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  • Author: Antto Vihma, Harro van Asselt
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Notwithstanding the incremental steps taken in October 2013, meaningful action on regulating international aviation emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) remains a distant prospect. The European Union (EU) must decide on its aviation Directive without the guarantee of a global market-based mechanism being agreed in 2016. The strong and uncompromising positions of countries opposed to the inclusion of foreign airlines in the EU's emissions trading system (ETS) are more related to a realist game of politics rather than to the design details of the policy instrument. The political and legal arguments against the European Commission's proposal to amend the EU ETS vis à vis aviation emissions are unconvincing. Europe should also insist on its own sovereign rights-such as the right to regulate international aviation in its own airspace-and consider ways of manifesting more assertiveness in the future in order not to create a precedent with the retreat in the Aviation Directive case. Otherwise, the EU ma y become vulnerable to pressure in other areas of regulation with extraterritorial implications, and the EU's credibility when faced with strong and coordinated external influences might be undermined.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Treaties and Agreements, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Antto Vihma
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: There is a pressing need to clarify, institutionalize and increase the efficiency of the work of the UN climate negotiations. This task starts with a systematic search for possible solutions and the political will to begin a long battle to push them through. At the next stage of maturity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change should streamline its work programme, cut sessions, eliminate overlaps, and delete agenda items. These kinds of reforms will be politically fraught, and in practice need to be accomplished together with a package of substantive decisions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Environment, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With exciting economic opportunities and serious environmental challenges, the Arctic is transforming and re-emerging as a geopolitically important region. Major global players within and without the Arctic are paying greater attention to the region. While Russia is a traditional Arctic state with significant economic and security interests in the region, China, the US and the EU have also expressed their Arctic interests more explicitly. They are keen to tap into the economic potential and have a say in the way the region becomes accessed, exploited and governed. As a result, the Arctic is no longer a spatially or administratively confined region, but is instead taking its new form in the midst of contemporary global politics. The globalization and economization of the Arctic will most likely downplay environmentalism and reduce the relative influence of the indigenous people and small Arctic states in Arctic affairs. Arctic governance is also likely to turn more complex and complicated as the economic and political stakes are raised.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: According to a popular notion, huge natural resource reserves located in the Arctic region will lead to a conflictual “gold rush” when Arctic states compete to claim these reserves for themselves. More precisely, there is the potential for interstate conflict in the Arctic area related to unresolved border issues, control of the Arctic maritime routes, and demarcation of the resource-rich continental shelves under the Arctic Ocean. However, Arctic states have little to gain by letting the Arctic dynamics slip into a conflict state that would create an unfruitful investment environment in the region. Relatively well-functioning regional and international governance mechanisms further defuse the interstate conflict potential in the region. Despite the divergent political interests of various players, the intra-Arctic conflict potential remains low. Should interstate conflict surface in the Arctic, the source is most likely to be related to complex global dynamics that may spill over to the region and which cannot be addressed with existing Arctic governance mechanisms. This extra-Arctic perspective should be increasingly taken into consideration by scholars and policy-makers.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Climate Change, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Author: Anna Kronlund
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's recent action to address climate change indicates that it will be one of the second term's topical questions. The new climate change action plan introduced by Obama in June 2013 is composed of various executive actions and based on three pillars: reducing carbon pollution; leading international attempts to approach climate change; and preparing the US for the effects of climate change. The measures already adopted on climate change provide an opportunity to examine the possibilities that the president has to implement his climate action plan through executive powers without Congress. The decision to advance the political agenda through executive decisions is at least partly attributable to the partisan gridlock currently gripping US politics. The reach and effect of the executive decisions to address climate change outlined in the climate action plan are yet to be determined. The topical question seems to be whether the actions already taken offer hope that the US will reach its target to reduce carbon pollution and slow the effects of climate change, or whether legislative action from Congress will be called for. Although climate change is now being addressed through executive actions that do not require new legislation from Congress, this does not rule out the possibility that legislation will be passed in the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Industrial Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Diarmuid Torney
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU has long played an important role in international climate governance, but changing relations of global power and governance are leading some to question the continued centrality of the EU in this area. For some, these changes were crystallized in the European experience at the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009. The shifting sands of contemporary climate politics make it all the more important for the EU to make the most of its diplomatic resources and capacities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Patrick Matschoss
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Renewable energies will be the major contributor to any future low carbon energy system and the share may be as high as nearly 80% of the world's energy supply by 2050. Renewable energies have vast potential but require a set of coherent policies to reach necessary deployment rates, because the market place neither accounts sufficiently for their climate change-related and wider benefits nor for the benefits of technological learning, making them appear less competitive than they really are. Renewable energies can be integrated in all supply systems and end-use sectors but at some point they will require investment and change. In electricity, an enhanced Pan-European network infrastructure (smart grid) would smooth variability and the remaining non-renewable generation capacity would be highly flexible. Energy security would be enhanced by greater efficiency and a broader and less import-dependent energy portfolio with less vulnerability to energy price volatility. Network stability needs to be addressed but some renewable energies are fully dispatchable and part of the solution. The transition to renewable energies is possible and beneficial, not only due to climate change but also because it serves energy security concerns and necessary infrastructure improvements. The EU's proposed long-term strategy concerning emission reductions and competitiveness, as well as the related legislation, is moving in the right direction and it is up to the member states to pick this up and push it forward.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Antto Vihma, Harro van Asselt
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Every year, the UN climate negotiations seem to fail the test of saving the global climate in the public eye. The expectations placed on the UN climate regime are simply too high. The great expectations of the UN climate regime—and the subsequent inability to meet them–are damaging, as they resonate with sceptics of international climate policy and UN multilateralism in general. The world has changed since the early 1990s, when post-Cold War optimism provided fertile ground for establishing several environmental regimes. The new geopolitical and domestic realities provide the backdrop for the progress that can be achieved through multilateral climate negotiations. However, the UN climate regime plays a crucial role by catalysing climate action, building a common vision between different states, enhancing transparency, and promoting the diffusion of novel policy ideas and instruments. The role of the UNFCCC could be further strengthened by allowing it to act as an orchestrator which coordinates the array of initiatives.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Cold War, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Thomas Spencer, Kai-Olaf Lang, Martin Kremer
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Central and Eastern European Member States are expected to play a key role in the debate around future EU climate policy, including the potential move beyond a 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target by 2020. Hungary and Poland hold the rotating EU Presidency in 2011, and energy security has been placed as a priority issue on both Presidency agendas. At the same time, energy security is a key issue in climate policy, particularly for the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Member States. Hungary's ambassador for Energy Security, Mihaly Bayer, made the link explicit, saying “if we can settle energy security then we can deal with climate change more calmly”. It is important to gain an understanding of the actual underpinnings of the energy security debate in CEE, and of the impact of a more stringent 2020 reduction target for this region.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Hungary
  • Author: Antto Vihma
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Cancún climate meeting adopted a package of decisions to numerous standing ovations. However, it did so against loud and formal protests from Bolivia, stretching the concept of “consensus” more than ever before within the UN climate regime. The Cancún meeting also brought to everyone's attention the inconvenient truth that decision-making in the UNFCCC exists in a legal vacuum. The Conference of the Parties has never agreed its Rules of Procedure, and has during its 17-year history operated with draft Rules of Procedure without voting rules, under a general agreement that decisions are taken by “consensus”. In the light of the dramatic events in the recent Copenhagen and Cancún meetings, as well as the daunting prospects of achieving a ratifiable legal instrument for post-2012, it is clear that the relationship between consent and authority has become too flimsy to provide an unproblematic basis of legitimacy for the UNFCCC's decision-making. The 2000s led to the erosion of UNFCCC's legitimacy as a decision-making arena, especially in the subjective views of Northern governments as well as considerable parts of the expert community and the public in general. This trend led to an outburst of UN scepticism after the Copenhagen meeting, declaring the UN climate regime to be a “multilateral zombie”. While the Cancún meeting has been criticised with arguments based on process and legitimacy, from a broader perspective it seems likely that achieving decisions with some substance is actually the primary need in securing the legitimacy of the UN process. Had the Cancún agreement been negotiated outside the UN, it would very likely have been weaker on several fronts. Also, it is important to keep the longer term option for a legally binding treaty open; the only institutional possibility for this lies within the UNFCCC.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, United Nations
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Thomas Spencer, Kristian Tangen
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Copenhagen climate summit was seen as a set-back for the eu. It was left out of the final meeting between the usa and major developing countries which lead to the Copenhagen Accord, and had to accept a deal that fell below its expectations. Due to the impact of the economic crisis, the eu's current target of a unilateral 20 % reduction is no longer as impressive as it seemed in 2007–2008; this is undermining the eu's claim to leadership. In order to match the higher pledges of Japan, Australia and the us, as well as shoulder its fair share of the industrialized countries' aggregate 30 % reduction, the eu would have to pledge a 35 % reduction. The eu's practise of attaching conditionalities to its higher target gives it very little leverage. However, there might be a case for the eu to move unilaterally to a 30 % reduction in order to accelerate the decarbonisation of its economy and capture new growth markets. Doing so could support stronger policy development in other countries such as Australia and Japan, and help rebuild trust among developing countries. But on its own it would be unlikely to have a substantial impact on the position of the other big players—the usa, China, India, and Brazil. The incoherence of the eu's support of a “singe legal outcome” from the Copenhagen summit, based on the elements of the Kyoto Protocol, was a major cause for its isolation. The us remains domestically unable to commit to this type of a ratifiable treaty while developing countries are not yet ready to commit to absolute targets. A return to a two-track approach, involving the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiation of a new instrument for the usa and major developing countries, may be a more politically and practically feasible approach, while retaining the goal of working towards a legally binding instrument for all key participants over time.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, India, Brazil, Australia
  • Author: Mari Luomi
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Middle East is considered to be one of the regions most vulnerable to the negative impacts of global climate change. These adverse impacts will be most sharply felt by the poorest and weakest states of the region, and especially those with already scarce water resources. Despite clear indications regarding future negative impacts of climate change to the region, the Arab states of the Middle East still do not perceive climate change as a threatening factor to their economic development and stability in the future.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Kristian Tangen
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: It is far from certain that a strong, legally-binding climate agreement preferred by the EU will produce better environmental results than the broader and weaker scheme proposed by the USA. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, countries that are listed in Annex B of the protocol also committed themselves to inscribe new emission reduction targets for the period after 2012. The push by some countries for a single legal outcome to replace the Kyoto Protocol has antagonized developing countries, who see this as an attempt by the developed countries to back out of their commitments. In terms of environmental results and the negotiation dynamics there are significant merits to a system where one group of countries takes on legally binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol for the post-2012 period, and another group of countries take on less binding commitments under the Climate Change Convention. Such a system could broaden participation by including countries not yet ready to accede to a legally-binding instrument (i.e. the USA and major developing countries), while preserving the operational detail of the Kyoto Protocol to serve as a benchmark for the development of the climate regime going forward.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Environment, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alexandru Luta
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Due to the immense strain they put on policymakers, the oil crises of the 1970s and the contemporary challenge of anthropogenic global warming must represent two of the greatest tests of Japanese energy policy of the past 50 years. As such, the policy response to the oil crises had been effective, but the challenges posed by global warming have not been met with equal success–and this situation partly stems from the measures adopted in response to the previous crisis.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Antto Vihma
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As immediate emotions after Copenhagen COP-15 have faded, space is opening for more measured and systematic reflections on the lessons of the multilateral climate process. One key issue in global climate talks is the current state of the Group of 77 and China block of developing countries—its growing differences, and sources of solidarity.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Organization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Thomas Spencer
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the lack of a global agreement in Copenhagen, momentum remains for the further development of EU climate policy, as indeed it does in many other countries. A 2010 Deutsche Bank report surveying the development of climate policies worldwide concluded that "…'the race is on' for countries to achieve a green economy". A wide range of EU initiatives on energy and climate are expected this year, providing opportunities to enhance the coherence and impact of EU policy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Thomas Spencer, Agata Hinc
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In October 2010 the Commission released the long-awaited review of the EU budget, setting out the parameters of the debate around the next financial perspective, 2014-2020. The Budget Re view outlined a rather conservative programme for reform of the Cohesion and Common Agricultural Policy, largely envisaging the preservation of existing objectives and instruments. However, policymakers have also called for a stronger integration of EU climate policy with EU fiscal policy, particularly with regard to the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Member States; the budget has also been proposed as a mechanism to compensate for the potential loss of surplus Assigned Amount Units under the Kyoto Protocol. Likewise, the 20/20/20 climate and energy targets were placed at the heart of the EU 2020 strategy. The question therefore arises: What role should the EU budget play in supporting climate policy in CEE Member States?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Tuuli Mäkelä
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The international community is currently in the midst of negotiating a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, due to be concluded at Copenhagen in December this year. The European Union has so far taken extensive measures internally to comply with its commitment under the Protocol, and has thereby led the global effort to slow down climate change. At Bali in December 2007, the European Union played an active role in brokering a deal with developing countries on the Copenhagen building blocks, while US climate politics were still largely in gridlock.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anna Korppoo
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Russian Cabinet discussed a draft 'climate doctrine' on 23 April 2009. The document, opened for comments 28 May 2009, is a political declaration on the approach to climate change. The debate around the doctrine was largely based on the scientific report published by the Hydrometeorological Service of Russia (Roshydromet) in February 2009. This document recognizes climate change as a human-induced phenomenon and acknowledges the main characteristics of the changes expected.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Alexandru Luta
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has pledged to reduce its GHG emissions during the first commitment period by 6% relative to 1990. However, Japan's national GHG inventory indicates that emission levels for 2007, the latest year for which official estimates are currently available, have reached 1.374 billion tons of CO2 equivalent, representing a 9% increase relative to the base year.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Japan