Land use – Mitigation
In terms of climate change mitigation in Finland, the continuing decentralisation of the social structure creates a problem.
Decentralisation of the social structure forms a problem
The greenhouse gas emissions caused by heating of buildings and traffic is crucially influenced by the structure of communities. Nowadays, the most trips take place between the home and recreational sites and home and shopping and business sites. For example, centralising trade to large units outside town centres leads to long shopping trips requiring the use of a private car. A third notable travel type are the trips between the home and workplace.
When the residential areas are located at the fringes of the working areas and sparsely populated areas in particular, this increases the greenhouse gas emissions caused by traffic, heating of buildings and technical management networks. It has been estimated that sparsely populated areas consume 60% more energy than population centres.
Construction should be aimed in the vicinity of existing traffic and technical maintenance networks so that distances to workplaces and services would remain as short as possible. To achieve a sound and tight social structure, the current legislative means to direct and promote the implementation of construction should be used effectively.
Harmonising, strategic level planning is required
Land policy and community planning should be based on harmonising planning on a strategic level. In this, land use structural models and traffic systems create a functioning and energy-efficient social structure. Concurrently with the planning the placement of functions (trade, recreation, work) in new areas, a traffic network should be planned that is based on public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
In addition, all those means should be studied in cooperation to notably reduce the share of sparsely populated areas in growing city regions from the current level.