Analysis of early phase

Some key features of the ACIA were visible in the early phases of the process, even before its formal inception. This includes a close connection with the global climate assessments in the IPCC even to the point that ACIA's role was described, at times, as a support to the IPCC in its continued work on regional climate assessments. It is noteworthy that no strong connection was made with the global assessments of ozone depletion and ultraviolet radiation carried out by UNEP/WMO, despite the outspoken intention of including impacts of ultraviolet radiation in the ACIA. Other potentially relevant regimes, such as the cooperation in the Convention on Biodiversity, are also not specifically mentioned, whereas international scientific collaborations connected to global change research are occasionally included. One reason might be that the driving actors involved in the initiation of the ACIA and their networks had strong connections to climate science and policy, but no similarly strong connections to some of the other research fields and global science-policy processes that may have been relevant to the impact of climate change. However, actors with other interests and connections were also present, including representatives of Arctic Council working groups focused on pollution and biodiversity, and policy representatives emphasizing socioeconomic issues. Therefore, other dynamics are likely to also be at play in placing such strong focus on the IPCC. One factor could be that the structure of international environmental cooperation has divided issue areas into different regimes. It takes special measures to overcome this division and the incentives may not have been strong enough. Both governance structure and actors networks thus favored a close connection to the IPCC only. Another factor that may have further enhanced the focus on climate change in particular could have been the lack of political agreement in global climate policy and the ambition to use the Arctic to strengthen the scientific common ground to move the policy process forward. This is what AMAP had managed to do in relation to persistent organic pollutants, and according to one interview account this idea was also present in

48 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) Implementation Plan version 3.7.

49 Barrow Declaration on the occasion of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, October 13, 2000.

the early discussions.50 Supporting such a thesis is also the fact that the Arctic was singled out as appropriate for regional assessment partly because the signals of climate change were suspected to be extra strong.

An emphasis on regional stakeholders was present in the initial phase of the ACIA. This was, for example, identified as a prerequisite for a successful regional assessment in the Arctic by the actors concerned with global climate change. With the Arctic Council as the regional policy platform, these stakeholders become identified as states and indigenous peoples. At the very early phase of the ACIA, there were also some signs of discussions about the role of local stakeholders in connection with conducting subregional assessments, but this appears to be lost as the process developed.

The tension between science and policy was present from the start. On the one hand, there was a wish to have an intergovernmental platform to provide political legitimacy to the process in the region. In fact, the presence of such a platform was described as a reason for conducting the first regional climate impact assessment in the Arctic rather than somewhere else that could have been just as valuable to global climate science. On the other hand, there was a wish to clearly separate science and policy. This is apparent in the structure of the proposed reports, where policy gets its own document. This is in contrast to previous assessments within AMAP, where policy recommendations were included in the popular science overview document as a politically negotiated executive summary.51 It can also be placed in contrast to the IPCC process, where the summaries for policymakers are politically negotiated documents. Initially, the formal documentation is not explicit about who should have responsibility for the policy document and what this document should contain. However, as the process develops, there is a clear allocation of this task to the AMAP Working Group and the CAFF Working Group, which are political bodies with government representatives, as opposed to the Assessment Steering Committee, where the participation appears to have been based on covering the different aspects and interests of climate science and the organizations behind the assessment. On the science side, the integrity of the scientific process separate from political and commercial interests was stressed. Several governments also pointed out the need to keep science and policy separate. Consequently there may have been a mutual interest among policy makers and scientists to keep this separation, especially in climate change where the science has been controversial and politically challenged compared to the assessment of effects on pollution or biodiversity issues which was less so. However, the proposed structure of the assessment, with a separate document so clearly focused on policy, may also have made it more urgent to clarify responsibilities. One could interpret this as the science and policy spheres asserting authority over science and politics respectively, a matter that will be further accentuated later in the policy process.

A third point that needs to be made about the early origins of ACIA is that its inception relied upon a combination of scientific networks that linked global and regional

50 Interview Robert Corell, November 21, 2004.

51 For an analysis of the science-policy interface in the 1997/98 assessment, see Mathiassen, Vitenskap og politikk: Om produksjon og formidling av vitenskapelig kunskap i Arctic Monitoring and Assessment programme - Arktis râd.

interests, a few influential people driving the process, and the availability of a formal political regime.

In discussions with some participants in the process, it became clear that there are different views on who drove the initiation of the assessments. My interpretation is that this major assessment effort came about when global and regional interests merged. Even if major foundational work had been carried out by AMAP and that this work may have been sufficient in eventually getting the assessment off the ground, IASC created a bridge to the global assessment processes in the IPCC and to the international climate science networks, which got the ACIA going at the time it did. IASC would probably not have been able to act on its own, but it could play a role because IASC could connect to the momentum that was starting to build in AMAP. IASC was also dependent upon AMAP's political legitimacy as a working group of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council connection was also important in mustering resources for the assessment.

An analysis of the early phase of ACIA thus points to the key role of the interplay between regional and global regimes. What are the arguments against such a conclusion? For example, would an assessment of climate impacts in the Arctic have been initiated without either of the regimes? Possibly without the global regime. It is clear that climate and UV were already on the regional agenda as important issues that could affect the sustainable development of the region. However, the presence of a global ozone regime and an emerging climate regime,52 when international environmental cooperation started in the Arctic in the early 1990s, appears to have postponed large-scale involvement in these issues. Moreover, when climate change is identified as a political priority the IPCC is described as a key partner, even to the point of the Arctic assessment catering to the needs of this global climate assessment regime. Based on this, I conclude that global regimes affected the timing of the ACIA process.

For knowledge production on the regional impact of climate change to occur, the presence of a suitable regional regime appears to be necessary. A suitable regime must have high credibility to stakeholders in the region but also within the scientific community. Suitability also entails the capacity or ability to muster resources to carry out an assessment. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that there has not been a surge of any other international regional climate impact assessments, in spite of a recognized need for more knowledge about both climate processes and climate impacts at this spatial scale. A tentative policy-relevant conclusion thus could be that regional regimes with interest in scientific and environmental issues and capacity to muster sufficient resources will be important for the future development of knowledge about climate change at the regional level. Moreover, the nature of such regimes can play a role in who has a say about the focus and process for the assessment.

52 The Vienna Convention on Protecting the Ozone Layer was signed in 1985. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered its first report in 1990 and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992.

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