(words by Louise)
In December 2019, the BBC released a documentary that reported how a town in Finland (Ii) has cut its carbon emissions by over 80% (as opposed to 20% in the rest of Europe) and is 100% powered by renewable energy. The goal is that by 2025 the town will be totally waste free.
They started 7 years ago by deciding to lead the way rather than wait for the world to start making changes. Here’s how they’ve done it:
Ii stopping burning fossil fuels and have adopted wind, hydro, solar and geo-thermal power. They produce 10x more energy than they consume and sell the rest to the grid which generates E2m in revenue for the town. The land rented from farmers for the wind turbines also brings in a huge amount of money to the community.
Schools are given back 50% of the money they save from cutting down on electricity and heating.
There are only 2 supermarkets and so locally sourced food (hunting, fishing, growing) is still a dominant feature of the community.
Local Peatland is being restored to forest
5. Even in the snow, locals cycle everywhere
6. They are very mindful about food wastage and packaging
All generations in the town believe in it and the joint mission of tackling climate change has brought the community together. There are meetings to discuss initiatives that can be enacted throughout the community. For example:
They educate the very young and there are ‘energy agents’ in schools. The older children mentor the younger ones and educate them to make smaller decisions (such as turning off lights and measuring classroom heat levels) which add up to big change.
The elderly have made changes which is possibly the hardest area (‘it’s too late for me to make changes’ is something I often hear from the over 70s) and have benefitted from the community aspect of all doing something for the common good.
Local Peatland is being restored to forest to tackle climate change
Not all is rosy in Ii. There are proposals to introduce more wind turbines and many of the locals are concerned about ruining the natural environment around Ii. One of the main reasons for the concern is that the energy from the new turbines will go to those in south Finland, rather than supplying the local community. The locals do not know what the impact of the noise, lights and sheer size of the 300m high turbines will be on the community, countryside and their health.
Although it is commendable that two-thirds of the energy Ii needs are provided by hydro-electric power, there have been impacts on this fishing village. Salmon can no longer migrate up river due to the dams in the river. Ii is trying to rectify this with a Salmon breeding programme.
The town of Ii in Finland is 100% powered by renewable energy but there are issues with putting up too many wind turbines
What we found most inspiring about this documentary was the way that Ii has made numerous small changes that have added up to one big result in terms of tackling climate change and bonding the community. From checking light levels to see whether the school needed to have its lights on; to the community coming up with ideas such as ‘swap shop’ style markets for unused items and ‘not buying anything’ on Fridays. It’s so easy to feel that the climate crisis is too big to overcome when actually we can all do our part.
It takes 1 to start a revolution, the rest will follow!