8th Helsinki Summer Session: US and the Evolving International Order: American U-turn on climate politics – are Biden’s plans ambitious enough?

kutsutilaisuus · Webinar · 02.09.2021 15:00 - 16:15


2nd of September 2021, at 15.00-16.15 (EEST)

The United States and the international order it has traditionally propped up have faced tumultuous times in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic is still causing disruptions around the world and the climate crisis is driving ever more destructive extreme weather events. The US, until recently the order’s putative leader, continues to grapple with the aftershocks of the Trump presidency both internally and in its foreign policy. Meanwhile, great-power competition is heating up in various theatres from Europe to the Indo-Pacific, not to mention in different domains, whether cyber, maritime or aerial. Against this backdrop, the 8th Helsinki Summer Session explores the future of international order at a time when the United States is debating and reassessing the parameters of its global engagement. This year’s panels bring together experts from the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific to cover a wide range of themes, including transatlantic trade and security relations, the developing order in the Indo-Pacific, climate politics, as well as the role of the US in Nordic security.

Panel description: 

In 2020, climate change was an important issue in the presidential election for the first time in American history. On January 20th 2021 power exchanged hands in Washington and the United States undertook an immediate U-turn on climate issues. In his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden re-joined the Paris agreement, hosted a climate summit, pledged to cut American greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 and introduced an infrastructure plan with a clear environmental focus. Will Biden be able to deliver on his promises? Are his plans ambitious enough to make a difference? How does Biden’s agenda stack up in comparison to other key players, and what has the international reaction been to US claims of climate leadership?

The recording of the webinar is available at FIIA’s youtube-channel:




Michael Mehling

Deputy Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR), MIT

Michael Mehling is Deputy Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a research scientist with the MIT Energy Initiative (MITei), and a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde. In recent years, research interests have included the energy and climate policy of the European Union as well as the effects of the German energy transition, or “Energiewende.” Previously, Michael served as Executive Director of MIT CEEPR with responsibility for day-to-day operations and fundraising, and as founding President of Ecologic Institute in Washington DC, an environmental policy think tank with partner offices in Berlin and Brussels, where he remains on the Board of Directors and is a manager of the U.S. Chapter of the Konrad-von-Moltke Fund.


Rohemir Ramirez Ballagas

Climate Policy Officer, U.S. State Department

Rohemir Ramirez Ballagas is a Climate Policy Officer for the Office of Global Change at the U.S. State Department. Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Mr. Ramirez was a Staff Attorney for CLF Massachusetts working in the Clean Energy & Climate Change and Clean Air and Water Programs. Mr. Ramirez was also a Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Juan R. Torruella of the United States Court of Appeals and an Honors Attorney Fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1. Mr. Ramirez holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, where he served as a student clinician at the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and as line editor of the Environmental Law Review.

Emma Hakala

Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Emma Hakala is a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. She defended her doctoral dissertation in political history in 2018 under the title “International Organisations and the Securitisation of the Environment in post-Conflict Western Balkans”. Hakala’s broader research interest is on environmental and climate security. She has also done research and published on sustainable energy issues, environmental citizenship in the Balkans and local water sustainability cooperation in Nepal. Hakala’s current research explores new practices to respond and adapt to environmental security threats in the context of Finland. She is a member of the BIOS Research Unit and the WISE project (Creative adaptation to wicked socio-environmental disruptions).


Kati Kulovesi

Professor of International Law, University of Eastern Finland

Kati Kulovesi is Professor of International Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law at the Law School of the University of Eastern Finland. She is also Docent of International Law at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. She holds LLM and PhD degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her current research focuses on climate change law, including its theoretical and interdisciplinary aspects, and she is the Principal Investigator in the ClimaSlow ERC project as well as in the 2035Legitimacy SRC project.