Category Archives: 2020

Coronavirus, Russia and declining oil prices

While all the world is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the oil market is not an exception. The prices have been plummeting since March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia engaged in the oil price war. YLE tried to explain what is going on now with the oil market and published an article “Pandemia iski myös öljymarkkinoille: Sekoitti Venäjän ja Saudi-Arabian hintasodan kortit” (The pandemic hit also the oil market: Shuffled Russian and Saudi price war cards). Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen commented on the issue for the article:

So is there a solution to the price war in the midst of the coronavirus crisis?

– Time will show it. We have seen the co-operation between Opec and Russia in recent years, says Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor in Russian Environmental Studies at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.

He believes that Russia is at a disadvantegous position in this contention.

– If we look at the drop in the price of oil, Russia’s Urals brand has decline the most. With this price of oil, Saudi Arabia is still able to generate profits for itself, unlike Russia, where production costs are starting to be higher than the current barrel price for Urals brand.

Read this and other insights in the article online.

Karoliina Hurri got 2-year funding

Today the good news came that our PhD student Karoliina Hurri was awarded a two-year funding from Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation. The Foundation support research aimed at solving pressing environmental issues. In January they opened a call for continuation grants for researchers who had received the funding previously, and

The goal of the application cycle is to continue to offer research data to support public debate and decisions, and the foundation seeks to find more solutions to the most alarming changes in the climate as well as creating more ways of preventing them in the future, both at the individual and society level.

Karoliina Hurri got the one-year grant in 2018 and 2019 to work on her dissertation “The Construction of China’s Leadership Role in Climate Politics”, and we are very happy that she received now two more years of funding. Congratulations, Karoliina, and keep up the great work!

E-book “Chinese Policy and Presence in the Arctic” is published

An electronic version of the book co-edited by Professor Timo Koivurova and our team member Dr. Sanna Kopra has been published. The book is titled “Chinese Policy and Presence in the Arctic”  and offers a comprehensive account of China’s evolving interests, policies, and strategies in the Arctic region.

Despite its lack of geography north of the Arctic Circle, China’s presence in the High North is expected to grow in the coming years, which, in turn, is likely to speed up globalization in the region. This book brings together experts on China and the Arctic, each chapter contributing to a detailed overview of China’s diplomatic, economic, environmental, scientific and strategic presence in the Arctic and its influence on regional affairs. The book is of interest to students, scholars and those dealing with China’s foreign policy and Arctic affairs.

Apart from co-editing the volume, Sanna Kopra also co-wrote several chapters: “Introduction to China’s Arctic Engagement”, “China’s Arctic Policy”, “China’s Economic Presence in the Arctic: Realities, Expectations and Concerns”, “Conclusion: China’s Policy and Presence in the Arctic”, and “China, Climate Change and the Arctic Environment”. Our doctoral candidate, Karoliina Hurri, also participated in co-writing the latter one.

Get the e-version or order a hardback copy online.

China and its Arctic Trajectories: The Arctic Institute’s China Series 2020

The Arctic Institute has started its new China Series:

China’s Arctic engagement has increased considerably during the past decade, which has not only offered plentiful economic opportunities but also created new risks and concerns among the eight Arctic states, non-state actors, and peoples. To increase understanding of dimensions of Beijing’s Arctic activities, The Arctic Institute’s new China series probes into China’s evolving Arctic interests, policies, and strategies, and analyses their ramifications for the region (and beyond). Over the coming weeks, we will publish numerous articles and commentaries elaborating on the political, economic, environmental, and social dimensions of China’s Arctic involvement.

In the first article, Dr. Sanna Kopra provides a brief overview of the history of China and its Arctic policy, current economic activities in the area, and what does this engagement means for the environment and the future of the region.

The forthcoming articles of The Arctic Institute’s new China series do their bit in facilitating such cooperation by increasing understanding of the political, economic, and environmental dimensions of China’s Arctic engagement. Together, the articles will offer a comprehensive account of China’s policies and interests in the Arctic – highly recommended reading if we are to enhance international cooperation and secure a resilient future in the region.

Read the first article and follow the whole series at the Arctic Institute website.

Discussion at Oodi

Yesterday in Oodi library was held a panel discussion on environmental activism in Russia “Citizens, authorities, and waste management in Russia”, organised by Suomi-Venäjä Seura. The seminar addressed current environmental issues related to waste management from the perspective of activists and researchers. Pavel Andreev, chief editor of the 7×7 online media outlet, PhD candidate Elena Gorbacheva, and Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen participated In the discussion, chaired by Satu Hassi, Finnish MP from the Green Party. The video recording of the event is available below:

And an edited version of the discussion:

Venäjä raottaa ovea yhteistyölle Opecin kanssa – hintasodassa liennytyksen merkkejä

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen provided comments on the recent oil price collapse due to the Opec deal collapse for the article titled “Venäjä raottaa ovea yhteistyölle Opecin kanssa – hintasodassa liennytyksen merkkejä” (Russia is opening the door to cooperation with OPEC – signs of détente in the price war).

The oil price war that started over the weekend showed signs of easing on Tuesday, as Russia announced its readiness to resume cooperation with Opec, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki, who researches Russia’s energy policy, estimates that Russia’s decision to secede production cuts may be based on Russia’s desire to show its power to Opec.

Although Russia has blustered to cope with low oil prices for years, its economy is still completely dependent on oil.

The article is published in Keskisuomalainen and can be read online.

New energy trends in the Russian Arctic: Could Russia lead the way in becoming a climate leader?

Our doctoral candidates Hilma Salonen and Sohvi Kangasluoma wrote together an article titled “New energy trends in the Russian Arctic: Could Russia lead the way in becoming a climate leader?” for the Baltic Rim Economies journal.

As the global climate movement has expanded, as well as the effects of climate change have become more visible, it is becoming rather evident that no country can overlook the implications of climate change. Even as Russia’s focus in the National action plan focuses on the adaptation to climate change and prepares to reap the benefits of the opening Northern Sea Route, some observers point out that Russia continues to have all the potential (renewable energy resources, skilled workforce) to become a forerunner in action against climate change. Investing in decentralized, smaller-scale projects would not necessarily entail economic losses or less international prestige. This direction seems rather unlikely in the context of the current fossil fuel regime, and there is no reason for heedless optimism. However, it will be interesting to see how the objective to adapt to climate change without making radical changes in the current socio-economic system will hold in the future.

The article was published today and can be read online.

Challenges and opportunities of the Arctic region: Launch of new scientific report

Today the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis  IIASA presented a new scientific analysis of the Arctic – a region on the front lines of climate change, geopolitics, and global governance.

The report, Arctic Policies and Strategies, is written by IIASA alumni Lassi Heininen, Karen Everett, Barbora Padrtova, and Anni Reissell, and analyses 56 key policy documents to identify trends in Arctic governance and geopolitics. It considers how different Arctic actors define and address issues around the human dimension, governance, environmental protection, climate change, safety, economy, and science. The report was produced as part of the IIASA Arctic Futures Initiative and was co-funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and IIASA.

Doctor Sanna Kopra, alongside Ambassador (emeritus) Aleksi Härkönen and Professor Alexander Sergunin, provided comments on the report, after Professor Lassi Heininen presented the work.

More information on the event can be found here.

Review of “The Energy of Russia. Hydrocarbon Culture and Climate Change”

Talouselämä published a review on Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s latest book “The Energy of Russia. Hydrocarbon Culture and Climate Change”. The review, titled “Kirjat: Onko Venäjällä toivoa muutoksesta? Energia on Putinin samettinen rautahanska” (Books: Is there hope for change in Russia? Energy is Putin’s velvet iron glove), is written by Matti Kankare and is available for Talouselämä subscribers.

Kirkenes conference

Today Dr. Sanna Kopra participates in the Kirkenes Conference in the “A Changing World” panel, where the topic of the discussion is “China as a driver: Opportunities and challenges”.

One recent big and timely trend we want to shed light on is themed as ‘A Changing Worldview’. We are starting with China, which is driving a changing worldview in the North and the Barents region; changes that bring both new opportunities, but also some challenges.