The significance of municipal energy related actions when aiming at carbon neutral cities

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation discusses the implications of municipal energy-related actions in the generation of low carbon and carbon neutral cities. The purpose of the study is to examine the implications of these actions within the boundaries of scope 2 - 3 (according to the GHG Protocol) and from a consequential system implication perspective. This dissertation considers municipal energy systems to be energy systems which are located within the city boundaries, or within wider bounda- ries where municipalities may have an impact through ownership or similar arrangements. The energy sector convers electricity and heat supplies, thus excluding fuel supplies which are not related to the former. This dissertation consists of four peer-reviewed scientific journal papers. The research utilized a lifecycle approach to identify system implications together with single- and multiple case studies as well as semi-constructed interviews as research methods. Finnish cities and their energy systems were studied throughout the dissertation studies. It was identified that municipal energy related actions have a significantly higher importance and greater implications when the boundaries are extended from scope 1 of the GHG Protocol and the attributional life cycle assessment to scope 2 and 3 of the GHG Protocol together from a consequential life cycle assessment perspective. Generally, cities' role in scope 3 GHG emissions is significant. Even more so when marginal production implications are considered. These implications can lead to either significantly lower or higher system level GHG emission regardless even when the initial aim is to reduce GHG emissions. Examining the marginal energy system implications is a powerful method for cities to reduce their GHG emissions within the city and within wider boundaries. Examining such implications could be utilized to compensate for GHG emissions within sectors which find it more difficult to take actions to directly reduce their GHG emissions. Still the utilization and recognition of these implications together with their potential is seen to be lacking in carbon neutral city processes. Bettter understanding scope 2 and 3 system implications offer great potential for cities to reduce their GHG emissions within such boundaries as they aim to achieve low carbon and carbon neutral cities.
Translated title of the contributionKunnallisien energiajärjestelmien merkitys hiilineutraaleissa kaupungeissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Junnila, Seppo, Supervising Professor
  • Heinonen, Jukka, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0282-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0283-3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • carbon neutral city
  • life cycle assessment
  • energy systems


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