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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