The review process

According to ACIA's implementation plan, the overview was to be subject to peer review guided by the Assessment Steering Committee, and in London, they discussed how this review was to be conducted.99 The procedure that emerged was that lead authors were to review the entire document to ensure that their material was correctly represented. In addition, the Executive Committee of the Assessment Steering Committee would go through the document line by line. In the eyes of the team working on the document, it was the Assessment Steering Committee that could give it legitimacy.100

However, by now the United States had become very sensitive about the ACIA process, including the role of the overview, making allegations to the ACIA chair that it was being used to influence policy.101 It also became clear that the United States would request that the overview should go out for a national review. This shift can be interpreted that, at least for US policy makers, the scientific legitimacy vested in the Assessment Steering Committee was not sufficient enough to give the overview legitimacy. Instead legitimacy included policy-community-steered inputs into the document in a process that was more similar to IPCC's summaries for policy makers. Another interpretation is that the United States wanted to stall the overview because of its potential policy impacts.

The additional review made the time table for producing the overview tight. In addition to the review itself, there had to be enough time to do any revising and to finish the final version of the document before it was to be formally delivered to the AMAP

97 Observation notes October 14-16, 2003.

98 Letter from Bob Corell to Members of the Assessment Steering Committee and the Assessment Integration Team. Copy received from Robert Corell Nov 17, 2003

99 ACIA implementation plan September 2000

100 Observation notes London October 18, 2003

101 Interview Robert Corell November 25, 2003 and Interview 25.

Working Group and CAFF Working Group at their joint meeting in April 2004. After a round of comments from lead authors and discussions among the ACIA Executive Committee and chapter liaisons, a new draft was circulated in early February to AMAP, CAFF, IASC, and external reviewers, with comments due on March 12.102 Comments were then compiled ready to be discussed at a meeting of the Assessment Integration Team in Copenhagen March 22-24.

One whole day of the two-and a half day meeting in Copenhagen was devoted to a discussion of the review comments and how to incorporate them into the overview document. The comments ranged from general notes about structure, references, and content to specific suggestions for changes in wording. Most countries had provided the summaries as a national review. The exception was the Unites States, where the comments were given by individuals. In total, the compilation of review comments was over 150 pages.103 At the review comments meeting, the science writer and a person in the Assessment Integration Team presented their perceptions of the comments and how they could be met, after which there was a more detailed discussion. Most of this stemmed from a memo from the science writer, where she had suggested changes to meet the major criticisms.104

The Copenhagen meeting also featured a discussion about a potential preface for the overview. Based on discussion at the New Hampshire meeting a year earlier and a model that had been used in an AMAP report, Arctic Pollution Issues 2002,105 the Permanent Participants had started to prepare a preface that placed the ACIA overview in context of the indigenous peoples of the North.106 When the idea was presented to the Assessment Integration Team, it was at first met with silence. At this point in the ACIA process, anything that took up policy issues had become very sensitive. ACIA's chair laid out how the US State Department believed that the ACIA was using the overview to press a policy agenda and that it had used this belief the previous November to try and stop the overview. With that situation worked through, he was reluctant to take any action that would jeopardize the overview again. Others around the table also expressed discomfort about having something that could be seen as policy recommendations in the overview. For the Permanent Participants, the situation was different. The lack of progress in the policy process had made it important to find other fora to deliver a message from the indigenous community in the Arctic. The lack of preface could also raise questions about the legitimacy of the report to their constituents in the Arctic. One person said that if you do not have a preface, it is one more report done by outsiders. A preface would help engage the indigenous community. The Assessment Integration Team did

102 According to ACIA Secretariat's timetable dated December 19, 2003.

103 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Overview Report Expert Review - Master Collation March 15, 2004 and Addendum to the Collation March 17, 2004.

104 Memo to AIT from Susan Hassol Regarding Review Comments 3/18/04; Observation notes March 23, 2004.

105 AMAP, Arctic Pollution Issues 2002.

106 For a perspective from the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and the proposed text, see Shiela WattCloutier, Terry Fenge, and Paul Crowley, "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," in 2" is too much! Evidence and Implications of Dangerous Climate Change in the Arctic, ed. Lynn Rosentrater, 57-68 (Oslo: WWF, 2006), 61-62.

not make any definitive decision. The advice was to continue to draft but to not give it to the United States. Hope was placed with the policy process - that it would get going again and make it less urgent for the Permanent Participants to use the overview as a policy arena.107

This episode illustrates the balancing act between the need for scientific independence and credibility versus the wish to include indigenous peoples' concerns and how this balance is colored by the sensitivities of climate policy in general and the difficulties in the ACIA policy process in particular. One could interpret this as an increased need to keep science independent of policy when an issue is politically controversial - a need which was not as apparent in the preparation of the previous AMAP report on which the idea of an indigenous peoples' preface was modeled. In the background was not only global climate policy but also the colonial history of the Arctic and the role that science had played in that history with outsiders coming in and framing the picture of the Arctic. A question that was not spoken out loud but nevertheless was underlying the discussion about the preface was whose interests the ACIA should serve. This interpretation is supported by an interview about the scoping workshop in Washington in 1999, during the initial phase of the ACIA, where a representative of one of the Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council asked the question of who the assessment's client really is: the climate science community or the people living in the region.108 This discussion also illustrates different views about the interface between science and policy. For the scientists and organization representatives on the Assessment Integration Team, the scientific credibility was the essential guiding principle, which was not allowed to be put at stake by political concerns. Or pushing the interpretation one step further, scientific independence was seen as essential for ACIA to have any policy impact. The Permanent Participants were in a position where a division of science and policy was not as necessary or even desirable. On the contrary, a closer interaction, including the participation in knowledge production, increased legitimacy for their constituency.

The question of legitimacy and ownership also came up in discussion, but from a different angle, during one of the lunch breaks at the Copenhagen meeting when there was a disagreement over who had the formal responsibility for the content of the overview: the Assessment Steering Committee or AMAP and CAFF. 109 In the words of ACIA's chair: "AMAP is worried ... about the political aspects of it and they are trying to solve the political aspects by suggesting that they might have some word changes. In my view, that would violate the scientific integrity of the document, so I am very strong in that position and I will not allow that to happen."110

The political aspects that came out clearly through the review process was the criticism from the United States national reviews on the content of the overview, which was described by one reviewer as "a host of problems" with a listing that included concerns about "statements contradicting what's in the underlying chapters" and issues that painted too negative a picture: "Frequently the impact of economic development are

107 Observation notes March 22, 2004.

108 Interview 27.

109 Observation notes March 23, 2004.

110 Interview Robert Corell, March 24, 2004.

characterized in negative terms . without noting the various ways such developments also enhance human well-being and reduces environmental problems."111

Even if there were no official US national review comments but rather a collection of several individual inputs, at this point it was clear that there were questions about the extent to which the United States would be willing to stand behind ACIA's reports.112 ACIA's chair, however, continued to assert the scientific independence of the process. For example, it was his expectation that his presentations before the AMAP Working Group and CAFF Working Group, which are political bodies with national representatives, would be about how the process had been followed, and not on the content of the report.113 Three weeks later when he made his presentation at a joint AMAP-CAFF meeting in Oslo, this was also his emphasis. For example, referring back to ACIA's implementation plan, he pointed out that the final version of the overview would go back to the lead authors of the science document, who would formally sign off that the content was in line with the scientific report.114

At the AMAP-CAFF meeting, the issue of "sign-off" generated a lengthy discussion. The tone was set by the US representative who made it clear that it was important to take things in "proper sequence," i.e. they had to wait for the authors' sign-off before they could do anything.115 One issue was that the overview was not ready in its final version, but a critical question was also on what the AMAP-CAFF sign-off would entail. In previous assessments, the AMAP Working Group had never adopted the scientific report. As one delegate expressed it: We can never get universal agreement on what is in the documents. That's a scientific process.116 During an interview, one of the delegates at the meeting described the documents as follows: "These two documents are scientific documents prepared by scientific experts and indigenous experts so they stand on their merits as scientific documents."117

The overview document was thus placed into the scientific realm, in contrast to the popular science versions of previous AMAP reports, which had been discussed in detail by the AMAP Working Group and presented as theirs. With that as the general understanding around the table, the discussion focused on how to formulate a cover letter or preface that described the process, specifically the role of AMAP and CAFF. In my interpretation, this was to create a certain distance between the overview (and science sphere) and the policy sphere. This task was forwarded to a small drafting team. An early draft of this transmittal letter, or preface, placed the sole responsibility for the content of the ACIA overview with the experts from the scientific and indigenous communities and stated that AMAP and CAFF accepted the ACIA science and overview

111 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Overview Report. Expert Review - Master Collection March 15, 2004, 7-8.

112 The US delegate to AMAP in an interview described it as follows: "In the US, we did do a national review but it was in the form of finding additional peer reviewers that we selected independently of the ACIA, who commented in their capacity as experts. So there was no official US government review of either of these documents."

113 Interview Robert Corell, March 24, 2004.

114 Observation notes April 15, 2004. Presentation at the Joint AMAP-CAFF Meeting Oslo, April 15, 2004 by Robert Corell.

115 Interview 24.

116 Observation notes April 15, 2004.

117 Interview 24.

documents based on how the ACIA process had been carried out. However, the exact wording became controversial and in a later version the phrasing creates a much more clear line of responsibility between the scientific and the policy communities: "We concur that the process described in the ACIA Implementation Plan has been followed, resulting in the two documents that were prepared by a large group of scientific and indigenous experts, who are solely responsible for the content of both documents. AMAP and CAFF have received acknowledgements by the lead authors that the final scientific document reflects their expert view, and that the overview Document is consistent with the Scientific Document." There is no accepting or endorsing of the document, merely a "pleased to present these reports."118

There was no clear decision at the meeting whether the text would be a preface or transmittal letter. In the final printed version of the overview there is no text including the negotiated paragraphs.

ACIA's placing of the overview in a science-only domain was also apparent at an informal meeting of the Senior Arctic Officials in Nuuk, Greenland, just after the joint AMAP-CAFF meeting. The Nuuk meeting had been organized by the Danes as a way to get the policy process moving, but on the formal agenda was a presentation of the science in the ACIA and the overview. ACIA's chair had brought two lead authors who were also members of the Assessment Integration Team. Their presentations laid out the connections between the overview and the science document.119

As the final version of the overview was completed, lead authors were asked to formally sign off on the document as laid out during the process discussed at the joint AMAP and CAFF Meeting. After this and the technical production of the document, it was ready in time for the ACIA Scientific Conference in Reykjavik November 9-12, 2004. The day before the conference, the document had been presented in press conferences in several Arctic Countries, with wide-ranging media coverage (see further discussion in section 5.5).

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