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Lowering emissions from transportation in the city of Lappeenranta (Finland)

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Laura Lakanen
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One of our main goals to face the climate change and to preserve the environment is lowering emissions from transportation. In this study about the city of Lappeenranta, we analyse the climate policies related to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, with the purpose to gain better air quality (less PM and NOx emissions), and to increase well-being of city residents.

According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the emissions are divided into Scopes 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse (GHG) emissions, that occur from sources, which are controlled or owned by an organization (e.g., emissions associated with fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, vehicles). Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. As other European cities following the EU regulations, Lappeenranta has committed to becoming carbon neutral and reducing CO2-emissions by 80% by the year 2030. The transportation sector’s share of the Scope 2 emissions is now almost 50% of the city’s total emissions.
In the transportation sector there have been only modest reductions in CO2-emissions and the current national and EU policies are not effective enough to achieve local CO2 reduction targets. Besides, current policies do not necessarily treat citizens equally and do not reach the well-being objectives of the city. The shortcomings of the current national policies are supposed to be address by proposed local PAMs.
In this sense, a key role is played by the municipality (public transportation services, transportation/logistics service companies) and the local waste management company (EKJH Oy), involving important subjects as logistic and transportation service companies, private car owners, university and companies offering products/services related to charging infrastructure. But also housing associations, government agencies and municipality (procurement services, city planning), estate managers, media and green reality community.

In this context, the foremost objective of the case study was to assess two national policies - distribution mandate and financial support for installing charging points - and to suggest local policies and measures (PAMs) that could facilitate the transition towards zero-carbon transportation. At the same time, together with a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, our focus was also to reach socio-economic equity, whose evaluation has conducted in a subsequent phase.

To realize our goals, we used Carbon handprint and Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) as methods. Carbon Handprint is used to assess potential beneficial climate impacts of the PAMs and SLCA is proposed for assessing the social impacts of the implemented policies. Both methods are originally developed for assessing impacts of the products and services. Carbon handprint allows comparison of different offerings from the climate perspective, and it also enables assessment of positive climate impacts of projects and regions. Thus, it has several purposes for use. The approach can be used widely to compare different options from a climate perspective and to identify improvement potential and development needs of products and services from a climate point of view. In addition, it is a useful tool in supporting decision-making both in political and customer contexts. It may also help to plan climate beneficial projects and climate actions, for example, when implemented by cities. SLCA is effective if used for assessing potential and actual social and socio-economic impacts in decision-making, to improve the social performance and the well-being of stakeholders. Given these premises, SLCA can be utilized to examine various social indicators. In this study, it was applied to assess the social impacts of policy measures by testing a reference scale method for the policy context. The study included a news review and data for two selected indicators were acquired from databases. For eight other social indicators, data were collected via a survey for which 498 replies were received. Anyway, we have to say that we found challenging to adapt the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) guideline to the case study. Our concerned indicators are not common in already existing literature, neither in Impact pathway or Reference scale methods. Therefore, we needed to develop some of the indicators and also appropriate reference scales for them.

As already mentioned, according to the study findings, existing policy measures do not treat citizens equally, but rather show disparities among different income groups and residential areas. The study also indicates that PHEV (e.g. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) owners are more satisfied with their mobility costs, and they feel they are treated fairly enough by the government. Based on the study results, three specific local policy recommendations were formulated to address the identified deficiencies in current policies. These local policy measures are to be evaluated in the ex-ante phase of the study:

1 - The installation of charging infrastructures in municipal properties;
2 - Public charging stations aimed at leveling disparities in regional and socio-economic structures;
3 - The mandate of the city of Lappeenranta to use electric or biogas-powered vehicles (buses, school shuttles) in procurement processes.

Having achieved these results, while waiting for further phases of our study, we believe necessary to understand how the shortcomings of the current policies can be addressed in local future PAMs as effectively as possible, both in Lappeenranta and in other areas.