Helsingin kaupunki, kaupunkiympäristön toimiala

Study: Emissions restrictions would accelerate electric vehicle adoption in Helsinki


Achieving Helsinki's carbon neutrality target requires new, effective measures. Based on a new study, areas in which CO2 emissions are prohibited would be an effective method to reduce emissions from traffic in the city. To succeed, this proposal would require an extended transition period.

Photo: Roni Rekomaa

Traffic emissions are one of the greatest hurdles on the path to carbon neutrality in Helsinki, which is a target that the City Council has decreed must be met by 2030. This is why the City of Helsinki is tentatively looking into methods to reduce traffic emissions.

One of the most effective measures out of those assessed by the City so far are environmental zones, which would be implemented in phases. To reduce emissions, it would also be effective for the City of Helsinki to give up combustion engine cars starting in 2035.

The City of Helsinki commissioned a study from an Aalto University economics research group on what kinds of effects emissions restriction zones and a ban on emissions-generating cars would have on different car owners.

“Electric vehicle adoption in Helsinki is accelerating. According to the study, the adoption of electric vehicles at the current pace could rise up to 40 percent by 2030, and to 65 percent in 2035. Restrictions and strong guidance by the City could significantly accelerate the current development”, says Ville Lehmuskoski, executive director of the Urban Development Division.

Based on the Aalto study, environmental zones and a decision to transition to a CO2 emission-free vehicle fleet in 2035 are tools that would give citizens and businesses enough time to adapt to reducing traffic emissions. For this change to succeed, it would be important for the City to promote the development of EV charging station infrastructure and commit to the change sooner rather than later. This would encourage consumers to switch to electric vehicles.

“A long transition period would give citizens and businesses time to prepare for the change and enable the market to adapt”, says Aalto University professor Matti Liski.

Helsinki invites citizens and businesses to assess the solutions

This first report by Aalto University is the first one regarding the effects of possible measures to reduce traffic emissions, and cannot be used to draw conclusions on whether the measures are viable as a whole. The City will continue to assess the measures from the perspectives of accessibility, the environment, business and citizen groups in spring 2024. Official conclusions will be prepared and presented to political decision-makers during 2024.

In addition to vehicle emissions restrictions, the City is looking into other measures: the electrification of public maritime transport, promotion of walking and cycling, as well as the development of parking and the street network.

Congestion charges and similar regional solutions are not under active investigation, as the City of Helsinki cannot decide on these measures on its own, and rapid action is needed. It is, however, clear that the greater the emission reductions are on the regional and national level the fewer measures are required of Helsinki especially.

The City is also open to other ideas. There are plans to hear from both the citizens and businesses.

“All ideas for reducing traffic emissions are now welcome. The fact is, however, that all the easy ways have already been taken. It is important for the City that in the planning and implementation of the measures, the fairness of the transition for various citizens and businesses is taken into account”, says Ville Lehmuskoski.


Ville Lehmuskoski, executive director (Helsinki City Urban Environment Division)
Tel 09 310 37100

Reetta Putkonen, head of traffic and street planning
Tel 09 310 37079

Matti Liski, professor, economics
Aalto University
Tel 040 353 8173



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