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What Can Nature Withstand? Science, Politics and Discourses in Transboundary Air Pollution Diplomacy

Bäckstrand, Karin LU (2000) In Lund political studies 116.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Gränsöverskridande luftföroreningar ger upphov till såväl allvarliga miljöproblem ( t ex försurning, övergödning och skogskador) såsom hot mot hälsan. Denna bok analyserar den roll vetenskapliga experter spelar i de pågående internationella förhandlingarna som syftar till att reducera luftföroreningsproblemen i Europa. Samspelet mellan forskare och beslutsfattare har intensifierats sedan 80-talet då toleransgränser för ekosystem (s k kritiska belastningar) blev ett verktyg i den europeiska lufvårdsdiplomatin som omfattar ett 30-tal länder. Den övergripande idén var att politiska beslut skall baseras på vetenskapliga bedömningar om vad naturen tål. Vetenskaplig expertis mobiliserades för att... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Gränsöverskridande luftföroreningar ger upphov till såväl allvarliga miljöproblem ( t ex försurning, övergödning och skogskador) såsom hot mot hälsan. Denna bok analyserar den roll vetenskapliga experter spelar i de pågående internationella förhandlingarna som syftar till att reducera luftföroreningsproblemen i Europa. Samspelet mellan forskare och beslutsfattare har intensifierats sedan 80-talet då toleransgränser för ekosystem (s k kritiska belastningar) blev ett verktyg i den europeiska lufvårdsdiplomatin som omfattar ett 30-tal länder. Den övergripande idén var att politiska beslut skall baseras på vetenskapliga bedömningar om vad naturen tål. Vetenskaplig expertis mobiliserades för att fastställa toleransgränser för olika ekosystem, vilket sedermera har skapat en vetenskapsdriven beslutsprocess. I studien analyseras hur begreppet kritiska belastningar myntades och gradvis anammades och hur det användes i förhandlingarna av det s k Göteborgsprotokollet. Förhandlingarna av detta avtal mellan 1994 och 1999 har betraktats som den hittillsvarande mest komplexa politiska process på den internationella miljöpolitiska arenan. Forskare från olika discipliner, t ex biologi, kemi och ekologi fick en framskjuten position i förhandlingarna.



Författaren använder ett konstruktivistisk och diskursivt ramverk för att förestå interaktionen mellan forskarsamhället och politikerna i hanteringen av de gränsöverskridande luftföroreningar. I detta perspektiv betonas vikten av att översätta, förenkla och transformera komplex vetenskaplig kunskap från olika discipliner till en enklare formula som kan få gehör i beslutsfattare. Begreppet kritiska belastningar eller idén om vad naturen tål utgjorde en brygga mellan vetenskapsmän och beslutsfattare. Vetenskapliga praktiker, som modellering och systemanalys, var centrala verktyg i beslutsprocessen. Vidare diskuterar författaren den ökade betydelsen av vetenskapen i miljöpolitiken i ljuset av tre olika gröna perspektiv som betonar riskerna med expertvälde och teknokrati. Besluten riskerar att bli så tekniska att en demokratisk insyn försvåras. (Less)
Abstract
Long-range transboundary air pollution generates pressing environmental problems such as the acidification of lakes and soils, forest decline and loss of biodiversity as well as threats to human health across Europe. The overall aim of this study is to explore the role of scientific expertise in environmental diplomacy by analyzing recent international agreements in the transboundary air pollution (LRTAP) regime. The concept of critical loads, i.e. scientific assessment of ecosystem sensitivity, and the practice of integrated assessment modeling provide a decision framework in the diplomatic effort to counter air pollution.



First, a discursive framework for understanding the science–policy interface in environmental... (More)
Long-range transboundary air pollution generates pressing environmental problems such as the acidification of lakes and soils, forest decline and loss of biodiversity as well as threats to human health across Europe. The overall aim of this study is to explore the role of scientific expertise in environmental diplomacy by analyzing recent international agreements in the transboundary air pollution (LRTAP) regime. The concept of critical loads, i.e. scientific assessment of ecosystem sensitivity, and the practice of integrated assessment modeling provide a decision framework in the diplomatic effort to counter air pollution.



First, a discursive framework for understanding the science–policy interface in environmental policy–making is built by drawing on the post–positivist research agenda in constructivism, discourse analysis, international environmental politics and science studies. The theoretical contributions of the study are the development of a 1) a constructivist account of the science–policy interplay stressing the mutual construction of the scientific and policy agenda as a hybrid endeavor; 2) a discursive framework for analyzing the interplay between discourses, practices and actors as scientific knowledge is framed into policy instruments.



Secondly, in applying the framework above this study covers new empirical ground in providing an in–depth analysis of the role of science in the evolution of critical–load–based regional air pollution agreements. The discursive and institutional shift toward an effect–oriented discourse relying on the critical loads approach in the LRTAP regime is traced. The study analyzes the employment of regulatory science in the negotiation of the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, which incorporates a multipollutant–multieffect approach, has been appraised as the most complex science–policy endeavor hitherto undertaken. The various discourses surrounding the concept of critical loads as it was tailored into a multidisciplinary and multinational research agenda are explored. The competing discourses – effect–oriented, technology–oriened and cost–oriented – in the pre–negotiations and ‘political negotiations are examined. The study investigates role of modelers and scientific experts as knowledge brokers and knowledge translators and scientific practices such as modeling in synthesizing and framing scientific discourses into a comprehensible policy instrument.



Thirdly, this study critically reflects upon the rise of regulatory science in transboundary air pollution diplomacy in the light of three green perspectives, namely ecofeminism, reflexive modernization and postmodern cultural critique, which all in different ways examine the link between modernity, science and the environmental crisis. From this perspectives, the effect–oriented discourse is embedded in a larger discourse on ecological modernization paving the way for the scientization of environmental politics. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Associate Professor Sjöstedt, Gunnar
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Political and administrative sciences, discourse analysis, constructivism, science–policy interface, critical loads, international environmental politics, transboundary air pollution, Statsvetenskap, förvaltningskunskap, Environmental law, Miljörätt
in
Lund political studies
volume
116
pages
294 pages
publisher
Karin Bäckstrand, Department of Political Science, Lund University, P.O. Box 52, SE–221 00 Lund, Sweden,
defense location
Edens hörsal 135, Lund
defense date
2001-11-01 10:15
ISSN
0460-0037
ISBN
91-88306-35-6
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0f480e15-6835-4189-b434-f6e8477cb72c (old id 19752)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 12:20:04
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:58
@phdthesis{0f480e15-6835-4189-b434-f6e8477cb72c,
  abstract     = {Long-range transboundary air pollution generates pressing environmental problems such as the acidification of lakes and soils, forest decline and loss of biodiversity as well as threats to human health across Europe. The overall aim of this study is to explore the role of scientific expertise in environmental diplomacy by analyzing recent international agreements in the transboundary air pollution (LRTAP) regime. The concept of critical loads, i.e. scientific assessment of ecosystem sensitivity, and the practice of integrated assessment modeling provide a decision framework in the diplomatic effort to counter air pollution.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
First, a discursive framework for understanding the science–policy interface in environmental policy–making is built by drawing on the post–positivist research agenda in constructivism, discourse analysis, international environmental politics and science studies. The theoretical contributions of the study are the development of a 1) a constructivist account of the science–policy interplay stressing the mutual construction of the scientific and policy agenda as a hybrid endeavor; 2) a discursive framework for analyzing the interplay between discourses, practices and actors as scientific knowledge is framed into policy instruments.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Secondly, in applying the framework above this study covers new empirical ground in providing an in–depth analysis of the role of science in the evolution of critical–load–based regional air pollution agreements. The discursive and institutional shift toward an effect–oriented discourse relying on the critical loads approach in the LRTAP regime is traced. The study analyzes the employment of regulatory science in the negotiation of the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, which incorporates a multipollutant–multieffect approach, has been appraised as the most complex science–policy endeavor hitherto undertaken. The various discourses surrounding the concept of critical loads as it was tailored into a multidisciplinary and multinational research agenda are explored. The competing discourses – effect–oriented, technology–oriened and cost–oriented – in the pre–negotiations and ‘political negotiations are examined. The study investigates role of modelers and scientific experts as knowledge brokers and knowledge translators and scientific practices such as modeling in synthesizing and framing scientific discourses into a comprehensible policy instrument.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Thirdly, this study critically reflects upon the rise of regulatory science in transboundary air pollution diplomacy in the light of three green perspectives, namely ecofeminism, reflexive modernization and postmodern cultural critique, which all in different ways examine the link between modernity, science and the environmental crisis. From this perspectives, the effect–oriented discourse is embedded in a larger discourse on ecological modernization paving the way for the scientization of environmental politics.},
  author       = {Bäckstrand, Karin},
  isbn         = {91-88306-35-6},
  issn         = {0460-0037},
  keyword      = {Political and administrative sciences,discourse analysis,constructivism,science–policy interface,critical loads,international environmental politics,transboundary air pollution,Statsvetenskap,förvaltningskunskap,Environmental law,Miljörätt},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {294},
  publisher    = {Karin Bäckstrand, Department of Political Science, Lund University, P.O. Box 52, SE–221 00 Lund, Sweden,},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund political studies},
  title        = {What Can Nature Withstand? Science, Politics and Discourses in Transboundary Air Pollution Diplomacy},
  volume       = {116},
  year         = {2000},
}