy transition to carbon neutrality, a multi-faceted process, aims to reduce carbon emissions, which also helps to create a balanced relationship between social, economic, and environmental concerns. It needs a robust, transparent and accurate emissions accounting method to measure carbon emissions periodically that provides cities a basis to scrutinize their climate activities and carbon emission rates. The role of local actors such as cities in low carbon energy transition to carbon neutrality is vital since the world’s cities consume 64% of global primary energy and produce more than 70 % of global anthropogenic carbon emissions. I study the contemporary practices and policies for energy transition to carbon neutrality in the Helsinki Metropolitan area as a case to demonstrate how local level climate and energy strategies, as well as corresponding activities, are vital to reducing carbon emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation. Although cities generate major emissions, they can also provide many opportunities to adopt various energy and climate policy measures such as renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency improvements to significantly reduce carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. Their climate and energy strategies can turn into effective measures to significantly reduce carbon emissions. This dissertation employs the combination of comparative and case study methods, including both qualitative and quantitative data, to advance a holistic understanding of carbon neutrality. I analyzed empirical material collected from various administrative and research organizations and online database systems in four case cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan area and two other Nordic capitals, employing concepts and several analytical frameworks. The applied concepts, selected analytical frameworks, data used, and geographical context of the research have both benefits and limitations. Although the theoretical concept of carbon neutrality varies depending on the context of environmental solutions, I emphasize the applied concept of carbon neutrality in this dissertation as a guide for cities to act upon their environmental solutions to global warming and climate change in relation to activities towards carbon emission reduction in their jurisdictional boundaries. Research results in this dissertation are expected to be a support for adopting carbon neutrality at the local level in terms of energy-based carbon emissions reduction activities. My results also alert cities to adopt a transparent, consistent, and inclusive carbon accounting method. Knowledge produced in this dissertation can be applied in the decision-making processes of public administrations and practised at the local level for the establishment of a carbon neutral society. It also helps to advance our knowledge of carbon neutrality.
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