Low-carbon approach in structural fund projects

In accordance with the EU decision, Finland is committed to substantially reducing its carbon emissions in the next few decades.  As part of the process towards a low-carbon society, technologies and products are being developed that promote the shift towards cleaner production methods and generate business based on these new technologies. When different development activities and in particular investments are carried out so that they result in lower carbon emissions, they can also be considered low-carbon processes. These activities receive substantial assistance in the form of structural funding.

The low-carbon economy is the new theme during the new structural fund programming period. It will make more efficient energy use and the promotion of renewable energy as key programme areas. Even though the low-carbon approach is closely connected with sustainable development, its purpose is to concretise the occasionally loose concept of sustainable development and make it more functional and precise.

Structural fund projects promoting the low-carbon approach play an important role in the implementation of the programme. They are located on the first and second priority axis, which means that the theme must be closely examined in projects supporting enterprises, irrespective of whether they are development projects carried out by the enterprises themselves or more general development projects supporting the enterprises' operating environments and other areas.

In the programming period 2014-2020, a total of 25 per cent of the ERDF funding will be directed at low-carbon activities. A low-carbon society can only become reality if there are structural changes, new operating approaches and models, product development, investments and development of multi-sectoral expertise.  There is new business potential, particularly in energy and material efficiency. New and expanding business opportunities offer the chance to create new jobs.

As the low-carbon approach is a new target in a structural fund programme, good projects or practices have not been selected as sample projects in the same way as in many other activities receiving financing through structural funds. Good low-carbon projects have been carried out in such areas as cleantech and sustainable development.

A good low-carbon project has an implementation model laying out what the low-carbon approach concerns and aims to concretise the target by selecting an investment or implementation model that will bring about a substantial reduction in the carbon balance, compared with other implementation models. Such a carefully considered choice should be highlighted in the application in an itemised manner. It also makes it more likely that the project application is approved.