Conclusions and discussion

The analysis of the ACIA scientific and overview reports shows that there are two different framings of Arctic climate change that can be described as a global-local dichotomy. At one end, there is an emphasis on physical aspects of the Arctic, such as ice, snow, and permafrost, as key components of the global climate system. Therefore, any change in the Arctic is likely to have repercussions for global climate change. Some biological aspects, especially carbon cycling, are also part of this discourse. At the other end, there is a focus on the complex interaction of different factors that will be important in determining the impacts of climate change at the local or sub-regional scale, be it micro-climate in ecosystems, engineering design for damage from degrading permafrost, global market forces for fisheries economy, or political influence for determining local vulnerability.

The focus on global impacts and physical systems was well established in the international science arena before the ACIA, for example by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and by major research programs in the World Climate Research Program. At this point, the ACIA may have provided a more in-depth assessment of specific issues but hardly any new framings of climate change. It illustrates how various organizations in the global regime can play a role in a regional assessment and how a regional regime provides a new arena for global scientific actor networks. For future research, networks that developed during the assessment may contribute to a better understanding of issues where the international scientific networks were not as well developed, e.g. new connections being made among people working with understanding the dynamics of tree-line movement in relation to climate change. Depending on decisions by funding agencies, the identification of major data gaps could potentially also improve data gathering and reporting in fields that previously have not been as coordinated as, for example, meteorological data gathering. Here the assessment process and its connections to a specific regime provides a more efficient funneling of demands for resources than if individual scientists acted on their own, and thus potentially mustering new resources into specific research areas.

The focus on the local level and the complex interactions of various factors might represent a new framing in relation to the view of the Arctic in global climate science, especially an introduction of the importance of cultural and political factors to the impacts of climate change. In the ACIA, these social science perspectives are closely related to indigenous peoples' participation in the assessment process and shows that the political context of a scientific assessment can have a major influence on what knowledge and perspectives are considered legitimate.

During the interviews, many of the lead authors described the ACIA as a platform for interdisciplinary discussions. However, the ACIA is very limited in its discussion of social and economic impacts on non-indigenous people and city dwellers. It appears that the assessment, with the exception of one chapter, did not connect to social scientists who could have provided input to such discussions. Neither was there any structural support for such perspectives within the Arctic Council working groups responsible for the assessment. It thus illustrates how structures such as scientific networks and governance arrangements can also create barriers for knowledge production. In this case, the open request by policy makers to include socioeconomic issues in the assessment was not a strong enough driver to overcome structural barriers set by the previous organization of knowledge production.

In the scientific assessment, the regional perspective was partly lost in the global-local dichotomy. However, in the overview document, the pan-Arctic region is given a much stronger emphasis and also given a symbolic role as the "a canary in the mine" warning system for what could be in store globally. As this framing is not as prominent in the scientific report, the immediate drivers appear to be the team that was responsible for the production of the overview and their wish to be policy relevant within the context of the global climate negotiations. A popular science genre, including attempts to draw general conclusions from an Arctic assessment, would also favor regional summaries over highlighting local complexity. An additional context that may have played a role for the regional framing is the building of a regional Arctic identity, in particular the voice of indigenous peoples in the Arctic Council and the role they have created for themselves as spokespeople for the Arctic environment.122 Thus the regional perspective is the result of an interplay between the structures of the Arctic Council and the indigenous peoples organizations as actors and, in this case, their linking to scientific actors.

In interviews, almost all lead authors of the scientific report described the work with their chapters as separate from the policy sphere, albeit they wished that their assessment would influence policy. The overview document is also organizationally set apart from the policy sphere. Nevertheless, as the analysis in this chapter has shown, the ACIA reports and the knowledge base presented are in many ways influenced by political structures. Similarly to Young's proposal for mechanisms by which institutions influence knowledge production, the ACIA illustrates how regimes privilege certain types of knowledge claims.123 The most prominent examples are the norms and decision-making procedures of the Arctic Council in relation to indigenous knowledge and the key coordinating function played by the IPCC in relation to climate modeling. Looking at ACIA's knowledge base, it is also clear that regimes play a role in the production of knowledge by framing research agendas. The most prominent example is how World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the IPCC played a role in the coordinated gathering of meteorological data. Young's highlighting of how regimes can direct knowledge production to special policy concerns is illustrated in the ACIA by its foci on attribution and carbon, which are key issues in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The ACIA also illustrates some limitations of formal political cooperation in structuring knowledge in ways that make it policy relevant. This includes the difficulties in overcoming the poor communication and networks across different scientific disciplines, as exemplified by the lack of coverage of socioeconomic issues. These point to the role of structures in academia, which are usually not part of the analysis in international relations. It also includes the difficulties of overcoming the historic East-West

122 Nuttall, "Indigenous Peoples, Self-Determination and the Arctic Environment."

123 Young, "Institutions and the Growth of Knowledge."

division of the Arctic, as exemplified by the relative lack of Russian data. To better understand how different governance arrangements influence knowledge production, it is thus important to focus also on large-scale political development and on actor networks, including their interplay with formal international cooperation. For example, the political clout and resources provided by the formal intergovernmental collaboration can strengthen existing actor networks, and the lack of strong governance arrangements can hamper the development of other networks because the political structures needed to muster the necessary resources are not there.

IV. Conclusions and discussion

Chapter 7

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