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VanDeveer, Stacy D. 1998. "European Politics with a Scientific Face: Transition Countries, International Environmental Assessment, and Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) Discussion Paper E-98-09. Cambridge, MA: Environment and Natural Resources Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Abstract

This paper examines the integration and participation of "peripheral" European states - many of them formerly communist "transition" states -- in assessment processes and organizations. It examines participation patterns and their ramifications in international bodies involved in the construction of consensus positions around scientific, technical and policy questions concerning transboundary air pollution in Europe. The paper describes the level and nature of these countries' participation in international environmental and scientific cooperation processes designed to build scientific consensus and convert it into international environmental policy within the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) regime, within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Numerous forms of environmental assessment and formal modeling have been used within the LRTAP organization. These assessment activities are often credited both by analysts and practitioners as having encouraged state policy makers and some publics to take stronger actions in pursuit of environmental protection. The research presented here focuses on the role of international assessment products and processes in shaping policy on the European periphery.

In general, research presented in this paper suggests variance between big players and peripheral ones along a number of factors associated with international LRTAP-related assessment: (1) the relative contribution to construction of multilateral scientific and technical consensus particularly in the form of differential levels of effects research; (2) the use of multilateral assessment processes to assist in the formulation of foreign policy positions and assert policy positions to other states; (3) the existence of domestic institutions to link assessment processes to policy making; and (4) the relative salience of LRTAP issues as compared to "larger" political and economic ones. Lastly, regarding the notion of assessments and communicative processes, this research suggests that a major component of what is being communicated via international LRTAP assessment - perhaps the major message - is the direction of the big players in European environmental politics and policy plan to take policy in the foreseeable future. When these big players reach consensus around what types of assessments they need and what kinds of policy goals such assessment serves, officials on the periphery read into this that European policy is moving in certain directions and states on the periphery best pay attention.

 

 
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