Category Archives: Publication

China in the Polar “Zone of Peace”

Sanna Kopra wrote an article for the Ecowall – a collaborative research platform seeking a clearer picture of the China-Europe relationship in all its dimensions, The article is titled “China in the Polar “Zone of Peace”” and aims to answer a question “what kind of security risks for the Arctic states and peoples could accompany China’s regional engagement?”

At present, however, the emerging security impact of China’s growing Arctic foothold remains mainly political and economic in nature. If the economies of northern municipalities or entire Arctic states become very dependent on Chinese investments, their vulnerability to fluctuations in the Chinese economy, for example, may increase. Such economic dependence might also result in political pressure to pay greater attention to China’s interests in political decision-making at a local or national level, even to a degree that Arctic states’ own values and national interests – including long-term economic interests – are adversely affected.

Read article online here.

Modernization of Russian district heating systems with the help of biomass energy – A Gordian knot?

Doctoral Candidate Hilma Salonen published her new article “Modernization of Russian district heating systems with the help of biomass energy – A Gordian knot?” in “Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions” journal.

The article discusses the prospects of local wood waste resources as replacements for fossil fuel imports in the remote settlements of the Russian North from a viewpoint of a case study: the Arkhangelsk region and its outdated heating and fossil fuel delivery systems. Drawing on energy transition literature and expert interviews, the most influential factors are defined in geographic-infrastructural, institutional, financial, and behavioral contexts. In conclusion, the article determines that a key issue is that the constraints for alternative energy sources reinforce each other, while the actors working for them find themselves in an isolated position. This is especially true for the institutional and financial constraints. However, by examining the enabling factors it is possible to see how the bundle of constraints could also be undone together. Most efficient way for success would likely be helping municipalities and actors in the fields of biomass and energy production to form joint clusters and share resources.

This enlightening article can be read online.

Nadir Kinossian’s review of the “Russia’s Far North: The contested Energy Frontier”

Nadir Kinossian wrote a review of the “Russia’s Far North: The contested Energy Frontier” book, edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto.

This is a timely and important book because it addresses a number of critical issues shaping the future of the Arctic, such as energy, transportation, sustainability, security, international cooperation, and economic development. Russia has historically been a prominent player in the Arctic and currently is seeking to increase its presence there. Russias activities aimed to exploit the untapped natural resources, upgrade the Northern Sea Route (NSR), claim extended parts of the Arctic continental shelf, and boost its military presence in the region attract growing attention in academic and policy circles. Russia is not a sole actor seeking to use the regions natural resources. Arctic and non-Arctic states, as well as non-state players, seek to explore economic opportunities in the region, which suggests that governing regimes for the Arctic have to respond to the increasing number of actors, interests, and risks associated with economic activities in the region.

The title of this edited volume, Russias Far North: The Contested Energy Frontier , implies the somewhat uncertain status of Russias northern peripheries, their openness for colonization, competition, and possibly contestation. To what extent is such vision of the region accurate?The authors apply various disciplinary perspectives to analyze actors, regimes, and processes that shape the future of the Arctic. While dierent chapters contribute to the debates in specic policy areas, the volume oers an overview of Russias Far North as a dynamic area of governance and policy. The books comprehensive scope makes it extremely valuable for researchers and policy-makers interested in the Arctic. As a detailed reection on all 15 chapters in this edited volume would be an impossibility, this review has to be selective.

The review is published in the latest issue of “Polar Geography” and can be read here.

Sohvi Kangasluoma edits the series “Arctic futures”, first article written by Sanna Kopra and Liisa Kauppila

Our Sohvi Kangasluoma is the editor of series “Arctic futures”, (Arktiset tulevaisuudet), published in The Ulkopolitist. The first article was published today and is written by Sanna Kopra and Liisa Kauppila. The article is titled “Arktiset tulevaisuudet: Kiinan punatähti Arktiksen yllä vai suojeltu pohjoinen vuonna 2049?” (Arctic futures: China’s red star above Arctic or protectedNorth in 2049?). In the piece, Kopra and Kauppila lay out four different scenarios about China’s future in the Arctic in 2049 accompanied with amazing pictures by Tuuli Hypén.

Read article online at The Ulkopolitist

Towards Carbon-Neutral Mobility in Finland: Mobility and Life Satisfaction in Day-to-Day Life

Sakari Höysniemi got his article “Towards Carbon-Neutral Mobility in Finland: Mobility and Life Satisfaction in Day-to-Day Life” published in the Sustainability journal. The article is co-authored with Arto O. Salonen and will be part of Sakari’s PhD dissertation.

Finland, a prosperous Nordic country with a population of 5.5 million and significant distances between towns, though quite short distances traveled by car, is aiming to be a carbon-neutral society by 2035. Due to the level of urgency, a technological pathway with decarbonization of fuels and innovation only, is unlikely to be sufficient. Instead, a more systemic change based on a transformative pathway with demand-side management, i.e., measures based on behavioral change, is vital. In this research we were interested in learning how life satisfaction relates to the behavioral intentions of Finnish citizens, regarding a sustainable modal shift. We focused on walking, cycling, public transport and reduction in car use, e.g., a transition from fossil fuels to active mobility, from ownership to usership. Data were collected via a questionnaire in April 2017. The respondents (n = 2052) provided 2335 comments as to why they considered a specific sustainable modality as being important to them. We applied both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to establish how the mobility behavior of citizens manifests nationwide and the types of arguments that citizens put forward concerning their mobility intentions. The results indicate that there is a strong relationship between the respondents’ reduced use of private cars and their life satisfaction. There is a concern about sustainability and a willingness to change current mobility practices, as well as signs of altruism, while hedonic concerns such as health and personal finances dominate the responses. Furthermore, concerns about social injustice, such as a lack of public transport, are emerging themes, i.e., when enacting mobility transitions it is vital to focus on how to enable a meaningful life for all demographic groups using suitable mobility services.

This is an open access article and it can be read online.

Dmitry Yagodin on Russian media and climate change in the Arctic

Dmitry Yagodin, postdoctoral researcher in our team, wrote a  piece for ZOis Spotlight titled “Russian media and climate change in the Arctic”. Dmitry has been studying for some time now Russian journalism on climate-related issues in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO) and in this paper briefly describes some of the results.

The Russian Arctic is facing unprecedented industrial development and an urgent environmental transformation. While the government seeks further exploration of the world’s richest reserves of natural resources, climate change is affecting the Arctic several times faster than the Earth on average. But, as some Russian media would have it, climate change simply makes the country’s cold climate warmer. For people living in the Arctic, such views are too simplistic.

Read the full version online here.

Aleksanteri Insight – Will the Ice Silk Road be­come the com­pass for the Arc­tic?

Today new Aleksanteri Insight paper by Dr. Sanna Kopra was published, titled “Will the Ice Silk Road be­come the com­pass for the Arc­tic?”.

Photo by Kimmo Brandt

China’s rise to great power status has raised concerns globally, and the operations of Chinese companies in Africa have been criticised for neglecting human rights and environmental issues, so the actions of the country in the Arctic are being closely monitored. Therefore it’s now a showcase for the participants of the Chinese Ice Silk Road project. By following an ambitious environmental policy – and requiring the same from local partners – China’s Ice Silk Road project has an opportunity to define the tides of the development of the Arctic region.

Aleksanteri Insight is a series of expert opinions, published by the Aleksanteri Institute quarterly. The latest issue can be read online.

“Climate Change and Arctic Security: Searching for a Paradigm Shift” book has been published online

“Climate Change and Arctic Security: Searching for a Paradigm Shift” book, edited by L. Heininen & H. Exner-Pirot,  has been published online. Sanna Kopra wrote a chapter for the volume, titled “China, Great Power Responsibility and Arctic Security”.

This book assesses the construction of security in the context of climate change, with a focus on the Arctic region. It examines and discusses changes in the security premises of the Arctic states, from traditional security to environmental and human security. In particular, the book explores how climate change impacts security discourses and premises as well as theoretically discussing the possibility for another change, from circumpolar stability into peaceful change. Chapters cover topics such as the ethics of climate change in the arctic, China’s emerging power and influence on arctic climate security, the discursive transformation of the definition of security and the intersection between urban, climate and Arctic studies. The book concludes with the question of whether a paradigm shift in our understanding of traditional security is possible, and whether it is already occurring in the Arctic.

More information on the book can be found on publisher’s website.

The Dragon looks to the North: China’s growing role in the Arctic

Dr. Sanna Kopra wrote an article for the “Atlantic Community” titled “The Dragon looks to the North: China’s growing role in the Arctic”.

Due to new economic opportunities offered by the Arctic, many non-Arctic states have become interested in the region. Notably, China has begun to describe itself as a ‘near-Arctic state’ and renamed the series of planned Arctic shipping routes ‘the Polar Silk Road’. In June 2017, the Polar Silk Road was officially added to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and in January 2018, the Chinese government published its first, long-awaited Arctic strategy. This article reviews China’s Arctic engagement and briefly discusses the future of China’s regional role.

The article can be read online here.

“Energy materiality: A conceptual review of multi-disciplinary approaches” paper is out

Energy materiality: A conceptual review of multi-disciplinary approaches” paper, co-written by Margarita Balmaceda, Per Högselius, Corey Johnson, Heiko Pleines, Douglas Rogers, and Veli-Pekka and Tynkkynen has been published online. The paper will appear in the “Energy Research & Social Science October” issue.

This jointly authored essay reviews recent scholarship in the social sciences, broadly understood, that focuses on the materiality of energy. Although this work is extraordinarily diverse in its disciplinary and interdisciplinary influences and its theoretical and methodological commitments, we discern four areas of convergence and divergence that we term the locationsusesrelationalities, and analytical roles of energy materiality. We trace these convergences and divergences through five recent scholarly conversations: materiality as a constraint on actors’ behavior; historical energy systems; mobility, space and scale; discourse and power via energy materialities; and energy becoming material.

The article can be found online here.