Europe’s largest political science conference comes to Wroclaw, ESPRI will be there

  The annual European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference will be held at the University of Wroclaw on 4-7 September 2019. The event is the largest gathering of political scientists in Europe, and the City of a Hundred Bridges looks forward to hosting some 2000 scholars on this occasion. Of course, ESPRi cannot miss this important event. The Institute’s research director Dr. Kacper Szulecki will be co-chairing a section on “Energy Transitions in Europe”, while Dr. Andrzej Ancygier and Dr. Julia Szulecka will present papers. Check out the Conference Program for details.

Food waste: seeking best practices for limiting it

 The alarming food waste scale puts the issue among the most pressing global problems. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has been estimated that at least 30% of the food grown worldwide is lost before or wasted while reaching the consumer. Saving 50% of the food wastes would allow nourishing more than 1.6 billion people, which is the double of the number of undernourished people estimated by the FAO, and the issue becomes even more critical as the world’s population keeps growing.

  Many European countries are now looking for ways to tackle the problem, with recent legislation adopted by e.g. Poland, Norway, France or the UK.

  ESPRi’s expertise in this area will be boosted in the near future thanks to a large research grant from the Research Council of Norway secured by one of our founders, and a researcher at the University of Oslo, Dr. Julia Szulecka. The “Building REsponsibility And Developing Innovative Strategies for Tackling Food Waste” (BREAD) project will begin in 2019 and run for a period of 3 years.

Anti-nuclear movement in Poland: book launch [in Polish]

 The European Solidarity Center hosted a book launch for the first monograph of Poland’s anti-nuclear movement, with Janusz Waluszko and Kacper Szulecki talking to ECS’ Dr. Grzegorz Piotrowski (an expert on social movements). The full recording is available in Polish.

“Politics and Governance” special issue on EU climate and energy policy

  ESPRI’s Kacper Szulecki has co-edited (with Dag Harald Claes) the special issue of Politics and Governance on “EU Energy Policy: Towards a Clean Energy Transition?”. The entire issue is available in open access on the journal’s website.

For over a decade, the EU has displayed an interest and political motivation to integrate climate policy priorities into its energy governance. However, the history of European energy governance does not start there, though political science scholarship has tended to downplay the importance of energy sector regulation. Recent years have finally seen the merging of two distinct research programs on European energy politics, and the emergence of a more inclusive and historically accurate approach to energy governance in Europe.

This thematic issue follows that new paradigm. It is divided into three sections. The first investigates the EU Energy Union, its governance and decarbonization ambitions. The second section looks at the increasing overlaps between energy and competition policies, particularly the role of State Aid Guidelines in influencing energy subsidies—for renewable as well as conventional energy. Finally, the third section analyses the energy and climate policy of “new” EU members and the relationship between the EU and non-members in the energy sector.

Analyzing Poland’s carbon forestry initiatives: strengthening or replacing climate policy?

  On 18 February, Julia Szulecka and Kacper Szulecki presented a paper entitled “A Climate Skeptical Mitigation Policy? Explaining Poland’s Carbon Forestry Two-Level Game” at the international workshop “Anatomy of Disbelief - Analysing Climate Scepticism” hosted by the Jagiellonian University, Krakow. After 2015, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, most notably the environment minister Jan Szyszko, have made carbon forestry – and the idea of Forest Carbon Farms – Poland’s flagship climate initiative, both at home and internationally. The climax of this policy process was The Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate presented at COP24 in Katowice. However, the proposals made by Poland and presented as innovative mitigation instruments have a 30-year track record in global climate negotiations, and its initiatives appear marginal in the ongoing climate debate. There is a visible discrepancy between the low profile and limited resonance of the Declaration internationally, and the prominence of carbon forestry in Polish domestic climate policy debates. The paper argues, that to explain the centrality of carbon forestry in Poland’s climate policy discourse we have to understand it as an element of a two-level game, where the main audience is domestic. The authors propose to analyze it as a climate skeptical mitigation policy, functioning within a particular set of domestic discourses about climate change, nature, forests as well as broader political problems Poland faces in Europe and domestically.

Introducing the Forest Monitor: A great source of knowledge on Polish, European and international forestry

  We would like to draw your attention to a very interesting English-language forestry blog: the Forest Monitor, established by Dr. Rafał Chudy (currently a Senior Analyst at New Forests, Sydney). The “first blog for forest geeks” covers a wide range of forestry-related topics, from political economy, forests’ role in climate policy all the way to the nitty-gritty nuances of silviculture. Ran by a group of passionate young experts, this is surely a site to follow if you want don’t want to miss seeing the forest for the trees!

Energy Security in Europe: new edited book published by Palgrave!

  The book, edited by Dr. Kacper Szulecki, is the final output of the project financed by the German-Polish Science Foundation (grant No. 2014-15) lead by Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, with ESPRi’s participation.

This edited collection highlights the different meanings that have been attached to the notion of energy security and how it is taken to refer to different objects. Official policy definitions of energy security are broadly similar across countries and emphasize the reliability and affordability of access to sufficient energy resources for a community to uphold its normal economic and social functions. However, perceptions of energy security vary between states causing different actions to be taken, both in international relations and in domestic politics.

Energy Security in Europe moves the policy debates on energy security beyond a consideration of its seemingly objective nature. It also provides a series of contributions that shed light on the conditions under which similar material factors are met with very different energy security policies and divergent discourses across Europe. Furthermore, it problematizes established notions prevalent in energy security studies, such as whether energy security is ‘geopolitical’, and an element of high politics, or purely ‘economic’, and should be left for the markets to regulate.

This book will be of particular relevance to students and academics in the fields of energy studies and political science seeking to understand the divergence in perspectives and understandings of energy security challenges between EU member states and in multilateral relationships between the EU as a whole.

Julia Szulecka’s guest column on carbon forestry in Poland’s popular watchdog daily

  Poland is seen as a climate policy laggard and has recently been under a lot of international pressure due to the continued logging of the precious Bialowieza Forest. Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment boasts about the country’s uniquely sustainable forestry practices and introduces Forest Carbon Farms as an innovative tool for climate change mitigation. In an invited column for Poland’s most popular watchdog website, OKO.Press, Dr. Julia Szulecka uncovers the realities and economic interests behind this bombastic climate policy rhetoric, pointing to the close relationship of the State Forests company and the Ministry of Environment.

A two-year research project on energy security comes to an end

  ESPRi Policy Paper No 2 entitled “Towards a common EU energy policy? Debates on energy security in Poland and Germany” marks the end of a two-year-long research project financed by the German-Polish Science Foundation (grant No. 2014-15) . Lead by Prof. Heiko Pleines Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the consortium featured ESPRi as well as the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan) and Jacobs University Bremen. Apart from an international conference held in Poznan in 2016, the output of the project will be an edited volume on “Energy Security in Europe” published by Palgrave as well as a set of articles.

It is based on media analysis of the main Polish and German print media outlets in the period from 2004 to 2014, interviews conducted with decision-makers and experts in Poland, Germany and Brussels, and analysis of policy documents, expert reports and parliamentary minutes. The project team is formed by the Environmental Studies and Policy Research Institute (ESPRI, Wrocław), Jacobs University Bremen, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen.

Interviews were conducted by the project partners responsible for the respective case study, renewable energies: Jacobs University Bremen, nuclear energy: ESPRi and Jacobs University Bremen, Nord Stream gas pipeline: Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, and shale gas: Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań, interconnectors: ESPRi, Wrocław.

German media reports were selected and coded by the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen (coder: Thomas Sattich, coordinator: Andreas Heinrich). Polish media reports were selected and coded at the University of Poznan (coders: Agata Stasik and Aleksandra Lis, coordinator: Aleksandra Lis).

New monograph of Poland’s anti-nuclear protests

 The late 1980s were the heyday of Poland’s environmental protest movement. A new monograph co-authored by the late Tomasz Borewicz, Janusz Waluszko (both leaders of the 1980s protests) and ESPRi’s Kacper Szulecki, gathers archival material and rich oral history of the movement which shook Communist Poland.

  This empirically rich monograph shows how the Chernobyl catastrophe sparked a new kind of protest against the communist authorities in Poland. The authors, drawing on samizdat, archival sources and open-ended interviews with participants, show how the apparent apolitical nature of environmentalism, the broad resonance of public health issues among Polish citizens, the popularity of anti-nuclear slogans and new forms of protests, created this qualitatively new phenomenon on the opposition scene. The story of anti-nuclear protest, culminating only after the regime transition in 1990, challenges the dominant narrative of the Cold War’s end, presenting 1989 as a watershed date.

The book is forthcoming in April with the European Solidarity Center’s academic publishing house. An English edition is under contract with Berghahn Books, scheduled for late 2020.

ESPRi’s research director with best Environmental Politics article prize!

 Kacper Szulecki won the Award for the article Conceptualizing energy democracy. The prize-winning article can be downloaded for free until the end of 2019. You can read it here

  The Editorial Board Jury describe their reasons for selecting this article:

  “Dr. Szulecki’s article represents a tour de force effort to shape the academic and political agenda in the area of energy politics and democratic political theory. The article shows mastery in handling a diverse range of debates, concepts and thinkers to create an original approach and a new discourse with respect to energy democracy. It ambitiously steers energy discussions towards immensely important issues of popular sovereignty, participatory governance and civic ownership. We have no doubt of the current and future impact of the work and very much look forward to how Dr. Szulecki shapes this field in the future.”

  The award-winning article builds on the ESPRi Working Paper Energy democratization? Societal aspects of de-carbonization in the German and Polish energy sectors published in 2015.