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Lahti nabs European green city award

The city's experiment with personal emissions trading caught the jury's attention.

Pyöräilijöitä rantaraitilla Lahden satamassa.
Ninety-nine percent of Lahti residents live within 300 metres of green urban areas. Image: Timo Vepsäläinen / Yle

Lahti is the first Finnish city to win the European Commission’s Green Capital Award, which the jury said went to the town for its environmental credibility. The title brought Lahti a 350,000-euro award for its environmental achievements.

“Lahti is particularly strong in the fields of air quality, waste, green growth, eco-innovation and governance,” the commission said in a statement.

The city of Lahti stopped using coal at the beginning of April and has spent 180 million euros on a bioenergy plant. The jury said Lahti—home to 120,000 people—has been a pioneer in air quality and has been dropping emissions since 1997. The city’s air quality regulations also impressed the judges, who noted that 99 percent of city residents live within 300 metres of green urban areas.

Personal emissions scheme

This fall Lahti—often associated with cross-country skiing and ski jumping—will launch a personal traffic emissions trading scheme for residents, according to the city. To participate, users download an app which tracks how they get around the city, with incentives possible for those favouring environmentally sustainable modes of transport.

Green cities—such as Lisbon—which won the award last year are “healthier and happier places for people to grow, live and work in,” the commission stated. The award for smaller cities went to the Irish city of Limerick and Belgian city of Mechelen.

This was Lahti’s third entry into the competition. As the 2021 winner, the city will have to foot the bill for a third of hosting costs, which are expected to rise to some nine million euros.

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