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Is this small Finnish city the ideal blueprint for a sustainable future?

March 23, 2023


By Thomas Newcombe
Global Product Marketing Manager

Finland is officially the happiest place to live in the world. That’s according to the  World Happiness Report, which has seen the Nordic country top the list for a sixth year in a row. The report cited nature and community as two of the biggest reasons that keep Finns smiling.

One of Finland’s cities that certainly incorporates both is Lahti. Known as the land of 1,000 lakes (it actually has 188,000), Lahti is located 1-hour drive from the Finnish capital Helsinki and is a pioneering city in environmental sustainability.

Winner of the European Green Capital Award in 2021, Lahti has many examples of its sustainable credentials and initiatives that drive behavioral change. It’s the first city in the world to pilot personal carbon trading – an app collects residents’ travel data then rewards them for making sustainable choices to reduce their carbon footprint. By choosing sustainable modes of transport the user earns virtual Euros that can be exchanged in local shops, bars and restaurants. It’s an important part of the wider goal of Lahti becoming a carbon neutral city by 2025.

All the city’s 120,000 residents live within 300 meters of green urban spaces and even its ice hockey team, Lahti Pelicans, are carbon-free - no air travel for away games and they utilize green energy at the stadium.

In its submission for the European Green Capital award, Lahti said the environmental success of the city wouldn’t have been possible without the passion and collaboration from the local community.

A team effort

It’s collaboration and desire from multiple groups that’s needed to continue delivering environmental change within business travel.

A study in late-2021 from rail technology operator Trainline Partner Solutions, found 66% of employees expect their employer to make sustainable travel options available. 7 in 10 employees (71%) stated businesses that do not offer sustainable business travel set a ‘bad example for future generations’, with one in five 16–24-year-olds saying they’d consider leaving their existing employer because of their business travel policy. The study also showed that 73% of employees would like employers to provide clear information about the impact of ‘required’ business travel. 

If companies still fail to act and introduce sustainable policies and ways to measure carbon emissions, then maybe governments will start baring their teeth and drive change like the French government at the end of 2022. France received permission by the European Commission to ban domestic flights where there is an alternative train service of less than two and a half hours.

A battle is still ongoing in the Netherlands where the Dutch government tried to ban all domestic flights between Amsterdam and Brussels (a key business travel route), but it’s currently upheld by EU regulation. In response they announced plans to cut back the number of flights at Schiphol Amsterdam airport as part of a policy aimed at reducing noise and air pollution.

A sustainable future requires less talk and more action. If we want to see positive change within our industry, then we must keep innovating and keep business travel at the forefront of driving environmental initiatives (and it will help keep us as happy as our Finnish friends).

MyCWT users in the UK can now book train journeys on myCWT web and mobile. And with the addition of carbon footprint indicators and emission estimates for train in myCWT, travelers are now able to make sustainable choices across all travel accommodations (flight, hotel, car and train) at the point of sale.


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