Canemure Best Practices: Solutions to key challenges in municipal climate work

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Climate work has been enhanced in Hinku municipalities by sufficient allocation of resources, utilisation of expert information, commitment of municipal actors and engagement of external stakeholders, among others.

More than one-fifth of Finland’s municipalities have joined the Hinku network, a group of forerunner municipalities in climate change mitigation.

Towards carbon neutral municipalities

Solutions to key challenges in municipal climate work ▼▼ The

network provides expert and peer support, offering solutions to the climate work challenges experienced in municipalities.

▼▼ Management

level commitment, deployment of climate work across the municipal organisation, direct climate budgeting and adequate human resources are important for the success of climate work.

▼▼ Joint

projects and additional recruitment can alleviate acute needs in concrete climate work.

▼▼ Impact

can be increased by engaging external actors in climate action.


Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities and Regions


The role of municipalities in climate work Cities and municipalities have a major role in reducing emissions. Many municipalities have set ambitious emission reduction targets for their climate work and drawn up plans and strategies (Järvelä & Turunen 2019). In practice, municipal emission reductions are made, for example, through direct investments of municipal organisations, various steering mechanisms and the involvement of stakeholders, often supported by separate projects.

Climate work in municipal networks Municipalities are supported in many different ways in reaching their climate goals. Municipal climate networks, for instance, help spread information and lessons on good emission reduction measures (Rashidi & Patt 2018, Hoppe et al. 2016, Boehnke et al. 2019). Network accelerated climate work can also have an impact on emissions: the emissions of Hinku municipalities are on average 3.1 per cent lower solely as a result of joining the Hinku network (Riekkinen et al. 2020).

From aims to action through organised climate work Hinku municipalities are aiming to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent from 2007 levels by 2030. Climate work is organised in these municipalities by appointing a working group that plans climate work as well as a contact person who promotes communication and practical work. Together, they catalyse investments alongside engaging and facilitating cooperation between sectors and different actors.

Proven solutions to key challenges of municipal climate work Hinku municipalities have found solutions to many common challenges of climate work, relating to e.g. the lack of time, human and financial resources, the access to and utilisation of accurate and reliable information, the implementation of concrete measures, as well as the engagement of various actors in climate work. A qualitative study (Riekkinen et al. 2020) interviewed representatives of Hinku municipalities (40) that had joined the network before 2019. Participants were asked, among other things, about the challenges and successes of climate work.





Hinku membership has an average emissionreducing effect of about 3 % for municipalities!

Resources One of the biggest challenges in municipalities is the lack of resources. No money is available in municipalities for implementing climate action, and often both the lack of time and prioritisation of work tasks pose challenges. Organisational and personnel changes make work more difficult and there might not be enough know-how to select cost-effective climate measures. Money

▼▼ Allocation

of an annual budget for Hinku actions, sustainability and/or climate work (Laitila, Rauma, Hamina). Then each investment does not require a separate justification and approval.

Time, motivation

▼▼ Hiring


▼▼ Concrete

an additional employee or other human resources as extra help. For example, a trainee and an engineer overseeing the municipal Energy Efficiency Agreement (Lempäälä) or an external part-time consultant shared between municipalities (Hamina/Kotka) can bring significant alleviation. support for practical work from additional and regional joint projects.






Knowledge and information There are several challenges relating to the availability and lack of information. It can be difficult to find information on the most effective climate measures, as well as on the practical implementation and profitability of the measures. Poor information flow within the organisation can act as an obstacle to the implementation of climate actions. Some municipalities have struggled with external communication on the importance of climate work and municipal actions. Lack, overflow and interpretation of information

▼▼ Utilisation

of information gathered by expert organisations. Many actors have comprehensive information on the costs, profitability, technical implementation, climate impacts and effectiveness of implemented and alternative measures.

Technical information on concrete measures

▼▼ Asking

Information flow and communications

▼▼ Sharing

Internal communications

▼▼ Hinku

External communications

▼▼ Cooperating

Media visibility

▼▼ Utilising

for advice from neighbouring or Hinku municipalities. of the website for good practices.

▼▼ Utilisation

tips and questions relating to climate work e.g. through a WhatsApp group. Applying this idea to create an information exchange group for municipal employees or Hinku contact persons.

contact person visiting various working groups, keeping climate issues on the agenda (Lappeenranta). ▼▼ Using a project to implement climate work across the organisation (Lempäälä). with communications experts from e.g. SYKE, especially at the early stages of climate work and in overcoming any potential hurdles. ▼▼ Creating a unique brand for the municipality’s climate work (Greenreality Lappeenranta, Climate Joensuu). Hinku network membership by e.g. mentioning it in external communications. visibility to municipal climate work by installing solar panels in visible places, for instance. Communicating climate actions e.g. through electric cars branded with the municipality’s sustainability related imagery.

▼▼ Bringing




Commitment and engagement The aim of Hinku climate work is to cover the municipality’s activities extensively, including many of the municipality’s climate work sectors and different groups of actors. However, the management of climate work may still be at an early stage of development in some municipalities. There might be challenges in municipal employees’ appreciation towards climate work in general. Despite commitments to an ambitious goal, there can also be challenges in political decision-making. Decision-makers may not want to make investments with a payback period that exceeds the term of office. External stakeholder engagement has also proved to be a challenge among many Hinku municipalities.


The municipal organisation

▼▼ Management

level commitment, and sharing the responsibilities of climate work across the municipal organisation. ▼▼ A separate project or action plan to implement climate work cross-sectorally (Lempäälä). ▼▼ In internal workshops, the importance of climate work can be justified, and discussions sparked about what Hinku and climate work looks like exactly in everyone’s own job (Rauma). ▼▼ Emphasising the economic aspects of climate work facilitates the approval of investments, especially if data on the savings of measures has been collected and presented in euros (Ii, Rauma, Hämeenkyrö). ▼▼ A Hinku contact person with sufficient interest and power to take things forward.


▼▼ Communication

and leading by example encourage action: it is worth communicating and highlighting the opportunities and benefits of as well as support available for climate actions. ▼▼ Involving local residents and/or young people as participants in the Hinku/climate working groups (Mynämäki, Hamina). ▼▼ Citizen enagement is important e.g. in the implementation of wind power projects: thoroughly presented background work and the involvement of residents have helped to obtain a social license for the wind power project compared to traditional communications (Pyhäjärvi). ▼▼ Through zoning, the municipality has the opportunity to influence the activities of the residents also.







▼▼ Local

entrepreneurs can be activated through various events, such as morning coffee meetings organised by the municipality (Pori). ▼▼ Companies can be directly involved in the Hinku/climate working group. ▼▼ Municipalities can set up their own Hinku/climate partnership networks for local companies (Porvoo, Pori, Lappeenranta, Joensuu, Rauma). ▼▼ It is important to remind companies of the economic viability of and export opportunities related to climate measures, as well as of possible subsidies available to companies. ▼▼ Zoning has been seen to have a direct and significant impact on the operations of companies. ▼▼ The municipality’s role as an active communicator of the latest research and financial information to stakeholders helps them stay up-to-date on various incentives and new good practices relating to climate work.

Technical measures In the interviews, technical challenges or obstacles to climate work implementation were mentioned less often than the aforementioned challenges. These challenges do exist, for example relating to energy efficiency investments. Uncertainties related to the condition of buildings (age, indoor air problems) and their future use has been perceived as a challenge. In mobility, a sparse charging network can act as a barrier to the proliferation of alternative fuel vehicles. Energy efficiency

▼▼ Making

energy efficiency investments while renovating or refurbishing a building to extend its useful life. With the right kind of planning and expert help, risks can be minimised.

Electric vehicles and charging

▼▼ Adding

charging points for electric cars in e.g. municipal buildings. Increasing the number of biogas stations will also contribute to the spreading of alternative fuel vehicles.

Lessons learned According to our study, municipalities most likely to succeed in climate work are those that from Hinku for have been successful in the following, among others: goal-oriented ▼▼ Municipal climate work is visible as a significant part of the municipality’s strategy (also publicly). action ▼▼ Climate work has been implemented and taken responsibility for across the municipal organisation. ▼▼ Sufficient human resources have been allocated for climate work. ▼▼ An annual budget has been allocated for climate work. ▼▼ External stakeholders, such as companies, young people and various groups and associations have also been activated and involved in climate work. ▼▼ First aid for acute challenges has been found in separate projects and recruitments. ▼▼ Emission reduction work has included monitoring of savings and results, as well as sharing of successes and failures openly. ▼▼ Network strength has been harnessed: municipalities have exchanged ideas and experiences with stakeholders and other municipalities, and they have boldly made use of the help and services provided by expert organisations such as SYKE. Canemure best practices 4/11/2020: Towards carbon neutral municipalities. Solutions to the most important climate work challenges in municipalities Authors: Venla Riekkinen and Laura Saikku, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE References: Boehnke, R. F., Hoppe, T., Brezet, H. & Blok, K. 2019. Good practices in local climate mitigation action by small and medium-sized cities; exploring meaning, implementation and linkage to actual lowering of carbon emissions in thirteen municipalities in The Netherlands. Journal of Cleaner Production 207, 630-644. Hoppe, T., Van der Vegt, A. & Stegmaier, P. 2016. Presenting a Framework to Analyze Local Climate Policy and Action in Small and Medium-Sized Cities. Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 847; Järvelä, M. & Turunen, A. 2019. Kansalaisten ja yhteisöjen ilmastotoimet. Suomen ilmastopaneeli. Raportti 8/2019. uploads/2019/10/KANSALAISTEN-JA-YHTEISÖJEN-ILMASTOTOIMET_final.pdf Rashidi, K. & Patt, A. 2018. Subsistence over symbolism: the role of transnational municipal networks on cities’ climate policy innovation and adoption. Mitig. Adapt. Strategies Glob. Change, 23 (4) (2018), pp. 507-523 Riekkinen et al. 2020. Kohti hiilineutraalia kuntaa: ilmastoverkoston vaikutus kunnan ilmastotyöhön ja päästöihin. Suomen ympäristökeskuksen raportteja 20/2020. ISBN 978-952-11-5170-5 Cover picture: AdobeStock Map of Hinku municipalities 4/11/2020. Basemap: National land survey of Finland, Statistics Finland, 2019. Layout: Satu Turtiainen, SYKE Helsinki 10/2020 ISBN 978-952-11-5358-7 (PDF) ISBN 978-952-11-5357-0 (print)

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LIFE17 IPC/FI/000002 LIFE-IP CANEMURE-FINLAND This best practices -brochure has been carried out with the financial contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union. The best practices -brochure reflects only the CANEMURE project’s view, and the EASME/Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.