Category Archives: Event

Hydrocarbon culture in the making – Energy, culture & identity in Russia

Today Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is giving a talk ” Hydrocarbon culture in the making  Energy, culture & identity in Russia” at the faculty’s seminar: Impact of the Humanities on Science and Society at University of Helsinki, Language Centre, room 115,  14:00-14:20.
The seminar is part of the Scientific Advisory Board visit to the Faculty. The theme of the seminar gathers together approaches such as reaching out of the academia, engaging with natural and technical sciences as well as other sciences, mutual impacts on one another, and so on. The seminar is open to the whole Faculty.

Workshop on Climate Change in the Soviet Union and Russia organised in Moscow

On 25-26th of April “Climate Change in the Soviet Union and Russia: Approaches and Debates in Science, Society, and Politics, 1960s-2010s” workshop is organised in Moscow by the German Historical Institute Moscow. Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is taking part in it, presenting his and Dmitry Yagodin’s paper “Regionalization of climate policies in Russia – local reality meets the national climate-denial narrative”.

Despite the Soviet Union’s role as a Super Power during the Cold War period and Russia ́s size
and geopolitical importance today, still relatively little is known about how the country’s
government, scientists and people have dealt with and responded to natural/anthropogenic
climate change. This interdisciplinary workshop thus aims to understand how attitudes towards
climate change in the Soviet Union/Russia have evolved over time and simultaneously been
shaped by various actors.

More information is available online.

Science Media International Forum

Tomorrow our postdoctoral researcher Dmitry Yagodin will be taking part in a round table discussion “Арктика в фокусе медиа” (Arctic in the media focus) at St. Petersburg State University, Russia. Event is a part of Science Media International Forum “Media in Today’s World. St. Petersburg readings”.

At the round table the questions of “Arctic as a sphere of interest of many states: cooperation and conflicts” and “Representation of the topic of Arctic territories exploration” in the world mass media” will be discussed. More information about the round table can be found here.

Sakari Höysniemi on Winland’s ending seminar

The ending seminar of From Failand to Winland project was held on Wednesday in Finlandia hall in a conference room full of crowd. Project’s participants from our group, doctoral candidate Sakari Höysniemi and Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen attended the seminar, professor Tynkkynen also took part in the peaker at the “Tutkimuksen yhteiskehittäminen ja tutkimuksella vaikuttaminen” (Collaborative research and research influencing) panel. Sakari Höysniemi shares his experience of working in the Winland project and attending its final seminar.

The project has explored during the last two and a half years Finland’s future food, water, and energy security. The work was governed by Water and Development research group from Aalto University’s School of Engineering under energetic, supportive and multidisciplinary leadership of Marko Keskinen and Suvi Sojamo. I reckon the project would not have been as successful as it was without the multidisciplinary experience of the two that also influenced other consortium partners to cooperate not only in workshops and seminars, but also in actual research. I haven’t seen too many projects where environmental engineer and pedagogic researcher or political scientist, geographer and energy engineer would write an article together.

The work was divided into seven different subprojects of which my work was dedicated mostly to Energy policy subproject under the head of Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, where we looked at how energy security is being envisioned both in Finland and in Russia and what kind vulnerabilities, interdependencies or risks may emerge but also what possibilities and opportunities there are to improve our current situation.

One of our key results thus far is that although around 63 percent of Finland’s energy exports come from Russia (oil, natural gas, coal, uranium and biomass) such dependence does not bring an acute energy security threat if we understand energy security in techno-economic terms as security of energy supply in exceptional situations. In such situation any of the mentioned energy form could be purchased elsewhere. However, according to social scientific research on energy it is a lifeblood of our societies and it influences societal development in any temporal context. In ordinary situation Finland or Finnish companies would not stop purchasing energy from Russia, as their production or supply chain is optimised for Russian energy, that is it would be more expensive to shift permanently to another supplier. The latter understanding gets often neglected in Finnish public debate. It is, however, relevant to take this perspective into account in the anticipation of needed sustainability transition, as incumbent regime actors are likely to resist change.

Furthermore, Finland’s internal energy security arrangements are likely to be reassembled. For instance, wind power has become the cheapest form of electricity, and its perception has transformed from threat to electricity system to enabler of increased self-sufficiency that still needs mechanisms to accommodate its volatility. This also likely to change actor landscape to include more and smaller scale actors that can make governance of security of energy supply more complex.

Although we already had the final seminar our work is still continuing until the end of this year. Also, a master’s student, Lauri Lähteenmäki will contribute to the subproject as he currently work on master’s thesis on Yamal LNG project that will as a case study improve our understanding of the relationship between energy security and energy transition in the context liquified natural gas.

More information on the seminar can be found on Winland’s website and blog entry.

Lecture “Energy, Climate Change & Comprehensive Security in the EU-Russia-US relations” today at the Metropolitan University Prague

Today Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is giving a lecture “Energy, Climate Change & Comprehensive Security in the EU-Russia-US relations” at the Metropolitan University Prague, Czech Republic.

Energy security is typically understood as either security of supply (“EU perspective”) or security of demand (“Russian perspective”). The lecture will discuss future relations between the EU, Russia as well as the USA via the prisms of spatialities, geoeconomics and commodity chains of different energy sources in the EU – Russia energy constellation. Changing global climate is the contextual factor that compels to incorporate the perspective of comprehensive security into the traditional energy-security considerations, but it also opens avenues for mutually beneficial foreign relations. The lecture ponders possibilities to move from the asymmetric “energy as a weapon” perspective to a symmetric “energy as a tie“.

Structure of the lecture:

  • Energy security perspectives in EU – Russia energy trade (EU, Russia, USA)
  • Spatialities of energy and societal development
  • Climate change and comprehensive security
  • Promoting responsibilities along energy commodity chains via symmetric energy relations
  • Certified flows of energy enhance mutually beneficial (energy) futures and foreign relations

More information is available at the University’s website.

ISA’s 60th Annual Convention

Today, on 29th of March, Sanna Kopra took part in the “Take Me to Your Leader(s)! International Society and the Problem Of Leadership in a Fragmenting World” panel at the ISA’s 60th Annual Convention, held in Toronto, Canada. She presented a paper “Great Power Climate Leadership”.


Learn more about the conference at its website.

Hiilitieto ry, Kolfakta rf:n talviseminaari

Yesterday Hiilitieto ry and Kolfakta rf winter seminar was organised in Helsinki. The seminar concentrated on the issues of energy transition, waste incineration, banning coal, Energy and Russia, energy consumption during winter and other topics. Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen gave a talk on Energy and Russia, the slides of the presentation can be found online.

Alla Bolotova’s field trip to Kovdor

From 17th of February to 2nd of March this year our postdoctoral researcher Alla Bolotova was on her second field trip within the Wollie project to Kovdor. Kovdor is a small industrial town with 16 thousand inhabitants, located in Murmansk Oblast of Russia, some 20 kilometres away to the East from the Finnish border. Previous fieldwork was conducted in an urban-type settlement Revda, which is also in Murmansk Oblast, but this trip was a special one – Alla Bolotova herself was born and grew up in Kovdor. Now, returning to the town after many years, Alla was interviewing young people aged 15-30 that are facing same dilemma that she had – stay, leave, or return to Kovdor after getting higher education elsewhere?

Education is one of the important factors determining youth’s motivation to leave the town – school graduates can only get vocational training in Kovdor with very limited choice of professions available. Most professions are men-oriented, preparing for work at the mining industry, so girls and boys with different interests are pushed to leave the town. Lack of education, relevant for modern youth, is a general problem for most northern single industry towns, and Kovdor is no exception here.

Kovdor indeed resembles many other industrial towns in the Russian North: a large carbonatite mine is located next to the town, and Kovdorians are employed at the “Kovdor’s Mining Plant” (Kovdorsky gorno-obogatitelny kombinat, or Kovdorsky GOK), currently owned by the EuroChem, a large nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer company headquartered in Zug, Switzerland. The enterprise is quite successful, but still the population of Kovdor is rapidly decreasing every year. According to Alla Bolotova, most school pupils, interviewed for the Wollie project, are eager to leave the town after finishing school. However, there are also some young people returning to the town after getting education elsewhere and starting the families: Kovdor is a rather compact safe town, with cheap apartments, while salaries in mining sector are relatively high. Also, help of grandparents and other relatives becomes quite important when young families get children.

But what is in Kovdor for the youth? There are several state sport clubs and schools, associations at the vocational training college and schools, various dance and other interest clubs at the local House of culture and libraries, however, many of them encounter problems trying to attract young people to their formalized activities. There is a youth club formed as a grassroots initiative called “Prityazhenie”. It appeared in 2015 as result of cooperation of several young workers wishing to create an alternative leisure place for working youth, and later got registered as an NGO. This independent youth centre organises variety of events, such as music concerts, film screenings, language clubs, meetings for playing board games, etc. The centre and its activities are funded mainly by the young working people themselves, but for several activities they also got small-scale support from the Eurochem company and from the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs. 

Alla Bolotova at the open discussion about Kovdor and its attraction for youth.

As was mentioned earlier, Kovdor is situated indeed very close to the border with Finland, but there is no border checkpoint, therefore Kovdorians have to take a long bypass route to the East to Kandalaksha and then to the South and back to the West to Allakurti and Salla border crossing point, which adds extra 300 kilometres to the ride. Many residents of Kovdor believe, that creating a new border crossing would significantly change the life in the town, releasing it from the plight of the dead-end location. At the moment Kovdor is also not so inviting for local tourism because it is one of the most distant towns from the regional center Murmansk: it takes 4 hours to drive from Murmansk to Kovdor by car, while very attractive Khibiny mountains with well developed tourist infrastructure are situated twice closer to Murmansk.

And yet, there have been positive changes in the town recently, which many Kovdorians attribute to the change of the city leader: according to their opinion, in a short period of time the new head of Kovdor district Sergei Somov succeeded to get streets regularly cleaned from snow, to renovate and decorate the parks, to make public events and celebrations more interesting. In 2019 an agreement was made to create a “Territory of advanced socio-economic development” in Kovdor. In the future that will make the town more attractive for new investors, who can get tax benefits, if they locate their business in Kovdor and provide work places for locals.

In cooperation with Eurochem Sergei Somov also supports the initiative “Kovdor – the capital of Hyperborea” (Kovdor – stolitsa Giperborei). The project is aimed at developing tourism in the Kovdorskii district, where several megaliths were found. Supporters of this project suggest that the megalithes and other artifacts indicate that Kovdor is located in the centre of the mythical land Hyperborea. Many young Kovdorians are in favour of the project too; however, for some locals it is unclear what actually Hyperborea means and how can young people relate to it. Alla Bolotova thinks that EuroChem should pay more attention to make this project understandable and attractive for the local population instead of focusing predominantly on the external PR. Another challenge for “Kovdor – the capital of Hyperborea” is Russian Orthodox Church’s condemnation of the initiative, as it belongs to pagan culture.

Kovdor, like all other single industry northern towns, has its own ups and downs. For now it seems that both the young people and the administration are doing their best to bring more diversity to the activities in the town, and their efforts can be seen.