First article of 2019 published

Our group’s publication year has officially started. The first article released this year is  ““Barely surviving on a pile of gold”: Arguing for the case of peat energy in 2010s Finland” by postdoctoral researcher Hanna Lempinen. The article is already available online and will be published in print in May’s volume of Energy Policy journal.

While the share of peat in Finland’s energy mix today amounts to only around 4%, peat recurrently returns to the center stage in Finnish energy-related public debates. As an indigenous energy resource, peat is a welcome addition to the energy mix of the heavily energy-dependent country. In addition, the employment impacts of peat production are considered significant. These benefits are, however, contradicted by the environmental impacts and climate emissions caused by peat energy. The conflicting interests revolving around peat have resulted in constantly shifting national peat policies as well as infrequent “explosions” of public and political debates on peat production. This article explores two of the most recent politicizations of peat through an empirical focus on the short-lived promotion campaigns that sparked widespread public debate: the 2010 “2 prosenttia” [2%] internet campaign from the state-majority-owned energy company VAPO and the 2017 “Turveinfo” [peat info] campaign launched by The Bioenergy Association of Finland. Through an analysis of the colorful and provocative promotion campaigns, this article (1) explores the arguments and rhetoric through which political support of peat is being acquired from the Finnish public and (2) examines what crises in the 2010s Finland peat is constructed as the (only) logical answer for.

Our research group wishes everybody Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hopes that a lot of quality research will be done this year.

Conference “The Chinese Way, The New Normal?” in Belgium

On 17th-18th of December Sanna Kopra is attending  Conference “The Chinese Way, The New Normal?” organised in Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Sanna presented her paper “Climate Responsibility under the Belt and Road Initiative” at the “China normsetting ambitions” panel on Monday, 17th of December.

More information on the event can be found here.

Karoliina Hurri’s and Sanna Kopra’s column at The Ulkopolitist.

Two  researchers from our team, Karoliina Hurri and Sanna Kopra, wrote a guest column for The Ulkopolitist titled “Puolan ilmastokokouksessa paljon pöydällä: Odottaako maailma Kiinalta liikaa?” (Much on the table at the Poland’s climate conference: does the world expect too much from China?).

From 3 to 14 October The United Nations Conference on Climate Change is organised in Poland, and it is expected to be the most important event after the Paris Climate Treaty. The Polish climate conference is the last chance to negotiate the rules of the Paris Agreement, because it will be implemented in 2020. One big question  for the Polish negotiations is which role that China will take. The world has started to hope that China will take the role of a new leader in international climate negotiations after the United States announced its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Both Karoliina and Sanna research interests are China’s Arctic policy and its role as a great power. Read their expert opinion on the conference online here.

Pohjoinen on punainen? : Kiina ja Arktiksen uusi alueellistuminen

Liisa Kauppila’s and Sanna Kopra’s article “Pohjoinen on punainen? : Kiina ja Arktiksen uusi alueellistuminen” (The High North is Red? China and New Regionalism in the Arctic) was published in November in Kosmopolis –  academic journal of Finnish Peace Research Association.

This article analyzes the role of China in the transformation of the Arctic from the theory of new regionalism point of view. It emphasizes that the Arctic is a socially constructed area that is defined by processes that are changing in the face of globalization and climate change. The article claims that, especially China’s rise to power transforms the dynamics of the northernmost parts of the globe and promotes both the discursive and material development of the so-called Asian and Arctic operational area. The article also briefly reflects on the wider political, economic and environmental impacts of this ongoing change in the Arctic.

The article can be downloaded online here.

ARKTIKO final seminar

These days, on 20th-21st of November, Arctic Academy Programme (ARKTIKO) has its final seminar “Arctic Research Leads to New Solutions” in Helsinki. Our team members involved in the “Assessing Intermediary Expertise in Cross-Border Arctic Energy Development” project – Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Hanna Lempinen and Hilma Salonen – are presenting the results of their 3-year work. During the project, the group has been researching Arctic Energy Futures, as energy is a top policy priority across the Arctic states. In Russia, the context of focus, Arctic is seen as a central natural resource base. The group’s topical focus was twofold: we concentrated on energy inequality, i.e. how resource riches are distributed and how vulnerable communities are (un)protected; and how renewables could promote socioeconomic development.

On 21st of November, Wednesday, Hanna Lempinen is presenting her research in a talk “Intermediary expertise and Arctic energy development: Science as a case study”.
Besides, during the both days Hilma Salonen’s and Alla Bolotova’s posters are presented at the poster sessions.

Hilma Salonen’s poster title is “Russian Arctic Energy transitions: links across an open space”. Within the project Hilma found that “transitions towards low-carbon systems in the Russian Arctic are represented by niche projects, but success depends on networks formed at a deeper structural level”.

Alla Bolotova is representing Wollie project at the seminar – while it is the final seminar of ARKTIKO,  Finnish-Russian joint projects continue the work. Her poster “Sense of place among youth in Russia’s Arctic cities”. The Wollie project has just started this year, so more finding will be available in the future.

More information on the seminar can be found on the Academy of Finland website.

Arctic Circle Assembly

From 19th to 21st of October 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly was taking place in Reykjavík, Iceland. Our research group was well represented there.

All in all, there were 2000 participants, and our doctoral student Sohvi Kangasluoma was one of them.

On 19th of October several researchers were introducing their works at the “Paving the Frozen Silk Road – Eastern Outlooks on Arctic Geopolitics and Socio-economic Development” panel, chaired by Sanna Kopra. Jussi Huotari talked about “Arctic LNG and global production networks (GPN)”. Liisa Kauppila and Sanna Kopra presented their work “China and Arctic Futures” and Hilma Salonen gave a presentation “Energy Deliveries in the Russian Arctic: Established Systems and New Networks”.

On 20th of October Hanna Lempinen was presenting her paper titled “Societal Aspects of Energy Security: Insights from the Euro-Arctic Region” at the panel “Human Security in the Barents Region”.

At the Assembly there were 600 presenters taking part in 120 sessions and we are delighted that our research group made a worthy contribution. More information on the conference can be found here.

Hanna Lempinen’s article on the societal dimensions of the Barents energyscape

Postdoctoral researcher Hanna Lempinen wrote an article “At the margins of the Barents energyscape” for the latest issue of Barents Studies. The issue covers topics around marginal phenomena, and Hanna’s article is focusing on societal dimensions of energy.

In political, popular, and scholarly debates, the Arctic – and most importantly within
it the Barents region – is portrayed as being on the brink of becoming the “world’s
new energy province”. Growth in global energy demand, dwindling reserves, political
instabilities at existing production sites, warming climate, as well as advancements
in extraction and transportation technologies are pushing energy activities further
towards the previously inaccessible north. In these framings, energy in the Arctic is
mostly understood as synonymous with oil and gas production for international exports
and as a concern of markets and politics, and of technology, science, and economics.
Exploring media representations of the regional energyscape through the “theory-methods
package” (Clarke 2015, 87) of situational analysis, this article highlights the
diversity of regional energy beyond oil and gas production; the simplistic manners in
which the societal dimensions of energy are understood; the absence of everyday life,
ordinary people, and the female gender from the depictions of the regional energyscape;
and the lack of attention to climate impacts of northern energy production.

This and other articles can be found online here.

Sanna Kopra’s post at E-International Relations

E-International Relations (E-IR) is the world’s leading open access website for students and scholars of international politics, published a blog post written by Sanna Kopra and titled “With Great Power Comes Great Climate Responsibility”.

In this post Sanna reflects upon her latest book China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change, and discusses what is the responsibility of the Great Powers these days, when the need for climate change mitigation is so urgent. Sanna Kopra concludes, that

Without ambitious great power leadership, international climate negotiations remain in gridlock. As an established great power, the United States must renew its great power leadership for climate change at once. If it does not live upon its special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, our chances to prevent dangerous climate change from happening look grim.

The full post is available online.

China and the “Wider” Eastern Europe conference

On 11th-12th of October the conference “China and the “Wider” Eastern Europe” at the Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. Before the conference a Doctoral workshop was organised on 10th of October, and our Doctoral Researcher Karoliina Hurri presented there her research plan “The Construction of China’s Role in Climate Negotiation Forums: A case of BASIC countries, BRICS group and the Arctic Council”.

Apart from Karoliina, Postdoctoral Researcher Sanna Kopra is taking part in the conference, and on Friday, 12th of October she is giving a talk “The Rise of China and Normative Transformation in the Arctic: A Research Plan” at the ““Wider” Eastern Europe and China” panel.

More information on the conference is available online here.

Sanna Kopra’s interview in Keskipohjanmaa

Finnish newspaper Keskipohjanmaa published an article “Kasvojaan hiilestä pesevä Kiina mielii ilmastojohtajaksi – ilmansaasteet vauhdittavat muutosta” (Washing its hands of coal China wants to be a climate leader – air pollution speeds up the change) with Sanna Kopra’s interview in it.

By reducing its own air pollution China could significantly reduce climate change in the Arctic, Kopra says.

In Chinese big cities such as Beijing, air quality is sometimes extremely bad.

Kopra estimates that China could combine through black carbon two interests: cutting black carbon emissions can not only improve the air quality domestically, but also affect the Arctic. In recent years, China has been increasingly interested in the region.

Over 60% of the black carbon emissions worldwide over half, about 60%, originate from Asia, especially from China and India. Even though soot is generated far from the polar ice, it can stay in the atmosphere from a few days to weeks and end up thousands of miles away.

This and other thought-provoking insights can be read in Finnish here. Additionally, the interview was also published in Turun Sanomat and Lapin Kansa.