The social and scientific values that shape national climate scenarios: a comparison of the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK

This paper seeks to understand why climate information is produced differently from country to country. To do this, we critically examined and compared the social and scientific values that shaped the production of three national climate scenarios in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. A comparative analysis of documentary materials and expert interviews linked to the climate scenarios was performed. Our findings reveal a new typology of use-inspired research in climate science for decision-making: (i) innovators, where the advancement of science is the main objective; (ii) consolidators, where knowledge exchanges and networks are prioritised; and (iii) collaborators, where the needs of users are put first and foremost. These different values over what constitutes ‘good’ science for decision-making are mirrored in the way users were involved in the production process: (i) elicitation, where scientists have privileged decision-making power; (ii) representation, where multiple organisations mediate on behalf of individual users; and (iii) participation, where a multitude of users interact with scientists in an equal partnership. These differences help explain why climate knowledge gains its credibility and legitimacy differently even when the information itself might not be judged as salient and usable. If the push to deliberately co-produce climate knowledge is not sensitive to the national civic epistemology at play in each country, scientist–user interactions may fail to deliver more ‘usable’ climate information.

Skelton, M., Porter, J.J., Dessai, S. et al. Reg Environ Change (2017) 17: 2325.

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