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What do policy-makers do with scientific uncertainty? The incremental character of Swedish climate change policy-making.

Knaggård, Åsa LU (2014) In Policy Studies 35(1). p.22-39
Abstract
This article explores how policy-makers are managing scientific uncertainty in policy-making. This is done through a case study of the Swedish climate change policy process from 1975 to 2007, based on interviews and an extensive review of official publications and documents. The study shows that scientific uncertainty played a very marginal role in the development of Swedish climate politics. When faced with scientific uncertainty, policy-makers came to rely more on knowledge of what was politically possible to do, than on what was desirable from a scientific perspective. Thereby, policy-making became incremental in character. The article argues that in order to understand the dynamics involved, we need to pay attention to how scientific... (More)
This article explores how policy-makers are managing scientific uncertainty in policy-making. This is done through a case study of the Swedish climate change policy process from 1975 to 2007, based on interviews and an extensive review of official publications and documents. The study shows that scientific uncertainty played a very marginal role in the development of Swedish climate politics. When faced with scientific uncertainty, policy-makers came to rely more on knowledge of what was politically possible to do, than on what was desirable from a scientific perspective. Thereby, policy-making became incremental in character. The article argues that in order to understand the dynamics involved, we need to pay attention to how scientific knowledge and uncertainty are translated from a scientific context into a political one. These framings, done by knowledge brokers, are crucial for the use of scientific knowledge in politics. Scientific uncertainty negatively impacts scientists' willingness to act as knowledge brokers and thereby the possibility of policy-makers to use knowledge. The article argues that despite the lessons from previous research, there seems to be a need for empirically grounded studies that highlight the limits of the rational paradigm captured in, for example, evidence-based decision-making. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
scientific uncertainty, policy-making, knowledge, incrementalism, climate change, Sweden
in
Policy Studies
volume
35
issue
1
pages
22 - 39
publisher
Routledge
external identifiers
  • wos:000330684800002
  • scopus:84893719458
ISSN
0144-2872
DOI
10.1080/01442872.2013.804175
project
BECC
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f4c1ee70-058b-4711-ab5c-71c0e2b4e8bb (old id 4146194)
date added to LUP
2013-11-08 15:13:38
date last changed
2017-10-22 04:52:18
@article{f4c1ee70-058b-4711-ab5c-71c0e2b4e8bb,
  abstract     = {This article explores how policy-makers are managing scientific uncertainty in policy-making. This is done through a case study of the Swedish climate change policy process from 1975 to 2007, based on interviews and an extensive review of official publications and documents. The study shows that scientific uncertainty played a very marginal role in the development of Swedish climate politics. When faced with scientific uncertainty, policy-makers came to rely more on knowledge of what was politically possible to do, than on what was desirable from a scientific perspective. Thereby, policy-making became incremental in character. The article argues that in order to understand the dynamics involved, we need to pay attention to how scientific knowledge and uncertainty are translated from a scientific context into a political one. These framings, done by knowledge brokers, are crucial for the use of scientific knowledge in politics. Scientific uncertainty negatively impacts scientists' willingness to act as knowledge brokers and thereby the possibility of policy-makers to use knowledge. The article argues that despite the lessons from previous research, there seems to be a need for empirically grounded studies that highlight the limits of the rational paradigm captured in, for example, evidence-based decision-making.},
  author       = {Knaggård, Åsa},
  issn         = {0144-2872},
  keyword      = {scientific uncertainty,policy-making,knowledge,incrementalism,climate change,Sweden},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {22--39},
  publisher    = {Routledge},
  series       = {Policy Studies},
  title        = {What do policy-makers do with scientific uncertainty? The incremental character of Swedish climate change policy-making.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2013.804175},
  volume       = {35},
  year         = {2014},
}