Towards climate neutrality – necessity or choice?

Climate actions have long been on the EU’s agenda. According to Charles Michel (2020), President of the European Council, the climate transition is no longer a question of choice, it is an absolute necessity. To bring sustainability and a circular nature to the EU economy, a holistic approach and everyone’s cooperation are a must in achieving carbon neutrality. Through concrete measures of the Green Deal, the European Commission thrives to reach climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 and become the first climate-neutral continent. The Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy, supports healthy and affordable food, promotes sustainability of products, services, and transportation as well as advocates clean and healthy air, water and soil, and biodiversity. The strategy’s goal is to achieve the objective through sustainable growth and green jobs creation while improving health and the well-being of its citizens. (European Commission 2022.)

A person in a white t-shirt and gloves holding a pot with a green plant and a sign stating save the planet.
Picture 1. A climate transition is no longer a question of choice, it is an absolute necessity. (Thirdman 2021)

Climate Work in Southern Finland

The role of universities of applied science is to promote regional development. Through various RDI projects related to sustainability, circular economy, or renewable energy and cooperation with diverse stakeholders and international partners, LAB University of Applied Sciences (LAB) has contributed to the transition towards a greener and climate-neutral economy. LAB is active in two regions in Southern Finland and furthermore in an online campus. 

Many steps and climate work have been already taken in both regions LAB campuses are located at. In the Päijät-Häme region, the City of Lahti received the status of the European Green Capital 2021 and Lappeenranta, South Karelia, won the title of the European Green Leaf Award 2021 (European Commission 2021). Besides that, both cities were selected as European pioneers in climate neutrality from among 362 EU applicants as part of the EU Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities. Altogether 100 cities under the Mission aim to accelerate their pace to become carbon neutral already by 2030 and become role models for others. In the case of Lahti, the goal of carbon neutrality is set already for 2025. (Green Lahti 2022.)

The EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is an initiative of local and regional governments committed to delivering and exceeding the EU climate and energy targets (Covenant of Mayors 2022a). Lahti is the winner of the 4th edition of the Covenant Award City in the Spotlight 2022 in the medium-size cities category for its impressive climate mitigation actions and Climate Partnership (Covenant of Mayors 2022b). The Climate Partnership is a free-of-charge and voluntary climate commitment of local businesses and communities, which is signed by the mayor. The City of Lahti collaborates with LAB University of Applied Sciences in promoting the initiative. (City of Lahti 2020.)

There is still a lot to be done in order to become a climate-neutral city, region, country or continent. Through collaboration and cooperation of all players, RDI activities, and knowledge exchange, this ambitious target can be reached.


Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences.


City of Lahti. 2020. Climate partnership. Climate Change. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

Covenant of Mayors. 2022a. Covenant initiative. Origins & development. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

Covenant of Mayors. 2022b. RePowerEU: the role of cities and regions in accelerating the energy transition to deliver on COP27 and the Paris Agreement goals – take aways. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

European Commission. 2021. Green cities: European Commission launches competition for next Green Capital and Green Leaf Winners. Environment. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

European Commission. 2022. A European Green Deal: Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

Green Lahti. 2022. Lahti Has Been Selected as One of Europe’s 100 Forerunner Cities. LAHTI – EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL 2021. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

Michel, C. 2020. Press speech. European Council. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at

Thirdman. 2021. A Person in White Gloves Holding a Pot of Green Plant. Pexels. Cited 27 Oct 2022. Available at