Urban consumer carbon handprint

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation


As we enter the 2020s, anthropogenic climate change remains one of the largest global environmental issues we face. As the consequent impacts have become more and more evident with increasing number of extreme weather events, droughts and wildfires the call for action increases. As such, many ambitious targets for carbon neutrality and even negativity have been set by international, national and local governing bodies.
Even though cities themselves are not hotspots for greenhouse gas emissions, the final consumption of their residents is accountable for the majority of global production and transportation related emissions. This has been studied extensively in the related scientific literature and numerous policy recommendations have been made to reduce the consumption based carbon footprints of cities and their residents. However, until recently the carbon sink capacity of urban environment has received relatively little attention in this field. This is particularly true for the quantitative ‘carbon handprints’ of urban consumers, which refers to the carbon sequestration and storage resulting from their individual choices and actions.
In our review we analyse existing literature on urban environment’s carbon sequestration and storage and discuss its implications on individual consumer’s carbon handprint potential. Based on our initial results the most current potential for enhancing the quantitative carbon handprints of urban residents would lie in voluntary actions improving the total carbon sequestration and storage capacity of trees, vegetation and soils as well as favouring wooden construction materials and buildings in the real-estate market. Due to uncertainties in technology readiness and feasibility advanced technological solutions for individual carbon capture and storage were ruled out of the analysis but they too may present substantial options for quantitative carbon handprint improvement in the future.
We conclude that carbon handprint enhancing actions are necessary for individual urban consumers to offset their pronounced consumption based emissions and to meet the carbon neutrality targets. However, as valuation for carbon sequestration and storage and climate mitigation as an ecosystem service appears to be relatively low, external incentives and related policy making are likely needed to motivate private consumers to take action.
Period26 May 2021
Event titleOpen Bioeconomy Week
Event typeConference
LocationHämeenlinna, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational