Keywords: acidification, integrated assessment models, RAINS model, sulphur emissions, environmental policy, environmental decisions, decision making
Use of scientific inputs for environmental policymaking: the RAINS model and the Sulfur Protocols
This article discusses the use of Integrated Assessment Models for supporting the decision-making process in environmental issues. In particular, we discuss the case of sulphur emissions and the RAINS model, used in the process of negotiation of the Oslo Protocol (signed in June 1994), in relation to new targets for sulphur emissions reductions. To illustrate how scientific tools are not simply 'neutral' we discuss the particular case of Spain during the international negotiations leading to the final Protocol. The use of models as providers of scientific inputs for policy processes has grown during recent years. They are an aid to the policy-makers who may not know in depth all the issues on which they have the responsibility of taking decisions. We argue that these tools may indeed be helpful in their technical contribution but they can also have unrecognized consequences, depending on the way in which they are used in the policy-making process. They can also be used as a means to export cultural and technological patterns to late-comers from pioneer countries in the field of environmental policy. We conclude by proposing the post-normal science approach to deal with the complexity of environmental issues and to design more effective methods for policy formation.