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City residents test mobility emissions trading in Lahti

News 2020-04-09 at 14:16
Winter cycling in the City of Lahti. © Visit Lahti/Lassi Häkkinen

As the first city in the world, Lahti began offering its residents the chance to test a personal mobility emissions trading scheme in autumn 2019. Emissions trading took place through a mobile application that identified the user’s mode of transport.

“The idea for a personal mobility emissions trading scheme emerged from cooperation between the sustainability science research group of LUT University and the City of Lahti. The project will help develop the sustainable urban transport programme in Lahti. In addition to the emissions trading application, we will create, for example, a safe bicycle route ensuring smooth traffic in accordance with good planning guidelines,” says Project Manager Anna Huttunen, the City of Lahti.

The personal mobility emissions trading scheme in Lahti is unique worldwide. The topic has been studied, for example in Great Britain and on Norfolk Island, Australia, but no practical applications have been produced in these studies.

Smartphone application identifies the mode of transport

The goal was to make the trial period as easy as possible for users. An application installed on the user’s smartphone uses location and acceleration data to identify the user’s mode of transport, that is, whether the user is travelling by bus, train, metro, passenger car, foot or bicycle. The application then calculates the corresponding carbon dioxide emissions and their price. Since phones usually follow their users everywhere they are extremely suitable tools for measuring mobility.

At the beginning of the test period, an individual emissions budget is determined for each user, based on, for example the user’s place of residence. For example, a user who lives far away from the city centre, with poor public transport connections, gets a larger emissions budget.

“There’s no real money involved in this version of emissions trading. At this stage, we just want to reward people for sustainable mobility choices. The application offers a marketplace, where users can buy city services, such as tickets to swimming pools, with the virtual money they collect from emissions reductions. Some local companies also offer discounts on their sustainable services,” says Huttunen.

The application calculates the full lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions of different modes of transport. The calculation has been optimised for the Lahti area, so it takes into account the special features of the city’s transport options, such as the average occupancy of buses and their sources of energy.

Making individual climate impacts visible

“The emissions trading scheme increases residents’ awareness of the climate impacts of their mobility choices in a very concrete way. The application indicates when you exceed your emissions budget and consume too much. I think the educational value of it is considerable. Residents can now take part in mitigating climate change and see that their choices make a difference,” says Huttunen.

Katja Suhonen, Public Transport Manager, has also tested the mobility emissions trading application. “I was interested in seeing how the application works and how it affects my own mobility,” she says.

“The application identifies different modes of transport surprisingly well and clearly indicates their carbon dioxide emissions. As yet, the application hasn’t changed my own choices all that much, since I already travel quite sustainably and don’t own a car. I have noticed, however, that whenever I travel by car, I am more aware of it,” Suhonen adds.

Emissions trading helps plan transport systems

The emissions trading application has already gained some 300 users. Their travel data are analysed at LUT University. The purpose is to study the functioning and logic of personal emissions trading – how the price of an emission reduction unit is determined, how users earn through emissions reductions and what motivates people to change their mobility behaviour. This information is also used to develop traffic services and systems.

“In the future, the application could be developed to allow users pay real money to compensate for their emissions, at least on a voluntary basis. The service could also be expanded to cover other fields of life, such as food choices and other consumption. This, of course, requires technological development of the system,” Huttunen muses.

After the test phase, plans are to continue the emissions trading scheme as part of the city’s climate actions. The goal is to solve technological issues identified during testing and to launch the application on a larger scale in spring 2020.

“For Lahti, the personal mobility emissions trading scheme has been a great, important initiative. We also want to tell other cities how our experiment has worked and spread the idea more widely. The most important result is that the participants have begun to put more thought into their mobility and the impacts of their choices,” Huttunen says.

The goal of the CitiCAP project is to test a personal mobility emissions trading scheme, build a new model for sustainable urban mobility, create a light platform for mobility data and build a smart bicycle route. The project is run by the City of Lahti, LUT University, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Lahti Region Development LADEC, and five companies: Mattersoft, Moprim, Infotripla, Good Sign and Future Dialog. The project receives its main funding from the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions initiative and it will run until the end of 2020.

More information

  • CitiCAP project
  • Project Manager Anna Huttunen, the City of Lahti, tel. +358 44 482 6176, firstaname.lastname@lahti.fi

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