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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: 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: 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
  • 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: 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: 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: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The 10-15% reduction target by 2020 announced by Russia reflects neither the country's efficiency potential, nor modeled emissions trends. With emission reduction measures, Russia could commit to a target of ca. -30% by 2020. Transferring the surplus emission allowances Russia gained under the Kyoto Protocol due to the economic restructuring of the 1990s represents an extreme threat to both the environmental and market integrity of the Copenhagen agreement as it could be used to offset real domestic emission reduction measures in other countries. But it seems politically unlikely that Russia would join without transferring the surplus under the Copenhagen agreement. Countries should recognize the threat posed by the surplus, and offer a cooperative strategy to deal with it. However, pushing through a 'cancel or discount' approach to the surplus problem by three-quarter majority, which could be brought together without the co-operation of the surplus-holding countries, should be kept as a reserve strategy. More ambitious targets - beyond the 25-40% suggested by the IPCC - for the Annex I industrialized country group, especially for the surplus holding countries including Russia, could absorb the transferred surplus. However, given the current low pledges of Annex 1 countries, higher targets are unlikely to absorb the whole surplus, and therefore, a basket of approaches should be applied. To gain credibility on this issue of vis-à-vis Russia and to avoid Russia setting the tone, before Copenhagen the EU must adopt an internal solution to deal with the surplus of its new member states. If expecting to transfer the surpluses, the other surplus holding countries including Russia could announce national surplus use plans prior to the Copenhagen climate talks. In order to minimize a scenario of Russia blocking the Copenhagen process in the final hours, key countries should publically engage Russia on climate and the Copenhagen talks. Important Annex I countries, especially the US, should send very high-level representatives to Moscow like they have sent to China and India.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, India, Asia