The WHITE Project

What is the WHITE Project?

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.