Its Climate Change, Stupid! the Role of Think Tanks in Maintaining a Knowledge Divide in Climate Politcis. Evidence from Germany, the United States, Japan, and South Korea

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Alexander RUSER , Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany
‘Global environmental inequalities’ are often used synonymously for the asymmetric tragedy of the commons problem posed by anthropogenic climate change: polluters (mostly countries in the developed world) are less affected and more capable to deal with the consequences of global climate change than the less industrialised countries in the global south. An important aspect of this problem is the rejection of national responsibilities or the outright denial of climate change by important emitting countries.

The consequences of environmental degradation and climate change can be felt directly at the local level. In contrast, public awareness as well as an understanding of the complex interplay of local and global aspects by national electorates is highly dependent on the production and distribution of scientific knowledge. While the production of relevant knowledge is institutionalised at the international level (e.g. IPCC), national level knowledge production and modes for distributing it to political elites and the wider public differ considerably. To estimate the impact of diverse patterns of knowledge production and distribution on ‘climate scepticism’, I will focus on the influence of environmental Think Tanks.Think Tanks are said to provide applied research and impartial advice as well as political advocacy in ‘scientific disguise’. It’s therefore important to analyse their network ties to government authorities and among each other in order to estimate whether they are part of an epistemic community or forming advocacy coalitions instead. Linking the findings for selected countries (Germany, the United States, Japan, and South Korea) with the theoretical framework of differing ‘knowledge regimes’  helps estimating the consequences of an unequal access to and the distinction between a biased and a more ’neutral’ presentation of scientific findings for national climate politics and international burden sharing alike.