Analysis of scientific process

The process for the ACIA scientific report illustrates that even the scientific core of an assessment involves an interaction between the science and policy spheres. This is most clear at the beginning of the process, where the scope of the assessment, chapter outlines, and lead authors were being decided. The influences are not primarily in the form of policy makers pointing to specific questions to be addressed but in the indirect influences via policy-influenced organizations which provided the networks that were used for involving people. These include the Arctic Council working groups AMAP and CAFF. Also important are experiences from the IPCC and from the US National Climate Impact Assessment. IASC, which is the most scientifically-driven organization involved, appears not to have had as strong a role once the ACIA was formally launched in the Arctic Council setting. The scientific credibility is more vested with the lead authors. Although there are some adjustments to the assessment structure later in the process, there are no major shifts in its emphasis. For example, lead authors who did not follow the initial intention of the assessment were called to question, as was the case for conservation issues, where the interests of one of the Arctic Council working groups responsible for the assessment were not met. It was possible to introduce a new topic after the structure was set - vulnerability. But this was not without controversy, and the initiative of ACIA's chair was instrumental in the inclusion of the chapter in the report.

The interactions with the policy processes are also clear in the inclusion of traditional knowledge. The Arctic Council provided indigenous peoples'organizations with a platform from which they could voice their priorities. Moreover, the norms within the Arctic Council framework would have made it difficult to ignore them. However, interview material indicates that the inclusion of traditional knowledge was further facilitated by ACIA's chair, who saw it as a priority and later presented this inclusion as a unique feature of the ACIA compared to other scientific assessments.85

Socioeconomic issues that were not related to indigenous issues do not get this preferential treatment, in spite of clearly expressed wishes from the policy community and concerns raised within the Assessment Steering Committee about the lack of discussion about impacts on industrial development. The protocols do not indicate an active resistance. Rather, the structure of the assessment and the available networks were such that they could not quite accommodate these wishes. The lack of socioeconomic expertise and mandate to assess such effects was brought up by AMAP as a point to bring to the attention of the Arctic Council, but in practice, the responsibility for socioeconomic issues was placed with the individual lead authors.86 Consequently questions they did not prioritize were left hanging. Here it looks as if the political priorities did not have much influence on the scientific assessment but rather that the disciplinary structure of academia determined the rule of the game.

As the scientific process developed, socioeconomic impacts also became of question of where the credibility of the assessment was vested. The ACIA executive director, who was lead author of the summary chapter, did not get to include results from older

85 Interviews 27, 60, 66, and 70. ACIA Presentation to Joint AMAP/CAFF Meeting April 15, 2004 by Robert Corell.

86 Minutes of the Second Meeting of Assessment Steering Group II (ASG II) of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. Toronto, Canada, November 8-10, 1999. AMAP Working Paper 99:3.

sub-regional assessments that discussed socioeconomic impact as this went against the wish of the other lead authors. This is in contrast to the success of CAFF-backed efforts to bring the treatment of conservation issues into line with CAFF's needs and a definition focusing on biodiversity. An important question thus becomes how the regime's structures can help bring one aspect forward in a scientific assessment or how the lack of a regime-backed initiative can leave other questions hanging.

Latour discusses how certain scientific understandings are black-boxed in the development of a science.87 As time progresses, they are no longer open to scientific discussion but simply taken for granted almost as text-book knowledge. In the ACIA process, the choice of emission scenarios illustrates this point. Although discussed in the modeling and scenarios workshop early in the process, the underlying assumptions of socioeconomic, political, and technological development did not become part of the scientific work in the ACIA. Rather, a group consisting primarily of climate modeling researchers chose one scenario based on their understanding of a general scientific consensus, and this became a black-boxed input into the assessment of impact of climate change. Even if there was critique in the review process and the authors agreed to more clearly justify their choice, the selection of one major emission scenario over another effectively removed a potentially contentious discussion about the role of policy for future emissions from the scientific agenda. The treatment shows how an existing global regime can effectively close off certain issues from scientific inquiry at the regional level.

Compared to the IPCC, the production of the ACIA science report could be described as a process in which science and policy are both closer and further apart. They were closer in the sense that both the scientific process and the policy outcome were both Arctic Council activities, whereas scientific assessment and climate policy at the global level are divided into the IPCC and the UNFCCC, a separation that came about because of the political nature of the climate issue. One consequence of this close formal tie in the Arctic Council was the expectation that the assessment deliver its results in time for ministers to make some policy response at a specific meeting. Another was that tensions in the policy process could easily spill over into the scientific assessment activities. In fact, the delay in production of the science document became part of a political game, which will be further discussed in connection with the policy process and overview document. There was also pressure from the assessment leadership for the lead authors to address some policy relevant questions.

The scientific and policy processes can also be described as further separated compared to the global level because there was no attempt in the scientific report to involve government representatives in negotiating text, as is the case for IPCC's summaries for policy makers, where the scientific leadership and government experts have had long detailed discussions before agreeing on the final text. An ACIA lead author with experience from the IPCC described this: "What we have with the IPCC in the summary for policy makers is something every single nation, 100 plus nations have said, we accept, literally accept the accuracy of this document ... it was an agonizing four days ... chairing this ... but when you are done you have that ownership that gives the report a permanence that means it can't be ignored. You can't say that you don't own it.88

87 Latour, Science in Action, 2-3.

88 Interview James McCarthy, November 4, 2004.

In ACIA the question of ownership was left for policy makers to negotiate in a separate policy process (see section 5.4 of this chapter).

The timing for the ACIA was set by the global regime for knowledge production about climate change - the IPCC - in that the ACIA was framed as an activity that would deliver a regional impact assessment in time to be used in the fourth IPCC assessment due in 2007. Thus one can say that the Arctic actors, as the process was defined, were not completely free to choose their own time frame. One consequence of this was that the ACIA did not have enough time to develop the regional climate models that the scientific community viewed as a priority. Instead, the assessment became based on the global models and their output for the Arctic. In relation to UV issues, the connection to IPCC's timetable appears to have made it more difficult to coordinate with the global ozone assessment conducted by the WMO, where the ties were not present from the beginning and therefore difficult to establish.

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