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IDEALE Interplay between National Defence, Security and Low-Carbon Energy Policies: a Sustainability Transitions Perspective



IDEALE is an Academy of Finland fellowship project lead by Dr. Paula Kivimaa, Research Professor in Climate and Society, in SYKE’s Climate Change Programme. (Decision numbers 322667 and 328717)

IDEALE will connect the research streams of sustainability transitions, energy and national security, and policy interplay (policy coherence and policy integration) to analyse the interconnections between energy and defence/security policies.

Empirical research is carried out on Finland, Estonia, Norway and Scotland.


The project aims to examine connections between policy strategies and policy processes in two different policy domains – national security and defence policy (with particular focus on geopolitical and cyber security) and energy policy (with particular focus on low carbon innovation).


To develop the study of policy interplay (policy coherence & policy integration) conceptually and methodologically by incorporating elements of sustainability transitions and security studies.

To conduct deep and extensive empirical analysis of synergies and conflicts between national defence and security policy and energy policy, from the perspective of sustainability transitions, in Finland, Estonia, Norway and Scotland.

To create novel theoretical insights regarding sustainability transitions in connection to national defence and geopolitical security as extensions to energy security.

Research questions:

In what ways does low-carbon energy policy influence national security?

What kind of synergies, complementarities, conflicts, and examples of policy integration can be detected between low carbon energy policy and national defence and security policy in the case countries since 2006?

How have energy and defence policies reacted to landscape changes pertaining to Russian politics?

How does interplay between energy policy and defence and security policy explain the difficulties in pursuing sustainability transitions?


Empirical country studies:

Case study approach will be combined with qualitative research using in-depth interviews and detailed document analysis as sources, testing novel approaches in both. Case selection was focused on small European countries and carried out by examining the countries' energy profiles, geopolitical positioning and innovation rankings, based on diversity regarding the nature of low-carbon energy transition, position on nuclear power, relationship with Russia, and access to data.

Three stages:

  • Analysis of policy strategies and approaches
  • In-depth interviews with experts
  • Policy process case studies


Kivimaa, P., Sivonen, M.H. 2021. Interplay Between Low-Carbon Energy Transitions and National Security: An Analysis of Policy Integration and Coherence in Estonia, Finland and Scotland. Energy Research & Social Science 75: 102024.

Kivimaa, P., Laakso, S., Lonkila, A., Kaljonen, M. 2021. Moving beyond disruptive innovation: A review of disruption in sustainability transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 38: 110-126.

Kanda, W., Kivimaa, P. 2020. What opportunities could the COVID-19 outbreak offer for sustainability transitions research on electricity and mobility? Energy Research & Social Science 68, 101666.

Ghosh, B., Kivimaa, P., Ramirez, M., Schot, J., Torrens, J. 2021. Transformative outcomes: Assessing and reorienting experimentation with transformative innovation policy. Science and Public Policy, 2021.

Blog Posts & Others

Lausunto eduskunnan tulevaisuusvaliokunnalle Valtioneuvoston ulko- ja turvallisuuspoliittisesta selonteosta VNS 4/2020.

Sussex Energy Group at SPRU 25.3.2021 by Paula Kivimaa: Low carbon energy and national security: why incoherent policy risks delaying energy transition in Europe.

SYKE Ratkaisuja-blogi (in Finnish) 15.9.2020 by Paula Kivimaa ja Marja Helena Sivonen: Energia- ja ilmastopolitiikkaan tarvitaan uudenlaista avointa turvallisuusajattelua

Media Acknowledgements

The National 25.3.2021 by Greg Russel: UK Government obstructing Scotland's aspirations for a net-zero country, academics say

Insider.co.uk 25.3.2021 by Peter A. Walker: Scotland’s low carbon future 'restricted by UK national security objectives'. 

University of Sussex News 25.3.2021 by Neil Vowles: Scotland’s pursuit of low carbon future restricted by UK national security objectives


Sivonen, M.H. 2021. Securitising of low-carbon energy transition in Estonia, Finland and Norway. Interpretive Policy Analysis conference. 1.7.2021.

Kivimaa, P. 2021. “Widening scope of STI policies in sustainability transitions: transformation, justice and security”, EU-SPRI conference keynote presentation, Oslo, Norway. 11.6.2021.

Kivimaa, P. 2021. The role of research and innovation in sustainability transitions”, a knowledge talk for EC DG Research and Innovation, Brussels, Belgium. 7.6.2021.

Sivonen, M.H. 2021. Politics of energy and security: An epistemic governance approach to the low-carbon energy transition in Finland, Estonia and Norway. European Sociological Association’s (ESA) RN 15 Midterm Conference, Tampere Finland. 26.5.2021.

Kivimaa, P. 2020. Policy interplay in low-carbon sustainability transitions: concepts and new challenges. Guest Lecture for University of Padova, 9.4.2020

Kivimaa, P. 2020. Public policy and energy transitions. Guest Lecture for Aalto University, 30.4.2020

Kivimaa, P., Sivonen, M.H. 2020. Interplay between national security and low-carbon energy considerations from the perspective of sustainability transitions: An analysis of three European countries. International Sustainability Transitions Conference, 18.-21.8.2020. (paper available)

Kivimaa, P. 2020. Social aspects on energy transitions: insights on security, energy democracy and policy. Aalto Energy Platform, course for MSc students. 12.11.2020

Kivimaa, P. 2020. What does ‘security’ mean for sustainable low-carbon energy transitions? An analysis of interplay between energy, defence and security policies in four European countries. Guest seminar at the Finnish Institute for Foreign Affairs, 9.12.2020.

Research Team

Paula Kivimaa is an expert in policy analysis with respect to sustainability transitions, in the crossover of energy and innovation policy domains. She holds an MSc (Distinction) in Environmental Technology (Energy Policy) from Imperial College London and a PhD in Organisations and Management from Helsinki School of Economics. She currently holds a position of Research Professor in Climate and Society in SYKE. She has previously worked as Senior Researcher in SYKE (since 2003) and as Senior Research Fellow at SPRU, University of Sussex (during 2015-2019), where she retains a small affiliation.

Marja Helena Sivonen is a researcher with MSc Global and Transnational Sociology from Tampere University, and a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences in Tampere University, Finland.

Claire Mosoni is an assistant researcher with MSc in Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Development Engineering from Bordeaux University, France.

Published 2019-08-12 at 9:13, updated 2021-08-04 at 11:25