Decentralizing Finland’s energy regime: The triggers and dynamics of transition (DEFEND)
(Project funded by the Academy of Finland New Energy Research Programme 2015-2018)
All around Europe countries are changing their energy systems. The changes are triggered by climate change, other environmental problems, economic crises and concerns about self-sufficiency. While key European nations have chosen to focus on sustainable decentralized solutions, Finland has so far opted for traditional large-scale centralized solutions. The long-term socio-economic and environmental viability of the Finnish strategy has been challenged by calls for a growth and climate oriented energy transition. Serious concerns have been expressed about a centralized energy regime’s resilience against the uncertainties of climate change and energy markets, while maintaining the capacity to adapt to new social-ecological circumstances. These tensions make Finland an ideal case study for analysis and experimentation with sustainable energy transitions. We rely on the broad analytical framework of socio-technical sustainability transitions but enrich the framework with new knowledge on the socio-cognitive processes that trigger transitions within specific niches.
The objectives of DEFEND are
- To analyze the institutional, behavioral, economic, political and technological dynamics that drive the centralization of the Finnish energy regime. We synthesize lessons from Europe and the United States with successful decentralization policies. We complement these with experiences from ongoing projects in Finland that would require regulatory support.
- To develop behaviorally grounded policy tools that enable changing the institutional framework and transitioning into a locally-oriented, more self-sufficient and decentralized energy system. We conduct experiments with science-policy interventions to nudge the energy regime toward resilience and adaptation. We synthesize the results into energy policy tools with which to trigger and facilitate energy transition in Finland from a centralized and vulnerable energy regime based on non-renewable resources toward a locally oriented and resilient regime based on renewable resources.
Environmental Policy Research Group, University of Helsinki
- Janne I. Hukkinen, PhD, professor, consortium PI
- Nina Janasik-Honkela, PhD, post-doctoral researcher
- Arho Toikka, PhD, post-doctoral researcher
- Karoliina Isoaho, MSc, doctoral researcher
New Energy Technologies Group, Aalto University
- Peter D. Lund, D.Sc. (Tech.), professor, subproject PI
- Sannamari Pilpola, MTech, doctoral researcher
Energy Engineering and Environmental Protection Group, Aalto University
Potential of continuous cover forestry for climate change mitigation, wood production and biodiversity protection (CONBIO) (Project funded by Helsinki University Centre for Environment (HENVI) 2015-2018)
- Mika Järvinen, D.Sc. (Tech.), professor, subproject PI
- Sanni Eloneva, DSc (Tech), post-doctoral researcher
- Laura Kainiemi, MSc, doctoral researcher
Climate change is expected to increase the productivity of boreal forest but accompanied by an increased risk of perturbations, such as storms, drought, fire and infestation. The resilience of forests against harmful perturbations is related to forest structure and biodiversity. Continuous cover forestry (CCF) has been proposed as one way to maintain both diversity, wood production and carbon storage of forests , and several studies propose that CCF might be a way to adapt to climate change since these forests are more resilient.
Due to forest legislation, CCF has not been practised in Finland for over 60 years, and scientific understanding about it is insufficient. However, CCF was made permissible under the new Finnish forest law since January 2014. This offers an opportunity to diversify forest structure and management practices, by means of selecting the appropriate management method for each forest site in view of the provision of ecosystem services and resilience against climate change.
Making changes in management recommendations, regulations and legislation is a long process that requires scientific evidence in support of the changes. But change also assumes stakeholders willing to adopt and implement the new ideas in practice. From this perspective, the time horizon for climate change mitigation and adaptation is short, and efficient methods for gaining knowledge and implementing new management rules are required urgently. This calls for combining ecological research with an analysis of the economics of forest management and the social and institutional prerequisites for triggering rapid changes in stakeholder behavior.
The objective of this study is (1) to assess the potential of CCF to integrate wood production, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, and (2) to analyse the effectiveness, speed, and path dependence of relevant cognitive-behavioral policy instruments for nudging the forest owners’ choices with respect to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
The study is carried out by an interdisciplinary team covering forest ecology and management, biology, economics and social sciences.
Project leader, Professor Annikki Mäkela
Department of Forest Sciences
- Mikko Mönkkönen, University of Jyväskylä
- Olli Tahvonen, Department of Forest Sciences, UH
- Janne Hukkinen, Department of Social Studies, UH
- Frank Berninger, Department of Forest Sciences, UH