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.
More information on the event can be found from Ympäristötiedon foorumi.
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:
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.
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.
This week, from 19th to 25th of January, Professor Tynkkynen participates in the meeting of the study group on “Energy Materiality: Infrastructure, Spatiality and Power” in HWK, Delmenhorst, Germany.This is the 6th meeting of the study group, led by Professor Margarita Balmaceda. Together with Dr. Per Högselius, Professor Dr. Corey Johnson, Professor Dr. Heiko Pleines, the participants discuss the issues of energy materiality. The main outcome of the study group will be a special issue of a journal on “Energy materiality: Infrastructure, Spatiality and Power.” In addition, individual or co-authored publications are expected on sub-areas of the SG interest, such as the impact of energy infrastructure on political power relations, and the impact of energy materiality on the role of producing, transit, processing and consumer areas.
— Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen (@VPTynkkynen) January 21, 2020
More information on the group may be found online here.
Last Friday Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen presented his new book “The Energy of Russia. Hydrocarbon Culture and Climate Change”. In this informal gathering at the University of Helsinki Think Corner “Fönster”, professor Tynkkynen presented the main insights of his timely book and answered excellent questions about Russian energy and environment policy, climate change and more. The successful event attracted a large audience of scientists, journalists and a wider community of interested in Russia and its energy policy people.
The book is officially out and can be ordered online at the publisher’s website.
From 10th to 12th of January Professor Tynkkynen participated in the 4th annual Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.
The three-day high-level event gathers international and regional political, industry, and thought leaders to set the global energy agenda for the year ahead and examine the longer-term geopolitical and geo-economic implications of the changing energy system. The 2020 conference will focus on the role of oil and gas in the energy transition, financing the future of energy, and interconnections in a new era of geopolitics. Following up on the 2019 Global Energy Forum’s regional focus on East Asia, the 2020 Forum will emphasize South and Southeast Asia as a growing demand center.
Speakers at the 2020 Forum will include: H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates & CEO, ADNOC Group; H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy & Industry, United Arab Emirates; Musabbeh Al-Kaabi, CEO, Petroleum and Petrochemicals, Mubadala Investment Company; H.E. Mohammad Barkindo, Secretary General, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries; H.E. Dr. Tawfiq-e Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Adviser to the Honorable Prime Minister, People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Francis Fannon, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State; Nandita Parshad, Managing Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Group, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Majid Jafar, CEO, Crescent Petroleum; Dr. Helima Croft, Managing Director & Global Head of Commodity Strategy, RBC Capital Markets; Manoj Kohli, Executive Chairman, SB Energy; Meg Gentle, President & CEO, Tellurian, Inc.; Adam Sieminski, President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center; Anatol Feygin, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Cheniere Partners; and Steven Kobos, President and Managing Director, Excelerate Energy.
— Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen (@VPTynkkynen) January 11, 2020
More information on the event can be found here.
Our PhD candidate Karoliina Hurri participated in the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) held in Madrid 2-15 Dec 2019. She was an observer of the University of Helsinki and focused mainly on following the dynamics between the nations within the high-level events and side events organized by China. Below are her thoughts about the COP25 outcome and next year:
Expectations postponed to 2020
The outcome of COP25 has been defined widely as a disappointment because many of the key issues remained unsolved and were pushed to be decided next year in COP26 in Glasgow, UK. Many had high expectations for the COP and the slogan of the conference #TimeforAction boosted the request to increase the ambition in 2019. However, considering the agenda of the COP25 and the global political situation this weak outcome cannot be described as a surprise: COP25 was a technical mid-term conference. Not a political one, like the next year’s COP26 Glasgow will be.
Since COP24, the climate movement has accelerated: people are becoming more aware of the climate emergency we are facing and the demand for higher climate ambition is growing. Sadly, this urgency was not present in the negotiation rooms among the political leaders of the world. In a comparison to the messages of the IPCC Special Report issued in 2018 and for example to the climate movement led by Greta Thunberg, already the agenda of COP25 revealed the slowness of governments and the UN system to answer to the growing demands of people. Climate emergency is moving faster than the governments.
European Union was the first major emitter who scaled up their climate ambition with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. In addition, the European Green Deal was presented on Wednesday 11th of December, during the second week of COP25. The Finnish Minister of the Environment and Climate, Krista Mikkonen was hoping the deal to gather responses from other Parties to increase their climate ambition. However, for this purpose and within the context of COP25, the deal came too late. After the presentation of the deal, there were only two official negotiation days left. This was a good example that if you want to lead by example, you must give others time to react.
Next year EU needs to enhance their 2030 target and if EU truly wishes to lead by example, the schedule for presenting the 2030 target should be well thought. Parties are expected to submit their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 to communicate about their hopefully more ambitious national climate plans. If EU wants others to follow their example, it should review the 2030 target early enough to give time for the others to respond. If EU has not agreed on the 2030 target well before COP26, it does not have the legitimacy to urge others to submit theirs before the deadline, the end of 2020.
The level of climate ambition by EU is crucial especially for the EU-China summit in September. Paris Agreement was largely formulated by China and the United States. United States withdrawing from the agreement next year increases the need for the EU to step up. China will unlikely strengthen its NDC if both EU and the US are uncertain partners in climate ambition.
In addition to the EU-China summit, for me the hope of next year lies in China’s next five-year plan for 2021-2025. The plan and particularly its energy transition and climate targets are globally significant as China has so much potential to reduce its emissions with renewables. The final plan will most likely be approved in early 2021. In COP25, China’s pavilion hosted a number of events related to the renewable sector and the numbers for example in Solar PV Outlook are impressive: “By 2050, PV will become China’s No.1 power source.” There are many plausible opportunities for China to enhance its NDC in different fields.
Considering the amount of work left from COP25 to COP26 and the urgency to truly peak the global emissions, next year should be busy. Because of the stiffness of the UNFCCC process, the G7 and the G20 summits could be potential events for finding common ground among the biggest emitters to upgrade their climate action. However, this hope is diminished by the fact that in 2020 G7 meeting is hosted by the United States and G20 by Saudi Arabia. Both of these countries hindered the progress in COP25 together with Australia and Brazil.
COP25 increased my understanding of effective presidency. This year individual countries such as Brazil and Australia had a loud voice. In addition, the negotiations stretching to the longest COP in history increased the inequality among the parties: many delegations from developing countries did not have the possibility to prolong their stay in Madrid. President of COP26 should make sure that all Parties have the equal possibility to participate in the final hours of the negotiations.
The host for COP26 will be the UK and despite the challenges that Brexit might bring, diplomatic skills of the UK are strong. Thus, the expectations for next year’s presidency are high. For example, in 2015 the French diplomacy played an important role in agreeing on the Paris Agreement.
Next year will set the direction whether governments truly wish to reach the 1.5 ˚C path. The path of 1.5 ˚C is not only about decreasing emissions but also about providing assistance for the ones who need it. Here, for example Finland has more to do. The insufficient climate funding from developed countries and the lack of agreed methodology to calculate the level of financing was visible in COP25 as a decreased trust among the Parties. Developing countries find it difficult to enhance their NDCs next year if they cannot rely on the promises they have been given earlier about the access and amount of funding.
Last year, after COP24 I thought that 2019 would be the year of ambition. After COP25, it is clear that it still was not #TimeforAction. I hope that after COP26 my expectations will not be postponed similarly to the following year but 2020 would prove out to be the year of ambition. For this, 2020 should bring along enhanced NDCs, ambitious long-term strategies, more financial pledges from the developed countries and a COP where urgency is better acknowledged also inside the negotiation rooms.
This Wednesday Professor Tynkkynen took part in the workshop on EU-Russia Energy Dialogue, organised in St. Petersburg, Russia. The participants of the workshop discussed the geopolitics of energy transition and climate change mitigation in the EU-Russia context. The event was organised by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs already for the second time.