Science and policy interactions in Europe over 50 years

Peringe Grennfelt, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Presentation: Peringe Grennfelt.pdf

Within the area of acid rain and transboundary air pollution the interrelations between science and policy have all the way back to 1970 to a large extent taken place within formal international structures. The first initiative was the OECD project , which included a combination of monitoring and modelling of the transboundary fluxes of sulphur in Europe. The outcome was presented within OECD in 1977 concluded that air pollution was of transboundary nature and that far-reaching air quality improvements could only be reached through common actions. The outcome of the OECD project together with the initiatives within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) formed then the basis for a common Pan European monitoring network EMEP under the umbrella of OECD starting in 1977 and the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) signed in 1979.

The Convention with its unique structure of bodies both for policy development and for scientific collaboration became then the basis for further collaboration between science and policy, in particular through the monitoring networks within EMEP and the International Cooperative Programmes on Effects of Air Pollution (ICPs). The introduction and development of the Critical Loads concept and the development of the Integrated Assessment Models formed then the next steps in the interrelation between science and policy resulting in the so called second generation protocols (the 2nd Sulphur Protocol in 1994 and the Gothenburg Protocol in 1999).

After the turn of the century a new era in the science-policy interactions developed. The old structure with CLRTAP-driven monitoring and assessments has remained but it was complemented on the policy-driven side by the European Union which put much more emphasis on health effects and interactions with climate change. Within CLRTAP new initiatives were taken to include intercontinental transport and nitrogen. An important outcome was also the amendments of the Gothenburg protocol signed in 2012.

In my talk I will discuss how the Convention managed to pick up new observations and ideas and continuously develop its science in support of policy. I will also briefly point to the role of large scale experiments and international research programmes that formed a common scientific understanding. Finally I will highlight the role of other actors including the Nordic Council of Ministers and the NGOs.


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