Author Archives: Elena Gorbacheva

The Dragon looks to the North: China’s growing role in the Arctic

Dr. Sanna Kopra wrote an article for the “Atlantic Community” titled “The Dragon looks to the North: China’s growing role in the Arctic”.

Due to new economic opportunities offered by the Arctic, many non-Arctic states have become interested in the region. Notably, China has begun to describe itself as a ‘near-Arctic state’ and renamed the series of planned Arctic shipping routes ‘the Polar Silk Road’. In June 2017, the Polar Silk Road was officially added to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and in January 2018, the Chinese government published its first, long-awaited Arctic strategy. This article reviews China’s Arctic engagement and briefly discusses the future of China’s regional role.

The article can be read online here.

“We need the reaction like there was a fire in the kitchen”

In June Karoliina Hurri attended UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany as part of the University of Helsinki delegation. She wrote a blog entry for Voices for Sustainability platform about her experience.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Ms. Patricia Espinosa presented this quote in the intersessional meeting, which took place in Bonn, Germany from 17-27 June in 2019. I attended the meeting in Bonn as a non-governmental observer as part of the delegation for University of Helsinki. Ms. Espinosa’s idea summarizes the atmosphere of the conference: we are in a hurry and we need to do more. We have a crisis called climate change that is influencing our own life, yet our response is not fast enough. If there would be a fire in the kitchen, how many of us would wait and watch our house burn? I have to believe that many would step up and take action.

Read full version of Hurri’s piece online.

“Energy materiality: A conceptual review of multi-disciplinary approaches” paper is out

Energy materiality: A conceptual review of multi-disciplinary approaches” paper, co-written by Margarita Balmaceda, Per Högselius, Corey Johnson, Heiko Pleines, Douglas Rogers, and Veli-Pekka and Tynkkynen has been published online. The paper will appear in the “Energy Research & Social Science October” issue.

This jointly authored essay reviews recent scholarship in the social sciences, broadly understood, that focuses on the materiality of energy. Although this work is extraordinarily diverse in its disciplinary and interdisciplinary influences and its theoretical and methodological commitments, we discern four areas of convergence and divergence that we term the locationsusesrelationalities, and analytical roles of energy materiality. We trace these convergences and divergences through five recent scholarly conversations: materiality as a constraint on actors’ behavior; historical energy systems; mobility, space and scale; discourse and power via energy materialities; and energy becoming material.

The article can be found online here.

Master’s Thesis “Kaupunki turvallisuuden kohteena: Tulevaisuusskenaarioita Euroopan turvallisuusympäristöstä vuonna 2040”

Last June Professor Tynkkynen was interviewed by Maria Malho from the University of Helsinki, for her Master’s Thesis “Kaupunki turvallisuuden kohteena: Tulevaisuusskenaarioita Euroopan turvallisuusympäristöstä vuonna 2040” (City as Referent Object of Security: Futures Scenarios of Europe’s Security Environment in 2040). This highly evaluated thesis can be found online. Additionally, you can read Maria Malho’s research on the topic in English at Demos Helsinki.

UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany

Our doctoral student Karoliina Hurri is participating in the UN Climate Change conference in Bonn, Germany, on the 1st week (17-22nd June) of it. She will be part of the University of Helsinki delegation as an Observer-NGO and will be observing the conference and collecting data for her first article about climate leadership.

After the Paris rulebook came out in COP24 in Katowice, Poland, SB50 meeting is more technical conference for building up the ambition and the action. It is an important step before the Climate Summit meeting in New York in September 2019  and before the COP25 conference in Chile in December 2019. One important theme is enhancing the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in a way that they would be in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade and to net zero emissions by 2050. The ambition of climate action and NDCs is the key to ensure that Paris Agreement is not meaningless.

It is possible to follow the conference online and through social media, more information is available here.

Sakari Höysniemi’s book recommendation

Our group not only produces research, but is also gladly recommending works of other experts to read. In the latest Yliopisto-lehti issue column “Tutkija suosittelee” (Researcher recommends), doctoral student Sakari Höysniemi is talking about Timothy Mitchell’s book “Carbon Democracy. Political Power in the Age of Oil” (Verso Books, 2011).

– A lot of things happen to oil before the gasoline niftily comes out at filling station. Carbon Democracy can and should be read, even if you do not know Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and Actor-network theory.

You can read the full issue online.

JIOS fall 2018 issue

Journal of International Organizations Studies Fall 2018 issue is now available online. Sanna Kopra wrote an article for the issue, titled “China and the UN Climate Regime: Climate Responsibility from an English School Perspective”.

This paper analyzes how states have negotiated, distributed, and contested responsibilities within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
It applies the English School (ES) theory and argues that climate responsibility constitutes
an emerging primary institution of international society. Due to its rising great power status, China plays an increasingly important role in social processes in which international
society defines and distributes states’ responsibilities, especially those of the great powers,
now and in the future. Therefore, this paper pays particular attention to China’s contribution
to the UNFCCC. Ultimately, the paper offers ES empirical observations about the relationship
between primary and secondary institutions as well as the role of agency in institutional change.

Read Kopra’s article online here.

ASEEES Summer Convention

Today starts ASEEES Summer Convention, organised at the University of Zagreb
in Croatia and our postdoctoral researcher Alla Bolotova takes part in it. First, Alla will be participating in the “Social Anthropology of Siberia and the North” roundtable.

The long-respected culture of Russian (and post-SU in general) traditional Siberian ethnography is today in some sense at war with the no-less respected culture of current social anthropology of Siberia. The purpose of the proposed Round Table is to discuss the issue. For this, we plan to present several recent projects in Siberian (“Northern”, Arctic) anthropology in order to show the potential of the region as an anthropological field, and the potential of social anthropology as a key to contemporary life in the region. Participants of the round table will present several case studies based on their current and completed projects in order to stimulate discussion of theoretical and practical relations between the two disciplines.

After that, Alla Bolotova will be a discussant at the “Informal Economics and Social Relations in Siberia” panel, where the researchers from the European University of St. Petersburg will be discussing the following issue:

The transition currently under way in Russia in general and in Siberia/Far North in particular can be described as a slow and difficult transition from a society based on discipline, guilt, and punishment to one based on initiative, law, and responsibility (Alain Ehrenberg). Informal aspects of human relations become extremely important: from ‘informal economics’, including poaching and other semi-legal and illegal activities that helps to compensate for inadequacies of the legal system, to personal relations that play a very important role in compensating for the inadequacies of foods and goods supplies. The panel will explore and discuss the issue on the basis of three social anthropological case studies from different regions of Siberia/Far North.

More information on the conference can be found online.

“Build­ing Green States? En­vir­on­mental Ca­pa­city in the Former So­viet Union” seminar with Dr. El­lie Martus

Today from 14:15 to 15:45 Dr. Ellie Martus will present her work at the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Research Seminar  in the Aleksanteri Institute 2nd floor meeting room, Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki). The event is chaired by Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. The seminar is titled “Build­ing Green States? En­vir­on­mental Ca­pa­city in the Former So­viet Union” and will be of interest to researchers of Environmental and Post-Soviet studies.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union,  all newly independent states have had to address a legacy of serious environmental degradation and undertake significant reforms, including designing and building new environmental institutions, or re-building existing ones. This research examines the concept of a state’s environmental capacity in the context of the former Soviet Union and the ability of states in the region to design, implement, and enforce effective environmental policy. Drawing on a series of interviews with NGOs, policymakers, experts, and industry representatives from across the region, and analysis of a range of original policy materials, my research focuses on four case studies: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. It investigates the obstacles that undermine a state’s ability to protect its environment and evaluates the opportunities for reform. More broadly, this research seeks to identify the variation and synergies that exist in environmental capacity across the post-Soviet space.

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen on Russian landfill protests and Ivan Golunov’s arrest

Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen participated yesterday in the Yle’s A-studio programme, where the topic of the discussion was “Venäjän kaatopaikkaprotestit haastavat poliittista järjestelmää” (Russian landfill protests challenge the political system).

Professor Tynkkynen and other guests – correspondent Marjo Näkki and secretary of the Finnish Section of Reporters without borders Jarmo Koponen, discussed, first, the arrest of Ivan Golunov, a prominent Russian journalist investigating and exposing corruption among Moscow officials, who wrote, among other things, about waste management problems in the region.

The central theme of the programme was Russian corruption in waste management, landfill crisis and the protests around it in Moscow and Arkhangelsk regions.

The topic was further developed in Yle’s article “Venäjän kaatopaikkaprotestit haastavat poliittista järjestelmää yhä suoremmin – mielenilmaukset ovat levinneet jo Putinin tukialueille” (Russian landfill protests increasingly challenge the political system – protests have spread to Putin’s strongholds).

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor in Russian Environmental Studies, Aleksanteri Institute, estimates that the protests are already threatening the establishment.

– The demonstrations in Moscow and Arkhangelsk are not just local protests, but through them they protest against the whole system. The fact that the whole system is based on the oligarchy. <…>

Environmental demonstrations are of particular interest because they had their own role in the break-up of the Soviet Union, reminds Associate Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. <….> In the early 1990s, environmental issues were one of the key themes of demonstrations, especially in the Baltic countries.

Like many other issues in Russia, the waste problem is facilitated by the corruption. According to Professor Tynkkynen,

<.. the waste business in Russia is a mafia corrupt activity, where the waste business is run by business conglomerates connected to local administration. They get good income from the municipalities but do not follow any standards. These practices are difficult to break even if Putin says something.

Full version of the article is available online.