Conclusions of postwar development and politics of the atmosphere

The period after World War II up until the 1990s and the firm establishment of climate science and policy into international governance can be characterized as a time of strong drive towards multilateralism as a political ideal and internationalization of science. The drivers for the internationalization of science were both political and scientific. Geopoli-tically the United States, in particular, has at times used these ideals as tools in promoting liberal democracy and keeping communism at bay, not least in relation to poor

150 IPCC, The Regional Impacts of Climate Change. An Assessment of Vulnerability. Summary for Policymakers. Special Report of Working Group II (Geneva: IPCC, 1997).

151 IPCC, The Regional Impacts of Climate Change, 8.

152 Robert Watson, "Reflections on the IPCC, published in an amendment to IPCC, 16 Years of Scientific Assessment in Support of the Climate Convention.

countries in the global South. It has also been a tool for d├ętante. Scientific interests needed international cooperation in order to understand geophysical phenomena that were global in character, this included the climate system. These interests reinforced each other and help build both technological and human networks that have been important to framing climate change as a global issue and to formalizing these networks in an intergovernmental climate regime of which the IPCC and the UNFCCC represent two different aspects.

Compared to the structural context of the early development of climate science, the post-war development thus feature a shift in the structure of international society, with a declining emphasis on nationalism and sovereignty and a growing emphasis on international cooperation. Non-governmental actors still play a key role in coordinating scientific and professional networks, ICSU being the most central such actor. However, ICSU's role became increasingly connected to intergovernmental cooperation, and as political sensitivities came to the fore, intergovernmental cooperation takes center stage. States emerge as key actors to a much greater degree than during earlier development. During the 1970s and 1980s, atmospheric scientists participated as knowledge brokers but with time their activities became increasingly structured by the intergovernmental cooperation. This is especially apparent in assessments of the science under the auspices of the IPCC. The international cooperation in climate research under the World Climate Research Programme also makes this an important feature of basic scientific research.

A second trend during the post-war years is that global North-South conflicts became increasingly apparent, reflecting a move away from colonialism as a fundamental structure of international society but retaining the economic inequalities between core and periphery. The tensions and efforts to overcome them manifest themselves in the series of UN conferences, starting in 1972, on the environment and development, and on the discourse of sustainable development.153 The tensions also come to the fore in knowledge production about climate change, where claims for universality of western science was challenged and geographical representation becames a tool for creating political legitimacy for the IPCC. The global North-South tensions can also be described in terms of former colonies increasingly challenging the colonizer's right to power over knowledge production and over the environmental policy agenda. This issue also became relevant to the Arctic, and will be further analyzed in the next section.

This period also includes changes in the framing of Arctic climate change. Initially, the focus is only on the role of Arctic physical processes in relation to the global system, while mentions of impacts on Arctic society and indigenous peoples start appearing in the later IPCC assessments.

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