Keeping the Arctic White

The WHITE project brings together a combination of law, atmospheric physics and environmental science to identify ways to strengthen the regulatory framework for reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) in the Arctic.

Strengthening action on SLCPs is a new, promising area of climate policy that could slow down climate change in the short-term while simultaneously improving local air quality and bringing health benefits. The project has received funding from the Academy of Finland for 2015-2018 and is led by the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law of the University of Eastern Finland.

Why SLCPS in the Arctic?

SLCPs are pollutants with a significant short-term warming influence on the climate, especially in sensitive regions like the Arctic. They include black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). According to estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme, reducing SLCP emissions, especially methane and black carbon, could slow the rate of global climate change by 0.5°C by 2040. Rapid action on SLCP emissions holds important potential to complement efforts to reduce the emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, leaving more time for transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

The Arctic region is warming faster than the global average and the extent of Arctic sea ice has been declining dramatically. Recent research indicates that SLCPs, including black carbon and methane, contribute to Arctic warming. Without new controls, there is a risk that their emissions may increase driven, for example, by expanding economic activities in the Arctic region. In addition to their warming impact, SLCFs are, in many cases, harmful air pollutants. Reducing pollution from black carbon and methane could therefore have important co-benefits.

What is our focus?

The project will produce a comprehensive analysis of regulatory options for reducing SLCP emissions – black carbon and methane – in the Arctic regions on the basis of latest research on SLCP emission models and climate change impacts of the various regulatory options.

The project includes four interlinked sub-projects. Sub-project 1 will study the multi-level legal and regulatory framework for reducing SLCPs in the Arctic including relevant national, regional and transnational initiatives. Sub-project 2 will study and develop emissions scenarios for various regulatory options to reduce SLCPs in the Arctic. Sub-project 3 aims at improving our understanding of climate impacts of SLCPs and measures to mitigate them in the Arctic region through short- and mid-term climate simulations. Sub-project 4 will collect findings from all sub-projects and produce an interdisciplinary synthesis of the key outcomes.

The WHITE project consortium is led by Kati Kulovesi, Professor of International Law, Law School, UEF. Sub-project leaders are Professor Kari Lehtinen from the UEF Department of Applied Physics, Dr Kaarle Kupiainen from the Finnish Environment Institute-SYKE and Dr Ismo Pölönen from the UEF Law School.

Publications

  • Khan, Sabaa. The Global Commons Through a Regional Lens: The Arctic Council on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. In Transnational Environmental Law, 2016.
  • Savolahti M., Karvosenoja N., Tissari J., Kupiainen K., Sippula O. & Jokiniemi J. 2016. Black carbon and fine particle emissions in Finnish residential wood combustion: Emission projection, reduction measures and the impact of combustion practices. Atmospheric Environment 140 (2016) 495-505. DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.023 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231016304551

Work in progress

  • Yamineva, Yulia, and Kati Kulovesi. Keeping the Arctic White: The Legal Landscape for Reducing Short-lived Climate Pollutants in the Arctic Region and Opportunities for Its Future Development. 2016.
  • Khan, Sabaa. Chapter contribution to Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Climate Change (expected in Spring, 2017).

People

  • Dr Kati Kulovesi leads the Consortium as well as the work on climate law. She is Professor of International Law, especially International Environmental Law, at the UEF Law School. She has published widely on climate change and environmental law, is a member of Finland’s Climate Change Panel and has extensive experience in international climate change policy.
  • Dr Ismo Pölönen supervises research on the Finnish regulatory framework for SLCPs. He is Research Professor of Environmental Law at Finnish Environment Institute-SYKE and the UEF.
  • Dr Yulia Yamineva conducts research on international, regional and national legal frameworks on SLCPs. She is Post-doctoral Researcher at the Law School of the UEF. She has published on international and Russian climate change law and science-policy interface. Her background also includes work for the UN Climate Change Convention Secretariat, International Institute for Sustainable Development and private sector.
  • Dr Seita Romppanen analyses the regulation of SLCPs in EU law and follows the work of the Arctic Council. She is Lecturer in International Environmental Law at the UEF Law School and an expert in EU climate and environmental law.
  • Dr. Sabaa A. Khan specializes in international environmental and trade law. She is a Member of the Barreau du Québec, former Doctoral Fellow of the Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism at the Faculty of Law, McGill University and former International Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam. Khan joins the University of Eastern Finland as a Postdoctoral Researcher on the interdisciplinary WHITE Project funded by the Academy of Finland. Her research interests focus on the interaction between environmental, trade and labour law systems, exploring this nexus in the context of Arctic governance, transboundary movements of waste commodities, biofuel production systems and global recycling chains.
  • Miia Berger analyses regulation of SLCPs in Finland. She is PhD Candidate at the UEF Law School working on a thesis on national climate change law.
  • Dr Kaarle Kupiainen is the leader of sub-project 2 on Emissions Scenarios. He is Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production of the Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE. He has extensive experience from national and international projects utilizing integrated assessment models to assess emissions of, inter alia, black carbon and other SLCPs and their impacts on human health and climate locally, regionally and globally. He is a lead author in the UNEP/WMO Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone and a member of several expert and working groups on the topic within the Arctic Council and its Working Groups.
  • Mikko Savonlahti conducts the management of scenarios and assessment of emission mitigation potential in the project. He holds M.Sc (Tech) in Energy Technologies and is a PhD Candidate at the Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE. He represents Finland in the Task Force on Integrated Assessment Modelling of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.
  • Ville-Veikko Paunu conducts spatial management and refinement of the emission data in the project. He holds M.Sc. (Tech.) in Geo-informatics and is a PhD Candidate at the Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE.
  • Dr Kari Lehtinen is the leader of sub-project 3 on Climate Impacts. He is Professor of Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry at the UEF and Head of UEF Department of Applied Physics. He has over 20 years of experience in aerosol microphysics theory and modeling in various applications.
  • Dr Thomas Kühn performs global climate simulations to assess the efficacy of the proposed emission scenarios. He is Post-doctoral Researcher at the UEF Department of Applied Physics and has background in numerical modelling. He is also member of the international ECHAM-HAMMOZ climate model development and the AeroCom model inter-comparison projects, participates in the development of the aerosol module SALSA and studies the impact of aerosols on climate, with a focus on black carbon.