Theme 3 Uncertainties, transparency and communication


Theme 3 is directed towards the interaction between science and policy, the communication of science and how to deal with uncertainties.

The legitimacy of the agreements on reduction of transboundary air pollution becomes more important when emission reductions approach environmental target levels. Further actions will be questioned and there will be a need for more systematic analyses of uncertainties in underlying data, concepts and models. The formation of legitimacy and reliability is a multidisciplinary issue and involves aspects related to i.e. natural science, technology, economy and social science. This issue will be a main task in this sub-programme.

An important issue to deal with is the communication problems associated with the complexity of the models. Complex, dynamic multi-pollutant multi-effect strategies, such as those presently under development, are hard to communicate efficiently to different types of stakeholders. In addition to this, uncertainties related to future scenarios relevant for the description of environmental effects are of importance. Climate change is here a main factor, which will affect atmospheric transport, deposition and processes in forest soils.

The robustness of decisions in terms of the efforts (decreased emissions) needed to achieve a specified degree of environmental improvement is a key issue in this theme. If optimised approaches are to be used, the solutions need to be robust in relation to how control measures are divided between countries and sectors but also in relation to the division between compounds. Solutions that lack in robustness may be difficult to get through the negotiation process.

In the social science part of this theme an analysis of the sensitivity of different stakeholders, including the public, to the robustness in the environmental decision-making will be included.

ASTA comprises one of the few scientific environments covering practically all scientific aspects of importance for integrated assessment modelling and development of strategies. We intend to make use of this situation and have a certain sub-activity with the aim to overlook all aspects of the work under CLRTAP and CAFE in relation to transboundary air pollution and contribute to the process with evaluations, suggestions for improvements, workshops for formation of con census etc.

The entire ASTA programme is directed to contribute to policy development. This means that scientific results should be communicated without any delay and in a way that they will be fully assessed in connection with policy development. The projects in the programme already to a large extent contain activities that ensure the communication. The communication will be further developed during Phase II . This development will mean both a more directed communication of progress upcoming meetings, needs and deadlines within the various bodies and a more selected communication of results.

An important forum for presentation of the results of the ASTA programme Phase II will be the Acid Rain conference that will take place in the Czech Republic in 2005. ASTA participants are involved in the organisation and planning of the conference and several scientific presentations will be made by ASTA scientists.

The projects within Theme 3:

3.1 Scientific credibility in a complex society

3.2 Uncertainties in source effects relationships

3.3 Communication

3.4 Overall development and evaluation of regional air pollution strategies