IPCC and WMO

The IPCC plays a key role in a number of the ACIA chapters. It is most prominent in the Chapter 4. Future Climate Change. Modeling and Scenarios for the Arctic. In this case, both text and lead authors interviews identify the IPCC as the point of departure, frame of reference, and the standard setter in the field. "The IPCC report was the starting point for everything we did. That's where we started," said one of the lead authors.95 It appears that IPCC has served as a connection point for much of the inter-comparisons and validation of climate models. Moreover, the ACIA relies on emission scenarios developed by the IPCC, without any independent analysis of the scenarios. One could say that the IPCC provided the basic context for how these issues are discussed. IPCC is also an important data source for the description of the physical environment (temperature, precipitation, ice etc). Although the IPCC does not itself gather data, it appears to have a central role in assessing climate data and thus giving certain data sets credibility. As one lead author expressed: "And because of the IPCC process, we largely built on data sets that were constructed for that reason." Another similar data set was not selected because it "was not so internationally described and mandated."96 For ozone depletion and UV radiation, the WMO plays a similar role through its assessment processes.

The key role of the IPCC in the knowledge base for the ACIA illustrates how a global regime can come to "own" an issue to the extent that it is difficult to use any other starting point for a high-profile international impact assessment. The regime becomes the only appropriate arena for certain questions, which comes with the risk that attempts to take a radically different approach are stifled. Interview comments suggest that at least one author felt that the assessment was an example of "thinking inside the box."97 At the very beginning of the process, there were connections to previous subregional integrated assessments in the Mackenzie Basin and the Bering and Barens Sea regions but this approach appears to have been left behind.98 As a counter argument to the emphasis on the hegemonic role of the IPCC, one should note that the ACIA did depart from the gist of the IPCC reports by providing a stronger emphasis on the local scale and indigenous peoples. This suggests that strong norms and actors at the regional

95 Interview Erland Kallen, November 30, 2004.

96 Interview Gordon McBean, November 10, 2004.

97 Interview James Reist, November 8, 2004.

98 Impacts of Global Climate Change in the Arctic Regions. Report from a Workshop on the Impacts of Global Change. 25-26 April 1999. Tromse, Norway (International Arctic Science Committee 1999).

scale can help balance IPCC's central role in providing policy relevant knowledge about climate change.

The WMO also plays a role as a coordinator of the gathering and sharing of climate data. The WMO dates back over 30 years as an organization under the United Nations and even further as a network of national meteorological centers. It appears to have a central role in the framing of climate change as changes in temperature and precipitation averages over large regions. In the words of one lead author:

We are fairly fortunate in that most of the weather data, which is accumulated in the climate data base, is exchanged internationally because the daily weather projections require global coverage, so there is a free exchange.99

Without the data gathered and shared under the auspices of the WMO, it would be impossible to get large-scale pictures of climate variability and change. Similar to the IPCC, the WMO has played a role in structuring the knowledge in a certain way. Its global focus is a contrast to a local focus and a lack of overview about many parameters related to the impact of climate change where there has been no similar systematic international coordination of data gathering and data sharing. Freshwater ecosystems are a case in point.

The IPCC also plays a role in Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience. This chapter originally had the title "Assessing vulnerabilities" and the first lead author was brought on board because he had been part of an IPCC effort to advance the understanding of the concept of vulnerability and to also include discussions of adaptive capacity. "Although this was pretty well established in some sort of scholarly literature on vulnerability, the risk-hazards literature, it's something that hadn't really been in the climate impact assessment type discussion," he explained in the interview.100 ACIA's chapter on multiple stressors was not part of the original outline of the ACIA report but driven by the ACIA chair. IPCC alone can not therefore be described as a driver but previous work within IPCC can nevertheless be seen as providing the basic framing from which to start the analysis. Vulnerability was part of the global discourse of climate change, for example in the title of the report from IPCC's Working Group II: Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability. A bibliometric analysis of the literature on vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation has in fact identified the the IPCC report as a key node in the scientific networks in the knowledge domains vulnerability and adaptation.101 In the Arctic Council, the call from policy makers had often been to focus on the interaction of multiple stressors but without the explicit vulnerability framing. The extensive discussions about the chapter and the change in title could be a sign of the struggle over how this focus should be framed. Indigenous peoples sometimes voice opposition to the term vulnerability as it can be perceived as giving them a role as victims.

99 Interview John Walsh, November 8, 2004.

100 Interview James McCarthy, November 12, 2004.

101 Marco A. Janssen, Michael Schoon, Ke Weimao, and Katy Börner, "Scholarly Networks on Resilience, Vulnerability and Adaptation Within the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change," Global Environmental Change 16, (2006): 240.

It is quite clear that vulnerability as a concept, which is more prominent in IPCC's Working Group II report than in the ACIA, would not have been very foremost without this particular chapter. In the 2001 IPCC Working Group II report, vulnerability is mentioned 877 times. Adjusted for the size of the text, this is more than four and a half times more often than in the ACIA report. In the ACIA report, Chapter 17 accounts for 78 percent of all the times the word vulnerability is used. A similar pattern, but not quite as prominent, is visibility of the word adaptation. According to ACIA's overview document, assessing adaptation was not part of ACIA's scope because it, together with mitigation, was addressed by the UNFCCC.102 The addition of Chapter 17 thus brought the discourse on Arctic climate change more in line with the global discourse on the impacts of climate change. This is both in relation to the other ACIA chapters and in relation to the polar chapter of the Working Group II report. During the process of developing ACIA's Chapter 17, the authors were criticized for doing one of their case studies without involving local people and later adjusted the thrust of the chapter towards a case study with strong local involvement. Thus, in addition to framings from the IPCC, Arctic Council norms of indigenous participation in knowledge production were also at play in this chapter.

In terms of the policy influence on knowledge production, the eventual framing of vulnerability in the chapter on multiple stressors of the ACIA report illustrates the interplay of global and regional regimes, where an imposed framing from a global context has to confront and manage political sensitivities at the regional scale. In the Arctic context, it led to strong focus on indigenous participation in knowledge production. It suggests that the regional policy context of an assessment is important when efforts of scaling down impact assessments are now increasing and when issues such as vulnerability come to the fore.

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