The Arctic institute’s China Series, coordinated by Dr. Sanna Kopra, are approaching their end. In the last post, Kopra gives final remarks on China and its Arctic trajectories.
When we began to put together The Arctic Institute’s China series in the beginning of this year, little did we know about what was about to happen due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Today, it is not difficult to imagine that far-ranging consequences of the pandemic will reshape economic and political dynamics in the Arctic region. Will the pandemic constitute an exogenous shock that triggers fundamental change in international order, including the regional order in the Arctic? What kind of role will China play in the reconstruction of the Arctic economy and what are geopolitical and environmental consequences?
Today Forum for Environmental Information released a publication, based on the YHYS Policy dialogue 2020, that was held on the 25th of May. The publication is titled “Miten turvataan ruoka ja energia haavoittuvassa maailmassa?” (How to secure food and energy in a vulnerable world?).
We received the first taste of the vulnerability of food and energy systems with the corona crisis. The Spring 2020 Policy Dialogue sought ways how to produce food and energy sustainably well into the future, while at the same time better preparing for the threats of our time: pandemics, climate change, and security threats. Increasing self-sufficiency and local models are part of new, more sustainable food and energy systems. In order for complex systems to change, it is essential to make them understandable and to bring them closer to both policy makers and consumers.
Our Doctoral candidate Sakari Höysniemi, who participated in the discussion in May, also contributed to the publication.
“Even though the world of the future is more electronic, we need to think about how to electrify everything. I would like to see a reflection on the energy visions of transport, whether by changing the current car pool from oil to electricity, or whether by reducing the number of private cars at the same time. Public transport, walking and cycling are much more efficient modes of transport in terms of the use of natural resources than having every Finn move alone in their own car. ”
On the 29th of May, 21,000 m3 of diesel oil spilled in Russian town Norilsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai) from a fuel storage tank. Nornickel company claimed that the melting of permafrost on which the tank was built resulted in the accident. The oil contaminated an area of more than 350 square kilometres, including the Daldykan and the Ambarnaya rivers – one of the largest oil spill disasters in the world. For first 2 days after the spillage occurred, the authorities did not take any action before the mass and social media started to talk about the disaster. On the 3d of June, the accident was proclaimed a federal-level emergency.
This morning Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen gave his comments on the situation at the Ykkösaamu programme. To learn more about the disaster, listen to the discussion with Professor Tynkkynen and Kirsten Jörgensen, leading researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute, starting from 59:49 at Yle Areena.
On 18-21st of may the annual scientific conference “Polar readings 2020. History of science research in the Arctic and the Antarctic” took part online. It was devoted to the centenary of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg and to the bicentenary of the Antarctic exploration. Our project AUCAM was presented at the conference by Nikolai Bobylev with a presentation by him, Alexander Sergunin, and Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. The slides and main theses can be found from the conference website, and Bobylev’s can be watched on Youtube.
Today our Doctoral candidate Sakari Höysniemi participated in the event titled “Mistä ruoka pöytään ja energia piuhaan? YHYS Politiikkadialogi 2020” (Where do the food on the table and energy in cords come from? YHYS Policy dialogue 2020) on the 25th of May. The event was organised by the Forum for Environmental Information and was held online. Sakari participated in the second discussion of the event, where the participants talked about their perspectives on energy security and sustainable models of local economies.
A book review by Sebastian Losacker on Sanna Kopra’s book “China and great power responsibility for climate change” has been published this week in Eurasian Geography and Economics.
China is playing an increasingly important role in global politics and value chains. Against this background, it is not only the country’s power that is changing, but also its responsibility. This is particularly true for international climate policy, as China is not only the largest emitter of CO2, but an influential international player. At the same time, other nations such as the USA are currently assuming less and less responsibility. However, China continues to be an emerging economy in many areas and must reconcile this global responsibility with other goals such as poverty reduction and economic catching up. In her book China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change, which is based on her dissertation project, Sanna Kopra discusses the understanding of great powers and climate responsibility in the context of China’s current international climate policy engagement.
Losacker, in conclusion, states that “Altogether, Kopra manages not only to deepen the theoretical understanding of great power responsibility, she also provides important empirical insights on China’s international climate policy, marking the book as an important read for academics and policy practitioners alike“. The full version of the review can be read on the journal’s webpage.
Nadezhda Stepanova, invited researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, affiliated with our research group, co-wrote a text about the oil crisis 2020 and privatization of Rosneft as an unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The analytical essay is part of the Politics&Pandemics special series and is published at the ElMaRB project blog.
Some day in the future, economic historians will likely consider the dramatic decline of international oil prices, which occurred in March 2020, as a turning point in the development of the global petroleum industry. This collapse puts the end to the era of expansive oil, which began after the Iraq war of 2003. That era is over now as the global economy seems to return to a period of low oil prices, similar to the one at the end of the 20th century after 1986.
There are a lot of explanations for the collapse of oil prices in the business and academic literature. Some experts think that the coronavirus pandemic undermines the global demand for petroleum, while other economists suppose that the dissolution of the coalition of OPEC countries and Russia in March 2020 was responsible for the destruction of the previous oil price equilibrium at the international oil market. However, the question of why this collapse of the oil price equilibrium happened is no longer relevant. The questions scholars should focus on now are how the decrease in oil prices will impact the economies of oil-exporting countries in the world after the pandemic? What reaction to this crisis can we expect from the governments of oil-producing countries? Finally, what will happen to the Russian economy?
The oil crisis and the escalating oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia of 2020 might open intellectual debate on what is the best way of the organization of the petroleum industry in the conditions of low oil prices. What model of petroleum ownership is optimal for the economy in the new age of cheap oil prices? What will the reaction of the state to this problem be? Could we expect the mass privatizations of state-owned oil companies around the world? This essay is an attempt at addressing the problem.
Alla Bolotova, Post-doctoral researcher in the Wollie project, wrote an article for the new issue of Aleksanteri Insight. Aleksanteri Insight is a series of expert opinions, published by the Aleksanteri Institute quarterly and edited by Kaarina Aitamurto and Dmitry Yagodin. The latest issue of the series is titled “Living or Leaving? Youth and the liveability of single-industry towns in the Russian Arctic” and provides results of Alla Bolotova’s work within the Wollie project.
The article is available in both English and Finnish online.
Crashing oil prices are one of the most discussed topics these days, and many try to understand why does it happen and what are the effects. To Russia, that is largely dependent on high oil prices, the current situation is especially worrisome. The solid prices are the lowest in 20 years (and on Monday American WTI oil even had a negative price of -37 US dollars), and the ruble has been dropping for more than a month now, and the coronavirus outbreak does not help the economy either. Professor Tynkkynen has been approached by several media outlets to comment on the recent developments, and here we have collected his interviews.
Firstly, Professor Tynkkynen appeared today in the Ykkösaamu programme on Yle Radio 1, the interview starts at 52:41.
Secondly, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s comments can be read in today’s Kauppalehti article, titled “Kaoottinen öljymarkkina iskee rumasti” (The chaotic oil market lunges nastily). For instance, talking about Brent’s price decline, Professor Tynkkynen said
that oil will be bringing tax rubles to President Vladimir Putin’s government as long as the price remains above $ 15 a barrel. If the price falls below $ 15, the Russian economic crisis will worsen.
Thirdly, Professor Tynkkynen’s comments on Russian National Wealth Fund can be found in the MTV news. This fund accumulated extra oil and gas revenues for 12 years, now has more than 120 billion US dollars and in theory, can be used for supporting Russian citizens during these difficult times. However, as Professor Tynkkynen states
– There are significant buffer funds in Russia. It is a fact that in recent decades, public investment has not gone to the social and health sectors but to the energy sector and the construction of military equipment How Russia can take care of the well-being of its citizens is a big social question, Tynkkynen says.
If Russia’s social- and healthcare cannot withstand the corona pandemic, the people may be even more angry at their government.
– In recent days, there has been criticism of the Putin administration in the Russian media. Even in the media, which has been very sympathetic to the administration, there is criticism of the fact that in recent decades Russia has invested in supporting the fossil energy sector and building security and military equipment, and not in improving the social and health sectors, Tynkkynen says.
This year our Doctoral candidate Sohvi Kangasluoma together with her fellow PhD student Maija Greis started a blog “Through the Looking Glass“, where they bring to the light stories and experiences of women in Academia.
Today they published an inspiring interview with another Doctoral candidate from our research group Karoliina Hurri. Karoliina spoke about many important issues in her interview, ranging from how she got interested in her topic to what coronavirus crisis can teach us about climate change mitigation.
Read the interview in the “Through the Looking Glass” blog, and follow the project on Twitter and Instagram.