Largely in response to the increasing number of international environmental agreements which have been signed since the beginning of the 1970s, several analysts have highlighted the role of transnational scientific and technical groups in international politics. Given that these analyses were developed to explain environmental politics, we might expect them to have something to say about the emergence of a regime on global warming. There are some notable features which distinguish this approach from those of neorealists and neoliberal institutionalists, discussed in earlier chapters.
As a contrast to neorealist theory, which stresses the difficulties in securing international cooperation, this literature addresses some factors which might explain why international cooperation has sometimes been easier to achieve than realists would expect. It is also useful in identifying why neorealists and neoliberal institutionalists over-emphasise the unity and dominance of states as actors, as it encourages us to look at the groups of people who initiate cooperation, rather than which state(s) start the process. This helps us break down the domestic-international divide, by showing how the actors who, in some circumstances, forge international cooperation have strong transnational links and operate both within the state, in formal terms, and outside it, in universities, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and so on.
Second, in contrast to neoliberal institutionalist models, cooperation is generated by specifically identified agents, rather than simply abstracted states. Neoliberal institutionalists suggest that the interdependence between states in a particular issue-area often (but not always) makes state strategies to secure cooperation viable, but they still assume an international structure largely defined by anarchy. In contrast, epistemic community models suggest a greater freedom of manoeuvre for some agents in forging cooperation.
The most recent, and currently prevalent, way of theorising in this way is the 'epistemic communities' model developed, in particular, by Peter Haas. The definition of such a community has gradually evolved. A special issue of International Organization on the approach defined what is currently the consensual definition. An epistemic community is defined there as:
a network of individuals or groups with an authoritative claim to policy-relevant knowledge within their domain of expertise...They adhere to the following: (1) shared consummatory values1 and principled beliefs; (2) shared causal beliefs or professional judgement; (3) common notions of validity based on intersubjective internally defined criteria for validating knowledge; and (4) a common policy project.
There are several points of relevance when using this approach to look at global warming.2 First, this definition leaves open the nature of the professional's knowledge; a definition which would fit would be to define knowledge, in Ernst Haas's terms, as 'the sum of technical information and of theories about that information which commands sufficient consensus at a given time among interested actors to serve as a guide to public policy designed to achieve some social goal' (Haas, 1980:367-8). The knowledge is recognised as a social construct but its relationship to an outer 'reality' is left open.3 However, it is intended to be possible, within this framework, to hold completely realist or relativist epistemological positions.4
Second, the claim to authority through which these groups may become politically empowered is through their ability to generate acceptance of their knowledge as valid. Here, the point often made is that the knowledge which they generate and control becomes politically important and influential when the consensus among the epistemic community is sufficient to be convincing to the external political community. Although it often requires the consensus to coincide with lay perceptions of the problem, this is not always the case. Much of the environmental legislation and international agreement enacted in the 1980s preceded the surge in public interest in environmental issues in industrialised countries from about 1987 onwards (Haas, 1990a:353).
It is not adequate, however, to explain their ability to generate acceptance of their knowledge through reference to the ideological hegemony of science. Different branches of the natural sciences generate different conclusions about specific causal mechanisms, and the struggle of an epistemic community is often within the natural sciences.
Third, these communities are themselves politically motivated and goal-seeking. The knowledge they generate tends to lead them to share common beliefs about a particular problem. Their transnational contacts and participation in negotiations often cement this shared view. Thus, as actors in the socio-political sphere, they tend to act towards the resolution of problems which they themselves have been instrumental in defining in the first place. The other side of this is that they develop a self-interest in maintaining themselves in international bodies and in their professional position. As Peter Sand has observed, 'Since transnational contacts enhance the professional status of participants, they create strong incentives for continuing and expanding international agreements' (Sand, 1990:29).
Fourth, it is important to remember that the implications of this approach are different from those of an approach which focuses on consensus as a spur to political action. Many authors highlight how consensual knowledge may stimulate international cooperation and action on an issue (Haas, 1980; Rothstein, 1984; Underdal, 1989; Lunde, 1991).5 It is not necessary here, however, to have full consensus between all relevant 'experts'. Thus the obvious fact that some climatologists dissent strongly from the IPCC consensus does not necessarily mean that international cooperation is unlikely. The point is that certain subgroups of the wider scientific community—i.e. the epistemic community—may be able, under certain circumstances, to make sure that it is they to whom policymakers turn under conditions of uncertainty. The evolution of this approach has been to move away from describing how knowledge acted in the international sphere, to accounting for who was generating this knowledge and acting on it politically. In Peter Haas's words, 'The ideas would be sterile without carriers' (Haas, 1992:27). Thus the actors which drove agreements such as the Mediterranean Action Plan (MedPlan) were not unitary nation states, but actors whose goals were largely transnational and were defined according to the scientific disciplines to which they belonged.
Writers who stress this approach do not suggest that this model necessarily should replace older theories. For example, Haas, in his analysis of the MedPlan, also ascribes some relevance to neorealism and historical materialism (Haas, 1990: chs 6 and 7). Many constraints are placed on the activity and influence of epistemic communities. In particular, 'epistemic agreement [is] possible only in those areas removed from the political whirl' (Haas, 1992:5). This is indeed a significant limitation on the applicability of the theory, and one to which we will return in relation to global warming. On the other hand, Adler's case of the emergence of ideas about nuclear arms control would seem to be a counterfactual to this suggestion (Adler, 1992). What these writers do emphasise is the following:
we acknowledge that systemic conditions and domestic pressures impose constraints on state behaviour, but we argue that there is still a wide degree of latitude for state action. How states identify their interests and recognize the latitude of actions deemed appropriate in specific issue-areas are functions of the manner in which the problems are understood by the policy-makers or are represented by those to whom they turn for advice under conditions of uncertainty.
There is (at least) one problematic part and one ambiguity involved in the theory which affect how we apply it to global warming, and which therefore require discussion. The problematic part is this. Haas (1990; 1990a) has argued that a feature of these groups is that they are politically empowered, by which it is meant that they have often become entrenched in national bureaucracies, especially since the establishment of
Environment Ministries in many countries in the early 1970s. He shows how, in relation to the MedPlan, many of the ecologists who had transnational contacts with other ecologists or marine biologists, and who were highly involved in the negotiation of the Climate Convention and protocols associated with the MedPlan, were also well established within their national bureaucracies (Haas, 1989). Furthermore, variance in relation to a particular state's commitment to and compliance with these agreements could be explained, in this case, in terms of how well established these groups are domestically.
The strongest supporters of the MedPlan were the countries in which the epistemic community was most active.. .Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece and Israel—the states where the epistemic community became most strongly entrenched—adopted more coherent forms of pollution control.Elsewhere—where the epistemic community was weaker— states signed and ratified the Land-Based Sources Protocol, but have not taken steps to integrate such objectives into the rest of national policy-making.
Much of this is simply because environmental agreements require a significant monitoring element, the implementation of which is necessarily delegated to scientists and technicians. However, this involves politically empowering them to provide the knowledge about what needs monitoring, how to do it, when an agreement is being breached or should be strengthened, and so on.
However, in most recent versions of the theory, the entrenchment of epistemic communities in national bureaucracies is dropped as a condition for being termed an epistemic community. Of course, as a condition for them to be politically influential, their entrenchment remains important, but it does not seem a reasonable characteristic to expect in order simply to refer to them as epistemic communities. The point here is that, if we simply say that when entrenched in bureaucracies they are influential, we fall into two problems. On the one hand such a statement is question-begging in the extreme—we need to investigate how and why these groups become politically privileged in such a way. On the other hand it is not such a huge claim to say that bits of state bureaucracies influence outcomes—the point is to see how influential these groups are relative to other parts of the state (concerning global warming, relative to energy, economics, and transport ministries in particular).
Several answers have been given to the question of how epistemic communities become politically empowered. The most simple structural precondition is that, when confronted with highly complex technical issues characterised by great uncertainty, policy-makers turn to experts for advice. These will frequently be members of epistemic communities. Haas suggests that crises offer openings for epistemic communities, as decisionmakers turn to new sources of advice (Haas, 1992:34). However, this is a part of the theory which is underdeveloped.
The ambiguity in the theory is that, in early versions of this line of analysis, these groups were assumed to be transnational in character. Many of the negotiations leading to environmental agreements which have occurred since 1970 have been organised with UNEP as the leading actor. The scientists involved in the negotiations have often been associated with UNEP, and their links to each other are manifest. They also become heavily embedded in the international organisations set up by those agreements to monitor compliance and review research (Sand, 1990:29).
However, in the more recent versions of the theory, the insistence on the transnational character of epistemic communities has been dropped (International Organization, 1992: passim). This has widened out the potential scope of the analysis by allowing epistemic communities to be purely national. The literature on which those advocating the model can draw is now much broader, and they seem to have shown a wide variety of situations in which it is applicable (International Organization, 1992: passim).
It also, however, produces two hypothetical processes of international cooperation which could occur. The first is where a purely national epistemic community manages to gain acceptance of its ideas domestically, and then the implementation of this policy nationally extends out to other states. Adler (1992) gives an example of this in relation to arms control, when the arms control community in the late 1950s and early 1960s was able to get arms control accepted as a US policy, and then set about convincing the Soviet Union's defence experts and policy-makers. Here, the theory could be combined with general theories about strategic relations and realist notions of hegemony.
However, where the epistemic community is transnational in character, a different process of cooperation would evolve, since the ideas on a particular issue would develop in several states simultaneously, if not at an even rate in all states. In this case, the role of international organisations would be greatly enhanced, and arguably the potential for much more deep-seated cooperation would be present, since it would not be susceptible to changes in the ability of the community in one state alone to maintain its privileged access to decision-makers.
To the extent that an epistemic community (or communities) exists over global warming, and to the extent that it has been able to gain a hegemonic position in policy-making fields in the major states involved, we should expect it to have been able to influence the outcome strongly. Put another way, the outcome of the negotiations on global warming ought to be explicable in terms of how well the epistemic communities had been able to secure for themselves niches in the relevant policy-making circles, either through traditional bureaucratic systems or through non-formal but recurrent access to decision-makers.6 We should, therefore, expect that the content of the signed international agreement would reflect the policy project and principled beliefs of the epistemic community.
Is there an epistemic community?
The first step we need to make is simply to ask whether there is an epistemic community or communities. While the intuitive answer to this question would be 'yes', a little, more thorough, investigation is required. We need to see if a group of people whose authority derives from their 'recognized expertise and competence...and an authoritative claim to policy-relevant knowledge' (Haas, 1992:3) exists, and if these people share the four characteristics outlined above.
I would argue that such a community does exist in relation to global warming, and can be identified around the group involved in the IPCC, especially in Working Groups I and II. It has many members who have been highly involved in WMO, in UNEP, in ICSU prior to the IPCC, and who were involved in the First World Climate Conference. It has some who go back as far as the IGY in 1957. This group was and is recognised to have 'expertise and competence' in relation to producing policy-relevant knowledge for global warming. And it does have the characteristics outlined above.
First, its members do share 'consummatory values and principled beliefs'. Despite the fact that we would expect people to differ over how to take decisions under uncertainty even if they agreed on the nature and extent of the uncertainty, the IPCC was able to produce consensual statements with regard to how it believed societies should respond. The overview of the IPCC's First Assessment Report contained many such normative beliefs. The following selection should demonstrate this:
The IPCC recommends a programme for the development and implementation of global, comprehensive and phased action for the resolution of the global warming problem under a flexible and progressive approach.
Every effort should be made to find replacements (to CFCs) that have little or no greenhouse warming potential.
Industrialized and developing countries have a common but varied responsibility in dealing with the problem of climate change and its adverse effects. The former should take the lead in two ways: i).. .Industrialized countries should adopt domestic measures to limit climate change by adapting their own economies in line with future agreements to limit emissions, ii) To co-operate with developing countries in international action without standing in the way of the latter's development by contributing additional financial resources, by appropriate transfer of technology..
These principles were elaborated on in the Scientific and Technical Declaration of the Second World Climate Conference, 'which involved 747 participants from 120 countries' (SWCC, 1990: para. 1). The declaration included statements such as:
nations should now take steps towards reducing sources and increasing sinks of greenhouse gases through national and regional actions, and negotiation of a global convention on climate change and related legal instruments.
In order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases while allowing for growth in emissions from developing countries, industrialized countries must implement reductions even greater than those required, on average, for the globe as a whole.
(SWCC, 1990: Summary Statement, para.2; and Part II, para. 4.1).7
These extracts seem to demonstrate a normative consensus between IPCC participants, a consensus which could be described as being that action should be taken to mitigate possible global warming despite the remaining uncertainties, and that such mitigation should take into account international inequalities (Lunde, 1991:153-5).8
Second, the group's members share 'causal beliefs' about the process involved in global warming. Peter Haas argued in 1990 that such a community in relation to global warming was only 'incipient', on the basis that its consensus on causal beliefs is not strong enough. 'Although atmospheric scientists speak of their certainty that some climate change is unavoidable from the introduction of greenhouse gases, they are much less sure about the timing, extent or distribution of the effects' (Haas, 1990a:359). This seems to be too strict.9 The elements of scientific consensus outlined in the IPCC report would seem to be sufficient to qualify for consensus on causal beliefs. It is also clear, as Leiv Lunde has shown, that the substantive edge of this consensus sharpened during the 1980s (Lunde, 1991:135-9).
The relevant statement in the IPCC Report which, in my view, demonstrates consensus on causal mechanisms is:
We are certain of the following: .Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resultingon average in an additional warming of the Earth' 's surface.
(Houghton et al., 1990:xi, emphasis added)
Other elements of this consensus are that 'carbon dioxide has been responsible for over half the enhanced greenhouse effect in the past'; projected increases in emissions 'will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025 and 3°C before the end of the next century'; and the topic of projected sealevels rises (Houghton et al., 1990:xi). Given the uncertainties surrounding climate science, and the rapid development of scientific knowledge during the 1970s and 1980s, a statement that they were 'certain' that current trends would warm the earth is a significant indicator of agreement on causal beliefs. Prior to this, no such certainty had been expressed by scientists as a community, rather than as individuals.
Third, the group shares 'common notions of validity based on internally defined criteria for validating knowledge'; i.e. they share an acceptance of various mechanisms for testing their beliefs about global warming, such as a number of types of models, including General Circulation Models (GCMs), the evidence of changing global average temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, or the value of their various scenarios.
This criterion is perhaps the most strained in relation to the global warming epistemic community. There have been some fierce debates over methodologies for modelling, measuring and calculating climate change. In particular, there has been great controversy over the hegemonic status of GCMs within climate modelling, which has clearly been as much about access to research funding and particular disciplinary battles as over 'purely' epistemic issues (Shackley et al, n.d.). Lunde cites two major controversies within the epistemic community. One is between the geophysicists who tend to generalise about the system as a whole, and 'ecoparticularists' (geologists, biologists, ecologists) who focus on small areas to measure change (Lunde, 1991:22). The second is over using 'palaeoanalogues', i.e. measuring prehistoric temperatures and CO2 levels through ice core samples, and using these to predict climatic changes from increased CO2 levels—a technique favoured by scientists of the one-time Soviet Union—as opposed to climate modelling, favoured by Western scientists. However, these disputes have been contained and resolved within the IPCC framework and, for example, both palaeoanalogues and modelling results were included in the first IPCC report (Lunde, 1991:28).
Finally, the members share a common policy project. An integral part of the IPCC process was the work of Working Group III on policy responses. While it was evident that WGIII was heavily politicised, it also reflected certain shared beliefs of the epistemic community: that the information and knowledge they had generated in relation to global warming was worth acting on; that uncertainty was not an excuse for inaction; that North-South inequalities needed to be addressed in responding to global warming; and that emissions of CO2 should be strongly limited. The policy project they espoused is a reflection of their shared Values and principled beliefs', as elaborated above.
In relation to the ambiguity in the theory outlined above, the community involved in global warming is genuinely transnational. While there is a predominance of scientists from the industrialised countries in general, and from the US in particular, most of the process by which scientists generated and developed their knowledge has been transnational. Thus, in relation to the discussion of the model above, we would expect the second process of cooperation to emerge; i.e. a process in which several states are involved in the formal initiation of cooperation on the issue, and where the international organisations in which the epistemic community is active are highly involved. Variance between the outcome and the prescriptions of the epistemic community would then be explained by the interventions of states where the epistemic community was not active or had not managed to secure its project as state policy.
If we look at global warming, we find two main themes. First, an epistemic community was very important, if not crucial, in relation to how global warming emerged on the political agenda. Its identification of the problem, its active fostering of a consensus on the nature of the problem, and its agency in pushing for a political response, were all important in explaining why global warming became a political issue high on the international agenda. However, once global warming became a negotiating issue, the influence of the epistemic community declined and became more diffuse. That is to say, while they still evidently had a role in defining and redefining the problem10 which had some influence on the negotiations, these were minimal relative to other factors.
This section will seek to establish that the epistemic community outlined above was extremely important in establishing global warming as a political issue about which states needed to negotiate some sort of agreement. The first part will retrace the emergence of global warming as a scientific and then a political issue through the agency of international organisations such as WMO and UNEP. Since the epistemic community was transnational and organised within those organisations, this illustrates the involvement of the epistemic community.11 The focus here is on both the evolution of the scientific consensus on global warming, and how these organisations precipitated political negotiations from this consensus. Second, it looks at the involvement of particular members of the community, many of whom have been involved in climate science and in international scientific cooperation since at least the IGY of 1957-8, and traces their active involvement in the fostering of a scientific consensus between scientists from the relevant disciplines. Third, it suggests that the epistemic community was able to get global warming on to the agenda without significant entrenchment in national bureaucracies in many countries, a paradox for the epistemic community theory as it has evolved so far.
The history of the science and the international development of climate as a political issue, described in Chapter 2, can plausibly be interpreted in terms of the effects of the development of an epistemic community on the subject. A number of points are worth making in this regard. Chapter 2 gives more detail on many of the events and developments mentioned here.
Throughout the early development of the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), participants remained primarily meteorological scientists, even while IMO was an intergovernmental body. The motivation for international scientific cooperation seems to have been partly economic, but also partly the realisation by scientists of the inevitably transnational nature of their science. The IGY stimulated the international activities which helped foster the emergence of an epistemic community among meteorologists. This can be traced through the WMO's research programmes—the World Weather Watch and the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP).
This community became increasingly aware, during the 1970s, that a significant global warming could be the result of the increase in the atmospheric concentrations of various trace gases, in particular of CO2, an increase which was largely due to human industrial activity. Part of this was simply an increased understanding of how human societies were sensitive to climatic variations; during the early 1970s, the focus of GARP's activities moved towards understanding climate and its underlying characteristics, rather than simply weather patterns (Cain, 1983:81). But there was also an increased recognition of the possibility that human activities could significantly affect climate, and therefore of the necessity of increasing research on this possibility. David Davies, then SecretaryGeneral of the WMO, was happy to declare as early as 1972 that:
Although a fully satisfactory model to forecast the climatic consequences of greater levels of carbon dioxide is not available, the best current predictions indicate that by the year 2000 the effect of added carbon dioxide will be about one-half degree Celsius warming of the average global temperature which, in some sections of the world, could have significant effects on weather patterns and agricultural and industrial productivity.
It is thus plausible to trace the evolution of the scientific consensus on global warming back to the beliefs of members of the epistemic community (see more on individuals below).12 Two conferences in the early 1970s, the Study of Man's Impact on Climate (SMIC) conference of 1971, and the conference on the 'physical basis of climate and climate modelling' in 1974 (see Chapter 2 for details), reveal the early development of awareness of the potential of climate change, and the institutionalisation of the scientific response. SMIC produced a 300-page document, which provided the background for the discussion of climate change at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. The latter, according to Lunde, was 'one of the first general climate change assessments of truly global character, with about 70 leading climatologists from all over the world participating'
(Lunde, 1991:13-14). This conference was chaired by Bert Bolin, who almost twenty years later chaired the IPCC, indicating a continuity over two decades of the people involved.
By 1979, at the World Climate Conference, WMO's climatological community was stating that it thought it 'plausible that an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can contribute to a gradual warming of the lower atmosphere, especially at high latitudes' (WMO, 1979b: 714). This is less positive than Davies's statement above, reflecting the need to produce consensus documents. However, as Lunde points out, it reveals that the consensus on the possibility of global warming had sharpened considerably during the 1970s (Lunde, 1991:73-5), as a result of research efforts coordinated under GARP. The conference also urged nations 'to foresee and to prevent potential man-made change in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity' (WMO, 1979b: 713).
During the 1980s, the scientists involved in WMO, and increasingly also in UNEP, became progressively more active in fostering what became a scientific consensus13 within the meteorological and climatological communities: that global warming was highly likely to occur and could have severe societal impacts. They were highly involved in organising the three crucial events mentioned in Chapter 2: the 'Villach Conference' of 1985; the 'Villach-Bellagio Workshops' of 1987; and the 'Toronto Conference' of 1988. More importantly, they were also instrumental in setting up the World Climate Programme (WCP) and the IPCC. These three events and two organisations established between them the scientific consensus which was widely perceived to have emerged at the end of the 1980s. Research within the WCP developed during the 1980s, and was used, in particular at the Villach Conference, to consolidate a consensus within the epistemic community on the basics of global warming. This consensus provided the impetus for the interstate negotiations on how to respond to global warming which took place in the INC. Without the activities of these scientific communities, the existence of the negotiations cannot ultimately be explained.
In the IPCC we can see the epistemic community at its most organised. It was the biggest politically organised consensus process yet undertaken to assess the state of scientific knowledge on climate change. It had many participants who had been involved in earlier assessments such as the Villach Conference, most prominently Bert Bolin, who by now chaired the IPCC. Its architects strengthened the consensus within the epistemic community, by making it dominated by geophysicists and meteorologists and largely leaving out ecologists (Lunde, 1991:85), and by what can be interpreted as at least a partially deliberate exclusion of particular scientists who held views which were deeply hostile to those of the majority of climate scientists (see Chapter 2).
The IPCC produced the most strongly worded statement of the scientific consensus to date and, as outlined above, provided evidence of its normative belief that something had to be done about global warming. While such a belief had existed at least since the World Climate Conference in 1979, the commitment had sharpened strongly by 1990.
We can also see that particular individuals actively fostered the scientific consensus on global warming and worked for a political response. These scientists can, in some sense, be seen as representative of the wider epistemic community. Bert Bolin is the prime example. He was researching on climate issues as early as 1959, following up Revelle's early research which demonstrated that not all anthropogenic CO2 was being absorbed by the oceans (Lunde, 1991:63). He was involved in 'close to all international climate assessments from 1971 to 1990' (Lunde, 1991:70). In many of these, including the 1974 Stockholm Conference on climate modelling and the IPCC itself, he was actually the Chair. Other prominent scientists who pushed for the development of climate science and for a political response include Roger Revelle, of whom it has been written that 'there are many who would never have believed in global warming if Roger Revelle had not written about it in 1957' (Beardsley, 1990:16-17), and John Houghton, Head of the UK's Meteorological Office and Chair of IPCC's Working Group I.
What is interesting in theoretical terms is that the epistemic community in this case appears to have managed to set the agenda on global warming without any significant entrenchment in national bureaucracies. While delegates to the IPCC were largely government nominated, many in fact came from outside direct government circles. Most of the members worked in universities rather than government departments or agencies (although many leading members were from Meteorological Offices), and their influence was primarily through their involvement in international organisations, and through direct access to publics, particularly in the industrialised countries.
However, these actors had much less influence over the course of the actual negotiations, certainly by comparison to the MedPlan or the Montreal Protocol. Part of this is because they had got it on to the agenda without being significantly entrenched in national bureaucracies, or because such entrenchment was erratic. It is also partly a result of the political problem structure internal to global warming.
When turning to the negotiations in the INC, we notice several things. Comparing delegates to the IPCC with those to the INC, it is clear that, while many delegates to the INC were still scientists, these were predominantly from developing countries.14 In industrialised countries, delegations had come to be dominated by foreign ministries. This is to be expected, of course, but it involved the emergence of actors who saw their primary responsibility as defending their states' perceived interest. And since the epistemic community was not politically entrenched, it was not the primary definer of state interests on global warming. There was a break in continuity in who was expressing opinions from a country on the issue. The epistemic community thus had less hold on the outcome of the negotiations.
We can also illustrate this through a comparison between the statements in the SWCC Scientific and Technical Declaration, and the final text in the convention. While some parts obviously show continuity, the substantive commitments made in the convention reveal a great disparity between the normative statements made by the epistemic community and the text of the convention.
For example, the wording of the objective of the convention bears a great resemblance to earlier statements by the epistemic community. The objective of the convention is as follows:
The ultimate objective of the Convention and any other related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
(United Nations, 1992: Article 2).
This compares well with the statement in the SWCC Scientific and Technical Declaration, which stated that 'The long-term goal should be to halt the build-up of greenhouse gases at a level that minimizes risks to society and natural ecosystems' (SWCC, 1990: para. 2). However, if we look at what the convention commits individual states to doing, there remains a great divergence from earlier recommendations of the epistemic community. On limiting emissions, the Toronto Conference had called for a reduction in the CO2 emissions of industrialised countries by 20 per cent from 1988 levels, by 2005. The SWCC Scientific and Technical Declaration said that the participants believed such reductions were possible, and indicated that they felt such an action to be desirable (SWCC, 1990: para. 8). The politicisation of the IPCC as a pre-negotiating process, and in particular Working Group III, meant that it was unable to make similar recommendations. However, the statement that greater than 60 per cent cuts in CO2 emissions would be needed to stabilise atmospheric concentrations can be interpreted as meaning that some cuts were desirable as far as the members of Working Group I were concerned. Since immediate 60 per cent cuts were not considered viable by anyone involved, there was no real reason to include such a statement, except to apply pressure for some cuts.
A more explicit call for cuts came from John Houghton, Chair of Working Group I and Head of the UK's Meteorological Office, in an article in The Financial Times at the time of the SWCC:
The first sort of action should be taken now to slow down the rate of global warming by stabilising or reducing carbon dioxide emissions (from both fossil fuel burning and deforestation). Secondly, preparation needs to be made now for the further action that is likely to be required to stabilise the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at some level by about the middle of next century.
Similarly, on reducing emissions, Bert Bolin stated that the international community was not doing enough. Speaking at the 5th Session of the INC in New York, while presenting the 1992 IPCC Supplement, he stated that existing commitments by some industrialised countries would only reduce future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 4-6 per cent. He continued:
the scenarios show that far more reaching efforts are required than are now being contemplated in order to achieve a major reduction in the rate of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere.
(quoted in ECO, 21 February 1992).15
On North-South issues, sections of the convention follow in many ways the views of the epistemic community cited above. The industrialised countries are expected in the convention to take the lead in limiting emissions, and are expected to help developing countries develop whilst limiting their emissions growth. The wording of the Second World Climate Conference is stronger,16 but, more importantly, it is reasonably clear that the wording on North-South issues was the result of more traditional political bargaining and compromise between North and South. At best, the epistemic community provided the South with an extra intellectual basis on which to argue its case, but since the disparities in emissions, on which arguments about burden-sharing are based, are so obvious, no great importance can be attributed to the epistemic community in this.
How can we account for the loss of influence by the epistemic community? It seems to me that there are two primary reasons. First, the epistemic community had only achieved a tenuous and erratic foothold in national bureaucracies. Its involvement in international organisations, its ability to link its ideas (however vaguely) to events in the 1980s (e.g. the US drought of 1988; and the 1980s being the hottest decade on record) and the public's sensitisation in industrialised countries to environmental issues in general in the 1980s, because of ozone depletion, acid rain and so on, had enabled it to get global warming on to the agenda without such a foothold. However, this did not allow it to determine the course of the negotiations. Other actors, primarily diplomats, but also actors from other sections of the state such as finance and energy ministries, were then well placed to get their own position across and secure its acceptance by governments in many countries.
What is also interesting is that there is no clear correlation between those who were involved in their national bureaucracies, and the positions their governments took once negotiations had started. For example, the US, which had played a large role in initiating the IPCC process, had a large proportion of participants who came from state bodies such as EPA, NOAA and NASA, although the final position of the US in the negotiations was widely perceived to be the most 'reactionary' of the industrialised countries. What appears to be the case is that, in some countries where it was well established, it was not sufficiently established in the right bits of the state. For example, in the US, the community was highly involved in the EPA, but this body was easily marginalised within the US political decision-making process because of its agency status and because (under Bush) it was not part of the White House.
The second, and possibly more important, reason lies in the political problem structure of global warming. As is widely recognised, a successful response to global warming has raised many more substantive issues for policy-makers than did Mediterranean pollution or ozone depletion. The costs imposed by responding are potentially much greater, since the pollutants involved go to the heart of industrial processes, particularly of energy production. Carbon dioxide is not amenable to any simple technofix in the way that CFCs—for which there are easily available substitutes—have been. Thus, the resolution of global warming is widely believed to extend into many other areas of states' jurisdiction, including energy, land-use, agriculture, economics, transport, and foreign policies.
The effect of this characteristic of global warming has been that, as it became a negotiating issue, other actors within national bureaucracies made sure that their own positions were heard. Subsequently the epistemic community found it increasingly difficult to ensure that its position was adopted as the state's, since it faced tough competition from other parts of the state. This, of course, is reminiscent of Peter Haas's statement, quoted earlier, that epistemic communities can only be influential 'in areas removed from the political whirl' (Haas, 1992:5). But such a statement begs the question: where does the political whirl start?
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