Sanna Kopra and the quest to understand China’s climate politics and Arctic agenda

Finnish China Law Center blog posted an interview with Sanna Kopra by Tatjaana Heikkinen. In the interview Sanna tells about her previous research on China, her current project and future plans.

Global warming and climate change is a topic that we see and hear about on a regular basis. When discussing climate change, it is impossible not to mention China. Sanna Kopra is a post-doctoral researcher in the Arctic Centre located in the University of Laplandand a visiting scholar in the Aleksanteri Institute located in the University of Helsinki and she has conducted extensive research into China in relation to climate change.

When asked about her 2018 highlights, her response is immediate: publishing her first book and receiving a grant from the Academy of Finland. 2019 has also started memorably, as she is spending the first couple of months on a research exchange at the University of Tromsø in Norway. “I hope to learn a lot about Arctic politics and I look forward to meeting new people. I also wish to see amazing scenery – despite the polar night!”

Learn more about Sanna Kopra at the Finnish China Law Center blog.

China’s great power climate responsibility and the Arctic

In a new text “China’s great power climate responsibility and the Arctic” for Arctic Relations blog, Sanna Kopra tells about her current research on the role China plays and wants to play in international climate politics, in relation to Arctic especially – the region where climate change progresses twice as fast as in other regions of the world:

In my ongoing project, I study how notions of great power (climate) responsibility direct China’s policies and practices in the Arctic region, among other topics.

For China, climate change is no doubt an important driver for engaging in Arctic affairs.For example, the melting of Arctic ice caps will increase haze pollution in Eastern China, cause flooding in many of its coastal mega-cities including Shanghai, Tianjin, and Hong Kong; and alter numerous natural global processes that may interrupt Chinese agricultural production.

Published in 2018, China’s Arctic white paper stresses the importance of scientific research on Arctic climate change and its global ramifications. Specifically, China is interested in learning more about the domestic (security) implications of Arctic climate change. When it comes to great power climate responsibility, however, China’s Arctic white paper is silent: it does not introduce any additional climate mitigation commitments or propose ambitious initiatives to address the problem – actions that would demonstrate a leadership role in international climate politics.

Read more about Sanna Kopra’s work on Arctic Relations blog.

Sohvi Kangasluoma for The Ulkopolitist

Sohvi Kangasluoma wrote an article for The Ulkopolitist online magazine with a title “Onko Suomesta feministisen arktisen ulkopolitiikan jäänsärkijäksi?” (Can Finland work as an icebreaker for a feminist Arctic policy?)

Sohvi Kangasluoma is a doctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki. In her doctoral dissertation she examines the Arctic oil and gas industry and its implications for human security through feminist theory. Her dissertation work is a part of AUCAM – “Opportunities for and challenges to urban development and social cohesion in Russia’s Arctic under climate change impacts” project.

In the article, Sohvi ponders whether Finland could pursue feminist Arctic policy, where  safeguarding the rights of minorities and respect  for environment are a precondition.The article can be read at The Ulkopolitist website.

China in the Arctic; and the Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese-Finnish Arctic Co-operation

A new report “China in the Arctic; and the Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese-Finnish Arctic Co-operation” by the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland has been published today. Our postdoctoral researcher Sanna Kopra has contributed to the study, which is a part of the publication series of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research.

The Arctic region is rapidly transforming from a peripheral region to a global theatre with an increasing number of non-Arctic stakeholders. One illustration of this transformation process is the growing presence of China in the Arctic. This report first discusses China’s changing role in global affairs (Chapter 1). This provides background for exploring China’s interests, role and presence in the Arctic. The study of China’s presence in the region is carried out through the lens of the Chinese government’s four priority areas towards the region as expressed in the country’s first official Arctic statement – the White Paper – from January 2018 (Chapter 2). Further, Chinese interests and actions in the Arctic are studied from the viewpoint of one particular Arctic State, Finland. The authors provide an overview of a broad spectrum of Chinese-Finnish interactions in different contexts, including investments in Northern Finland and co-operation within the areas of Finnish Arctic expertise and research. In addition, concerns and risks related to interaction with Chinese actors are discussed (Chapter 3). Over the past decade, China has undertaken an effort to demonstrate its growing knowledge of, and commitment to, the Arctic region. Some actors and experts are concerned about China’s aims and actions in the region, while others express hope for Chinese institutions, investors and companies to contribute to regional development and knowledge-building. The report presents a balanced and multifaceted, although necessarily not fully comprehensive, picture of China’s rise as an actor in the Arctic.

The report is available online.

Dmitry Yagodin in Berlin

This week our postdoctoral researcher Dmitry Yagodin is visiting Berlin, Germany. Today at the the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) there is an event “In conversation with… Dmitry Yagodin and Konstantin Kaminskij (Humboldt University of Berlin)”, which will discuss climate change discourse in Russia.

Climate change is a politicized issue in many countries. In Russia, the government denies the
anthropogenic causes of global warming, and is unwilling to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Unlike in most other countries, the Russian public discourse also highlights positive effects of
climate change. Dmitry Yagodin, Postdoc at the University of Helsinki’s Aleksanteri Institute,
has been studying the Russian climate discourse and traces the roots of climate change denial at the national and regional levels. In his current work, he focuses on the case of Yamal, the arctic region in northwest Siberia, where the flagship of Russia’s fossil fuel industry is built on frozen ground that is beginning to melt.

Tomorrow, on 13th of February, Dmitry Yagodin will give a talk titled “Climate Change Communication in Russia” at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. The event is part of “Ökologische Kulturen im (post)sowjetischen Raum” (Ecological cultures of (post)Soviet space) series. More information can be found here.

Ilmastonmuutos selviytymiskysymyksenä

Today Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen will be one of the debaters at the discussion forum  “Ilmastonmuutos selviytymiskysymyksenä” (climate change as a question of survival). The event is a part of talk series “Science meets elections”, organised before legislative elections 2019 in Finland. The forum will try to answer these questions:

  • Miten murros kohti hiilineutraaliutta voidaan saavuttaa? (How can change towards carbon neutrality be achieved?)
  • Miten Suomi varautuu kohtaamaan ilmastonmuutoksen aiheuttamia äkillisiä muutoksia taloudessa ja turvallisuudessa? (How does Finland prepare to face the sudden changes in the economy and security caused by climate change?

The event starts at 15 at Tiedekulma (Yliopistonkatu 3) and is open for everyone.

Recording of the discussion forum is available online.

More information

Policy Brief “The curbing of black carbon emissions offers many benefits for the Arctic”

Northern Dimension Institute Policy Brief 2 “The curbing of black carbon emissions offers many benefits for the Arctic” was published in January 2019. The policy brief is a result of the “Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and Climate Change in the European Arctic” that was organised on 19th of November in Brussels. Professor Tynkkynen was taking part in the Forum, where he gave a presentation “How to reduce black carbon emissions in Russia’s oil and gas industry?”.

Black carbon emissions are a global problem with special significance for arctic regions
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising clearly faster than the global average temperatures. The main reason are increasing amount of greenhouse gases, but black carbon, emitted from incomplete burning, contributes to the warming. It may cause some 20-25% of the warming in the Arctic, both through warming of the atmosphere and by accelerating melting due to reduced reflection of sunrays reaching ice and snow. Important sources of black carbon include transport, residential burning of coal and biomass, oil and gas flaring, and open burning of biomass from wildfires or the open burning of agricultural waste.
The health effects of black carbon emissions are significant. Black carbon is a component of the fine particles that have serious adverse health effects globally. The combined effects on the climate and health have motivated the Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership to pay special attention to ways of reducing emissions of black carbon. The actions to reduce emissions need to be replicated globally for the positive effects to take effect. Globally residential combustion and transport emissions dominate. In the Arctic region emissions from oil and gas production are also important.
The policy brief is now available online.

Karoliina Hurri’s blog entry for the website of Tiina and Antti Herlin foundation

Karoliina Hurri wrote a blog entry for the website of Tiina and Antti Herlin foundation about the Katowice Climate Change Conference, that she attended in December.

UN Climate Conference was held in Katowice, Poland, on 3–14. December 2018 The meeting provided the last opportunity for the parties to agree on the rules of the Paris Agreement. For the researcher of politics of global warming, the meeting provided a dream box seat at the core of the climate debate. The atmosphere in Katowice was optimistic but also pressing and slightly anguished.

The full version of report is available online in Finnish.