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Are small European states more likely to develop ambitious climate policies? Do they share common trends, or  work together to create new policies? Or, because of their smaller emissions outputs, do they not bother to create ambitious legislation at all?

These have been just some of the questions that we’ve been trying to answer at a workshop held at Dublin City University over the past few days. Organised by Diarmuid Torney, Conor Little and Neil Carter, papers included the Nordic states, CEE countries, the Nordic states, Ireland, the Nordic states, Belgium, and the Nordic states. The Nordic states featured heavily in the analyses, including my own: I compared the role of nuclear energy policy in Sweden and Finland…

 

The project is a work in progress that will hopefully lead to a special issue. For more information on the paper I presented, please see the (draft!) abstract below:-

The use of nuclear power is fiercely contested in Europe. Yet, a single Nuclear Power Reactor (NPR) can provide a large quantity of a small European state’s annual electricity requirements. Due to the lack of greenhouse gas emissions produced directly by nuclear power, the technology has been identified as a climate-friendly means of generating electricity. However, there is more to climate change mitigation than the direct production of emissions from electricity generation, and it has yet to be determined how a state’s stance towards nuclear may influence its wider climate change performance. To address this gap, this article seeks to ascertain the impact of Finland’s pro-nuclear stance on its wider climate performance between 2009 and 2015, by comparing the state with Sweden. I argue that Finland was over-reliant on nuclear power for achieving its climate change targets. Complacency in other policy areas resulted from the expectation of forthcoming low-carbon electricity, while delays to new reactors hindered emissions reductions. Sweden’s long-standing decision to phase-out nuclear power, on the other hand, necessitated continuing investments in renewables and energy efficiency. The findings hold significant policy implications for all small European states: Considering the urgency with which emissions must be reduced to keep temperature increases below two degrees, states must not rely solely upon nuclear energy for achieving their climate policy goals, but employ a portfolio of climate mitigation efforts.

 

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