Helsinki seeks innovative heating solutions to fight global warming

Two thirds of the world’s energy is consumed in cities. Because bioenergy has several limitations, innovation is needed to help cities decarbonise their heating systems, says the Mayor of Helsinki – a city that is now inviting innovators to test sustainable solutions.

Helsinki aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 and over half of its carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, highlights Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, in a blog for the World Economic Forum.

However, biomass is not the answer to cutting these CO2 emissions. “Biomass is only theoretically free from carbon dioxide emissions, as its emissions are equivalent to those of coal when measured from chimneys. In addition, the extensive use of biomass can have negative consequences on biodiversity,” explains the Mayor in his blog post.

He continues that in order to reach our carbon-neutrality goals, radical new solutions are needed in cities around the world. This is why Helsinki has launched the Helsinki Energy Challenge. It seeks to decarbonise heating in Helsinki, using as little biomass as possible, by inviting innovators from around the world to test 100% sustainable solutions for urban heating.

“The idea of a city as a testbed is fundamental to my strategy, as Mayor, of making Helsinki the most functional city in the world. We are in uncharted territory which comes with its risks, but the urgency of climate action justifies bold decision-making,” writes the Mayor.

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