“Arctic Energy and Social Sustainability” – New Book by Hanna Lempinen

Our postdoctoral researcher is publishing her new book “Arctic Energy and Social Sustainability”:

In recent years the Arctic has become the focus of political, popular and scholarly debates around the future of our world’s Energy. Increasing consumption, dwindling reserves, climate warming and developing technologies are expected to push energy-related activities ever further into the previously inaccessible north. Within this framework, energy in the Arctic is predominantly understood as synonymous with oil and gas production for international exports; meanwhile, any social sustainability concerns associated with energy-related developments remain largely neglected or reduced to regional socioeconomic concerns.
Lempinen adopts an alternative approach, exploring how energy and its societal aspects are defined and debated in the context of the circumpolar north. Combining an in-depth conceptual discussion on energy and the social dimension of sustainability with an empirical focus on the scientific and political “truths” produced about energy and society in the Arctic energyscape, this book is an enlightening read for students, scholars and professionals interested in issues related to energy and society in the Arctic or beyond.

The book is published by Palgrave Pivot and can be ordered from here.

New article “Finland’s Dependence on Russian Energy—Mutually Beneficial Trade Relations or an Energy Security Threat?”

New article “Finland’s Dependence on Russian Energy—Mutually Beneficial Trade Relations or an Energy Security Threat?” written by Jaakko J. Jääskeläinen, Sakari Höysniemi, Sanna Syri and Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen has been published today at Sustainability. The article is a part of the Winland‘s special issue “Enhancing Security, Sustainability and Resilience in Energy, Food and Water”.

Studies on energy security in the context of relations between European Union (EU) and Russia tend to focus on cases, with an open conflict related to supply, such as “hard” energy weapons, or on only one fuel, often natural gas. However, there is a need to understand the long-term impacts that energy relations have politically, economically and physically, and their linkages between resilience, sustainability and security. We analyse the Finnish-Russian energy relations as a case study, as they are characterised by a non-conflictual relationship. To assess this complex relationship, we apply the interdependence framework to analyse both the energy systems and energy strategies of Finland and Russia, and the energy security issues related to the notable import dependence on one supplier. Moreover, we analyse the plausible development of the energy trade between the countries in three different energy policy scenarios until 2040. The findings of the article shed light on how the trends in energy markets, climate change mitigation and broader societal and political trends could influence Russia’s energy trade relations with countries, such as Finland. Our analysis shows that Finland’s dependence on primary energy imports does not pose an acute energy security threat in terms of sheer supply, and the dependence is unlikely to worsen in the future. However, due to the difficulty in anticipating societal, political, and economic trends, there are possible developments that could affect Finland.

Two new doctoral students in our research group

This year our team has expended significantly – in addition to the new postdocs Alla and Dima, we also welcomed two doctoral students this summer, Karoliina Hurri and Sohvi Kangasluoma. Karollina is researching China’s geopolitical identity and climate change discourse in the global climate governance, and Sohvi is working in the AUCAM project. Let us introduce these two promising researchers to you.

Karoliina Hurri
Sohvi Kangasluoma




Interview with Karoliina and Sohvi

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Professor Tynkkynen’s visit to the US

These days professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is visiting the United States to attend the Arctic PIRE meeting at the George Washington University. Additionally, Professor Tynkkynen gave two lectures at the GWU – “Russia’s Hydrocarbon Culture in the Making” and “Arctic energy and the environment”.

Russia’s high economic and political dependence on oil and gas pushes the Putin regime to build a “hydrocarbon culture” to legitimize this very dependence. This construct seeks to convince Russians that, via hydrocarbons, Russia will be able to modernize domestically and expand its influence internationally, and therefore Russians should venerate energy and accept hydrocarbons as part of Russian identity. The lecture also discusses how this hydrocarbon culture links to the Arctic, Energy-Superpower discourse, energy as leverage in the domestic context, as well as Russia’s climate discourse.


Also Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen met with diplomats at the Finnish Embassy and gave a talk on EU-Russia energy relations at the US Department of State. According to Tynkkynen, there was a very interesting discussion, very responsive to his views: we need a common voice in EU’s energy policy to enhance energy security and promote responsibilities in energy trade and production.

Venäjän mysteeri Tiedekulmassa

Yesterday the researchers of the Aleksanteri Institute and the University of Helsinki organised an event “Venäjän mysteeri” (The Mystery of Russia). The event took place at Tiedekulma and was a part of Crazy World event series. The programme and information on the speakers can be found here.

The news on Russia are dominated by issues of security, sanctions and power politics,
but what happens in the everyday life of ordinary Russians? What is to live and go to school in Russia? What is the role of religion and how does the consumer culture shape values? Can people still protest in Russia or do they even want to do so?
The basis of Putin’s confusing popularity has been woven into the structures of Russian everyday life. Three short discussions open up a mystery from different actions.

Dmitry Yagodin from our team took part in the “Protest” discussion. Dmitry brought in his journalist’s perspective and spoke about the role of media in highlighting protests in Russia. He talked, for example, about Pussy Riot’s unexpected performance during the FIFA World Cup Final this July and how it was presented in the media. The researcher also stressed that for ordinary people in Russia it is difficult to understand what is actually happening in Russian society. The media are flooding with different and bogus information, which prevents a proper dialogue from starting.


Tiedekulma’s space was full of people interested to find out more about enigmatic Russia.When asked in the end if there is a Russian mystery that needs to be solved, Yagodin quipped, that there is, apparently. Russian people, still, like to be seen as a bit mysterious, even though Russia is in reality not a “special case” and there are many similarities between Finland and Russia.

Talk at Hiilitieto

Today Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen participated at the seminar, organised by Hiilitieto (Finnish Coal Info). Professor Tynkkynen gave a talk on the topic “Energy and Russia”.

Picture: Pekka Tiusanen

According to Tynkkynen, Russia’s energy is at the heart of doublespeak in Russia. The Russians are told how energy comes from the Mother Russia’s soil, the outside world is told that energy is a purely economic matter.

The presentation can be downloaded here.

Professor Tynkkynen’s interview published at Kauppalehti

Kauppalehti published today an interview with Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen titled “Kallistuva öljy tasapainottaa Venäjän valtiontaloutta ”Kansallista identiteettiä on rakennettu energiavaurauden varaan”” (Rising oil prices balance Russian state economy “National identity has been built on energy resources”)

Picture: Svetlana Aleksejeva

According to the Finnish researcher, Russia’s national identity is built on energy and the army. “Energy is thus a geopolitical tool.”

The price of crude oil has doubled since the bottom-ups of a couple of years ago. It is still lagging behind the peak level of 2011-2014, but the $ 80 barrel price is beginning to be historically at a reasonable level.

In terms of Russian national economy, the rise in oil is a happy thing. Exports from the sale of energy resources are in dollars, and as a result of the heavily devaluated ruble, the oil price per barrel is now the highest ever.

The Russian government, which has been struggling with deficit budgets over the last few years, can respite at least for a while: further debt can now be avoided. The stock prices of oil companies, such as Rosneft and private Lukoil, have also risen.

Associate Professor in Russian Environmental Studies Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen from the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki says that the rise in crude oil prices is good news for Russia – at least in the short term.

“A couple of years ago, Russia agreed with the OPEC countries to reduce oil production. The purpose of the measure was to steer up the price trend and to this end, the countries have succeeded,” Tynkkynen estimates.

“The Russian dilemma is that energy exports are the driving force of the economy and on the other hand, the government’s goal is to get rid of energy dependence.”

The full article is available in Finnish online here.

And another news piece was published at Kauppalehti today titled “Suoraa puhetta Aleksanteri-instituutista” (Direct speech from the Aleksanteri Institute). In this article, Martti Kiuru writes:

The real power is concentrated in Russia in the hands of a small elite.

Associate Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen sarcastically descibes Russia as a “great power of hydrocarbon culture”.

Read the full piece from the newspaper’s website.

Two new postdocs in our research team

This summer two new postdoctoral researchers have joined our Research group on the Russian environment. Alla Bolotova is taking part in the Wollie project, and Dmitry Yagodin researches the role of journalism and media in climate change discourse in Russia. We are delighted that these two excellent experts became a valuable addition to our group and would like to introduce them to you.



Alla and Dmitry, in their own words

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Ydin overview of the panel discussion on great power responsibility for climate change

Ydin magazine published an article “Kuka kantaa vastuun ilmastosta?” (Who bears the responsibility for the climate?) about the book launch and panel discussion that took place on 7th of August at Tiedekulma.

China has begun to regard itself as a great power and perhaps as a leader in relation to climate change – as long as the economy does not suffer. At the same time, the old great powers Russia and the US seem to map out emission reductions. Experts discussed in Helsinki what does the great power responsibility for climate change mean in practice.

The article provides a good summary of the discussion and can be read in Finnish here.

New Finnish-Japanese Arctic Studies Program

A new Finnish-Japanese Arctic Studies Programme aiming at strengthening  the cooperation in Arctic research and education between Finnish and Japanese universities has been established by the University of Lapland. The project is led by Research Professor Kamrul Hossain from the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland in cooperation with Associate Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen from the University of Helsinki, Docent Ritva Kylli from the University of Oulu and Professors Sei-Ichi Saitoh and Juha Saunavaara from the Hokkaido University.

The project aims at establishing a network of scholars and advanced-level under-graduate and postgraduate students interested in Arctic studies from multidisciplinary and multidimensional perspectives. In its endeavor, the project will undertake education and research on issues related to Arctic social sciences and law. Project members will meet several times both in Japan and in Finland during 2018–2019. The activities within the project include e.g. joint seminar, summer school and guest lectures. Out of total budget of 65,000 euro, the Ministry of Education of Finland granted 50,000 euro for the successful implementation of the project.

More information.