Science, Policy, and Climate Change: What Role Do Scientists Have in Policymaking?

Tatyana Ruseva
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Substantial disconnect between the contributions of climate scientists and policy-makers’ reluctance to regulation and international commitment have marked the state of affairs in US climate change policy. Why has a global policy concern, such as climate change, been pioneered by US scientists but overlooked by Congressional policy-makers? How can we establish scientific expertise as a basis for institutional action in the political debate on global warming?

The purpose of the proposed paper is to elucidate the role and relative power of science in US climate change policy. Informing the interrelationship between science and policy is crucial for understanding the legitimacy and role of science in policymaking. Several theoretical perspectives contribute to our understanding of the latter: interest group mobilization and group theory (Olson 1971), agenda setting (Kingdon 1995), the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) (Jasanoff et. al. 1990, 1995) and the sociology of scientific knowledge. The relationship between scientific communities and policymakers can be described as one of mutual influence, where science surfaces both as endogenous and exogenous in the policy process.

Given the simultaneity of the science-policy relationship, the paper explores the relative impact of scientific research on the agenda of Congressional policy-makers. The central question is: Can scientific elites be effective policy entrepreneurs, and if so, what is their relative power in climate policy? To test the above proposition, I examine the causal relationship between scientific activity and Congressional attention to climate change. Quantitative analysis of the level of scientific activity, measured in number of climate-related National Research Council reports (1975-2005), and Congressional committee hearings on climate policy helps uncover the simultaneous interaction between science and policy. Results suggest a relatively weak entrepreneurial role for scientists in climate policy.

Keywords: science, policy, global climate change, policy process, agenda-setting, US Congress
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law, Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Tatyana Ruseva

Doctoral Student and Adjunct Faculty, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
Bloomington, IN, USA

While at Indiana University, I have worked as a research assistant with Prof. Matthew Auer (2003-2005). Since January 2005 I am an associate instructor, teaching Statistical Techniques and International Environmental Policy. Prior to coming to Indiana University, I interned with the American Council for the United Nations University in Washington DC (Summer 2002), where I participated in the study “International Treaty Issues Identification and Analysis”. During my undergraduate studies at Sofia University, Bulgaria (1997-2002), I worked as an intern with the Economic Policy Commission at the National Assembly of Bulgaria (April 2002) and the EU Integration Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Fall 2000). I was also a legislative research assistant at the Parliamentary Internship Program (October 2000-May 2001). I have presented my research on the role of science in US climate change policy at the 27th Conference of the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM, 2005) and have also received a best paper award for it at the 6th Young Researchers Conference at Indiana University (2006). Currently, I am a member of APPAM, the Midwest Political Science Association, and a chair of the Association of the SPEA Ph.D. Students.

Ref: I06P0452