Finnish town gives locals free cake if they cut their carbon footprint

A town in Finland has found a rather tasty incentive to encourage its inhabitants to cut down their carbon emissions: free cake.

Lahti, situated 100 kilometers north of Helsinki, has developed an app that tracks residents’ CO2 usages based on traveling by car, public transport, bike or walk.

The app, called CitiCAP and developed with European Union funds, gives volunteers a weekly carbon quota. If they come in under the quota, they get virtual money that can be used to buy bus tickets, access to the swimming pool, and yes, buy slices of cake.

“You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low,” said the project’s research manager, Ville Uusitalo. “But this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

On average, a resident Lahti – population 120,000 people – “emits the equivalent of 21 kilograms of CO2 per week”, according to Uusitalo. The app challenges users to reduce their carbon emissions by a quarter. So far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app, with up to 200 of them using it simultaneously.

CitiCAP’s developers hope similar tools in the future will help people manage their consumption-related emissions.

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