Climate Adaptation Policy and Evidence Understanding the Tensions between Politics and Expertise in Public Policy
Evidence-based policymaking is often promoted within liberal democracies as the best means for government to balance political values with technical considerations. Under the evidence-based mandate, both experts and non-experts often assume that policy problems are sufficiently tractable and that experts can provide impartial and usable advice to government so that problems like climate change adaptation can be effectively addressed; at least, where there is political will to do so. This book compares the politics and science informing climate adaptation policy in Australia and the UK to understand how realistic these expectations are in practice.
At a time when both academics and practitioners have repeatedly called for more and better science to anticipate climate change impacts and, thereby, to effectively adapt, this book explains why a dearth of useful expert evidence about future climate is not the most pressing problem. Even when it is sufficiently credible and relevant for decision-making, climate science is often ignored or politicised to ensure the evidence-based mandate is coherent with prevailing political, economic and epistemic ideals. There are other types of policy knowledge too that are, arguably, much more important. This comparative analysis reveals what the politics of climate change mean for both the development of useful evidence and for the practice of evidence-based policymaking.
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Science, Evidence and Public Policy
Chapter 3. Queensland, Australia and the UK: Comparing the pursuit of climate adaptation in liberal democracies
Chapter 4. Climate adaptation evidence for policy
Chapter 5. Knowledge systems for sustainability
Chapter 6. Perceptions of the usefulness and usability of climate science and evidence for policy
Chapter 7. The politicisation and scientisation of climate risk management
Chapter 8. Evidence needs for adaptation policymaking
Chapter 9. Reconciling tensions between experts, evidence and politics
"This excellent book provides an important exploration of the way that climate and adaptation science are done, and the way they can be, and are, politicised in each step of the process from science to the development of policy. Tangney’s rich examination identifies the primacy of the legitimacy of science over its credibility and salience, and offers the significant conclusion that adaptation policy needs not only science, but also more explicit discussion of the normative priorities of government. Tangney offers policy makers an important rationale and roadmap for the development of adaptation policy." — David Schlosberg, Professor of Environmental Politics and co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney
"This study of the role of scientific evidence in the practices of climate adaptation policy-making in the UK and Australia is shocking for those who still hold to a linear-technocratic model of science advice. Tangney shows in detail for this subject that more, supposedly better climate science does not necessarily speak well to the political problems encountered. With this book he adds a significant piece to the growing body of literature on the way in which climate adaptation problems are complex, uncertain and subject to diverging values and priorities." — Professor Arthur Petersen, Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), University College London (UCL)
"This book provides a timely discussion of how science and politics interact in the evolution of adaptation policy frameworks. It is well known that the challenges presented by climate change are very broad, spanning many inter-related areas including disaster management, ecology, natural resources, infrastructure provision, human health and wellbeing. These activities all depend on both expert knowledge and lay perceptions about risks, responsibility and effective intervention. Tangney deftly characterises the modes of politicisation of policy knowledge and action that can occur in relation to climate change, and persuasively dismisses naïve forms of reliance on ‘more science’ to resolve adaptation issues." — Brian Head, Professor of Public Policy, School of Political Science, University of Queensland