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Finnish town offers locals cake (and other rewards) for cutting CO2 emissions

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A cyclist rides past in Lathi, Finland, on August 24, 2020
A cyclist rides past in Lathi, Finland, on August 24, 2020   -   Copyright  ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO / AFP
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A town in Finland is offering cake, free transport tickets and other rewards to locals who cut their carbon emissions.

Lahti, situated 100 kilometres north of Helsinki, has developed an app that tracks residents' CO2 outlays based on whether they travel by car, public transport, bike or on foot.

The app, called CitiCAP and developed with European Union funds, gives volunteers a weekly carbon quota.

If their allowance is not exhausted, participants get virtual money that can be used to buy bus tickets, access to the swimming pool or a piece of cake.

"You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low," said the project's research manager, Ville Uusitalo. “But this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO/AFP
Ville Uusitalo, assistant professor at Lahti university of technology, uses the "CitiCAP" appALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO/AFP

Currently, around 44% of trips in the city are considered sustainable.

The town, which is also the EU's 2021 Green Capital, aims to significantly reduce its environmental impact over the next ten years.

"Lahti is still very dependent on cars. Our goal is that by 2030 more than 50% of all trips will be made via sustainable means of transport," said the head of the project, Anna Huttunen.

On average, a resident Lahti — population 120,000 people — "emits the equivalent of 21 kilograms of CO2 per week", according to Uusitalo. The app challenges users to reduce their carbon emissions by a quarter.

So far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app, with up to 200 of them using it simultaneously.

CitiCAP's developers hope similar tools in the future will help people manage their consumption-related emissions.

"Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint," said Uusitalo.