Category Archives: Event

COP25 in Madrid

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.

Workshop on EU-Russia Energy Dialogue in St. Petersburg

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.

Talouspolitiikalla ilmastonmuutosta vastaan?

“Talouspolitiikalla ilmastonmuutosta vastaan?”, Tiedekulma, Helsinki, Finland

On 27th of September Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs organised a discussion panel on climate change titled “Talouspolitiikalla ilmastonmuutosta vastaan?” (With economic policy against climate change?”)

 

The central focus of the Finnish EU Presidency is the EU’s global climate leadership, but what does it mean in practice? There is still time for the COP25 climate conference in Spain in December. What are the economic policy instruments for combating climate change? What is the joint initiative of the Finnish and Chilean finance ministries to combat climate change?

The discussion was moderated by Sitra’s Director Mari Pantsar and included Pekka Morén, Ministry of Finance, our PhD student Karoliina Hurri and young environmental activist Atte Ahokas.

More information on the event.

Alla Bolotova took part in “The global life of mines: Mining and post-mining between extractivism and heritage-making” workshop at the University of Cagliari in Italy

On 21-22 of November “The global life of mines: Mining and post-mining between extractivism and heritage-making” workshop was organised at the University of Cagliari in Italy. The aim of the workshop was to bring together anthropological perspectives and ethnographic studies on mining and post-mining across a broad range of geographical contexts. The contributions explored links, interconnections and scales of articulations between the current booming of extractive industries, projects, and operations worldwide – along with the new rhetorics of
sustainability, ‘green’ and ‘blue’ economy etc.. – and the diversified consequences of
mine closures, ranging from abandonment and dereliction to new extractive processes
(heritage-making, ‘green’ economies etc).

Dr. Alla Bolotova took part in the workshop and presented there her paper “Living or Leaving? Youth and place marginalization in mining towns in the Russian Arctic” at the ‘Im/mobilities’ session.

Many young people finishing schools in mining towns in the Russian Arctic express their dreams to escape from their hometowns. Among main complaints are a lack of recreational opportunities, boredom, and soviet appearance of urban space in their localities. In this paper, I analyse lived experiences of young adults dwelling in the soviet-style urban space of Arctic mining towns and dealing with place marginalization. The new towns were built by the soviet state next to mineral deposits and were populated by incomers, stimulated to resettle up north by material benefits. Arctic mining towns became prosperous communities where town-forming enterprises were responsible for place maintenance. During the post-soviet period, international mining companies became owners of town-forming enterprises. Despite of successful internationalisation of mining enterprises, towns are still rooted in th­­e soviet past, which continues to shape lives of contemporary youth. The territory around mining towns often looks devastated, due to industrial ruins, abandoned mines, destroyed buildings. Infrastructure of single-industry towns does not fulfill needs of modern young people that contributes to large-scale outmigration of youth. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Murmansk region, I analyse experiences and strategies of young adults coping with place marginalization and numerous problems in northern declining towns.

Wokrshop’s programme can be found here.

 

51st Annual ASEEES Convention, San Francisco, USA

Our team is participating in the 51st Annual ASEEES Convention, held on 23-26 of November  in San Francisco, USA.


On 23 November Dmitry Yagodin chaired a panel “Emergent Energies and their Intersection with State, Society and Culture in the Russian Arctic”. Stephanie Hitztaler presented there a paper “A Sustainable Yamal? A Critical Look at Corporate Social Responsibility and its Contribution to Short- and Long-Term Urban Vitality in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug” and Sohvi Kangasluoma talked about “Masculine Industry, Feminine Environment? A Gender-Based Look at Media Representations of Arctic Hydrocarbon Companies”.

Later that day Stephanie Hitztaler was chairing a panel “The Politics and Perception of Climate Change and Renewable Energy Discourse from the Russian Far North to Central Asia”. Dmitry Yagodin gave a talk about “Convenient Truth: The Roots of Climate Denial in the Official Discourse in Russia” and Hilma Salonen presented her paper “Is there Life after Fossil Fuels?”.

 

Arctic Spirit Conference

On 12-13 of November the Arctic Spirit conference was organised in Rovaniemi. The Conference is an official side event of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Thus, the Conference also enhances Arctic discussion during the Presidency.

This year the conference focused on climate change, especially from the viewpoint of young people and future generations living in the Arctic. The first conference day consisted of invited keynote speeches and panel discussions focusing on the voice of Arctic youth and the different levels of climate-related decision-making. From our research group, Sanna Kopra participated in the panel discussion “Climate Decision-Making – Why Is It So Difficult?”.

On the second day, the parallel thematic sessions looked at the main theme from various angles. Alla Bolotova and Elena Gorbacheva participated in the “Live, Work Or Leave? Youth-Well-Being And The Viability Of Arctic Towns And Cities” session and gave a presentation “Recycling initiatives of youth in industrial cities in the Russian Arctic: environmentally responsible behaviour in the absence of structural opportunities”. The session was arranged by the Wollie project, and many of the project’s participants from Russia and Finland shared their current results. The session lasted all day and culminated with a fruitful discussion on what is special about the Arctic youth in different states – or is there anything special about it at all?

More information about the Arctic Spirit can be found on the conference website.

Aurora Forum in Scotland

On 31.10-02.11 Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen participated in Aurora Forum in Edinburgh, The United Kingdom. Professor Tynkkynen took part the panel “The Arctic – climate, defence, infrastructure, energy; the challenges faced. How might the future look? What can the UK learn from the Nordic and Baltic Region?”

“Arktiset luonnonvarat – Fossiilitaloutta vai jotain muuta” luento Eiran aikuislukiossa

Today our PhD students Sohvi Kangasluoma and Hilma Salonen gave a lecture “Arktiset luonnonvarat – Fossiilitaloutta vai jotain muuta” (Arctic natural resources – Fossil economy or something else). The lecture was a part of Arktinen ulottuvuus integraatiokurssi (Arctic dimension integration course), organised at the Eira High School for Adults. The doctoral candidates say that the audience was genuinely interested and engaged in active discussion with them.

Aleksanteri Conference 2019

Tomorrow starts 3-day Aleksanteri Conference 2019 “Technology, Culture, and Society in the Eurasian Space”, and this year again several researchers from our team are participating in it.

Here are the panels where you can see the members of our team:

23.10, 17:15-18:45 2F: Cultural Technologies of the Production of ‘Nature’ panel, Alla Bolotova will present a paper “Zoned Perception of the Environment in Industrialized Russian Arctic: ‘Nature’ vs. ‘Natural Recources'”.
24.10, 11:00-12:30 Alla Bolotova and Elena Gorbacheva talk about “Recycling Initiatives of Youth in Industrial Cities in the Russian Arctic: Environmentally Responsible Behaviour in the Absence of Structural Opportunities” at the “4C: Prospects for Green Growth in Russia” panel.
Dmitry Yagodin at the same time will be discussant at the 4A: Russian Information Influence and Democracy in Europepanel.
25.10, 14:00-15:30, Dmitry Yagodin will chair and be discussant at the “7F: Online Activism” panel and Francesco Durante will chair the “7C: New Social Policy and Governance in Russia: Research and Practice” panel.

More information can be found on the conference website.

“Nordic Countries and International Relations” workshop

Our postdoctoral researcher Sanna Kopra participated in the “Nordic Countries and International Relations” workshop, organised at the Institute of Political Science Academia Sinica in Taiwan on 17-18 of October.

The Nordic Countries and International Relations Workshop is a bilateral meeting between the Institute of Politics and the Finnish Institute of International Studies (FIIA). This conference will invite five experts and scholars from the Finnish Institute of International Studies and three domestic scholars to share their research results. It is divided into three parts to discuss “Arctic Foreign Policy and the Eurasian Region”, “China, East Asia and Arctic Diplomacy”, “Permanent Development and Arctic Diplomacy”.