The scope of climate change research has grown immensely over the last decade. Beyond the extensive efforts to map and understand how the various components of the climate system interact and respond to human forcing, academics from a range of fields are today deeply involved in the social and political struggle to develop effective and legitimate climate change policies. While initially focused on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, we have in recent years seen a growing academic interestin local, national, regional and trans-national climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.In a time when decision makers have linked such efforts to other policy areas such as energy security, finance, land use, and social development, new academic fields have also become involved in the study of climate change. Hence, climate change research is increasingly conducted at the interface between the natural and social sciences, engineering and the humanities. This development spurs self-reflection in the research community. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with the mandate to assess the latest research for decision-makers, is currently working and deliberating on how to design the nextround of assessment in the light of a widen agenda of climate change policy. It is at this dynamic interface that we find the expanding field of climate science and policy research.
Climate science and policy research is by no means a stable academic field. Rather, it is byvirtue a broad, diverse and hybrid enquiry that includes a range of epistemological, theoretical and methodological orientations. While much of the research under this umbrella has developed in parallel to (and often in direct response to) climate change policy, the field also includes a wide set of scholarly efforts to challenge and problematise the ideas and discourses underpinning such policies. This scholarly diversity may question climate science and policyresearch as a meaningful academic label. And indeed, as indicated by the various contributions to this report, the interpretations of what this field is all about vary considerably. However, despite this variety, we argue that the different academic contributions to this field converge around the quest to interpret, understand, problematise and, at times, solve the challenges facing society under a changing climate. Some of this scholarly work has, directly or indirectly, sought to inform climate change policy. In other cases climate change has emerged as a vantage point for advancing the academic understanding of how links between nature and society, science and policy, development and environment, North and South are constituted and sustained.
In this report we draw attention to a set of conceptual and methodological challenges that wethink arise from this broad scholarly enquiry. In the first chapter, Simonsson examines the importance of scale in climate change research. In order to effectively inform policy, she suggests that the academic study of climate change needs to adjust to the geographies ofclimate change policy-making. However, since science may not be able to deliver climate information at the spatial resolution asked by decision-makers, Simonsson also calls for greater scholarly awareness of the scalar challenges in climate science for policy. In the second chapter, Ostwald and Kuchler trace the conceptual genealogy of climate science and policy research. Starting in the historic development of the climate sciences, they end up in amuch more complex and inter-disciplinary research landscape. Ostwald and Kuchler ask how researchers in the field of climate science and policy research can relate to this complexity.
In the third chapter, Glaas, Friman, Wilks and Hjerpe situate climate science and policy research in the scholarly debate on Mode 1 and Mode 2 science. Following a long-standing debate on the role of science in climate policy making, they ask whether this field of enquirygains its legitimacy from autonomous basic research produced in sites distinctly demarcatedfrom the world of policy (Mode 1), or from knowledge produced in the context of application (Mode 2). While it may be challenging for scholars of climate science and policy to engage inboth modes of knowledge production at the same time, the authors point at examples where the distinction between Mode 1 and Mode 2 breaks down into a new research domain whichthey label as Mode 1.5. A similar discussion is raised by Hansson and Wibeck in chapter four.While climate science and policy research can be interpreted as an academic field in its own right, its close links to action can also result in a difficult balancing act for researchers. Drawing upon examples from public acceptance studies, Hansson and Wibeck highlight problems that arise when climate researchers advance a normative agenda and hereby influence the people they study. Finally, in chapter five, Jonsson, Lövbrand and Andersson offer examples of research produced in direct collaboration with affected stakeholders. While such participatory research. often is said to increase the legitimacy and problem-solving capacity of climate science and policy research, the authors discuss how and when thatpromise holds true.
The conceptual and methodological challenges discussed in this report are the result of a seminar series held at the Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research (CSPR) at Linköping University from autumn 2007 to spring 2008. As such the chapters reflect an ongoing debate and internal self-reflection at a centre that still is young and under development. Since its establishment in 2004, the CSPR has grown steadily and today functions as an interdisciplinary platform for more than 20 senior and junior researchers active in the field of climate science and policy research. In this report we do not set out to give a comprehensive picture of the challenges facing researchers at the CSPR, nor scholars inthe broader field of climate science and policy research. Neither is it a statement of whatCSPR is, but rather a bouquet of thoughts around our own research. By sharing our reflections with a broader scholarship, we do, however, hope that this report will contribute to theongoing debate on the scope, direction and function of this expanding and dynamic academic field.
Norrköping: Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research , 2009. 1-60 p.