Procedural Fairness Essays

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Critical IPCC scholarship from science and technology studies (STS), political science, geography and sociology highlight among other issues, geographical imbalance of authors in favour of developed countries (Bjurström and Polk ).

These issues and several of the above-cited literature raise salient questions about the procedural fairness of the IPCC process, especially in the context of North-South climate justice.

I demonstrate how, to what end, and with what effects questions of justice and procedural fairness matter in the IPCC work.

Then, with the aim to advance crtical research, policy and practice on this important subject, I draw on scholarship from social psychology and legal procedures along with socio-political literature on the IPCC, to develop a six-component framework for evaluating procedural fairness in the IPCC.

Obviously, in the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) or any other substantive governance initiative, one could explore procedural justice in terms of the outcome because there are clear distributive effects, such as who has to reduce emissions, and how an unjust process might create or exacerbate existing unfairness (Grasso and Sacchi ).

Since it seems that an IPCC report cannot be just or unjust in this manner, and perhaps only scientifically accurate or inaccurate, some might suggest that the emphasis of IPCC procedure should not be on justice, with its strong moral and ethical connotations, but rather on ensuring rigorous and comprehensive scientific review and selecting authors and input materials that can help to achieve such an outcome.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a unique international scientific organization which plays a pivotal role in deciding international and national climate policies.Reflecting its preeminent authority to frame climate change and how it is tackled (or not), the IPCC has attracted plenty of close attention from both academic and policy commentators, with questions of participation, integrity of procedures, trust, legitimacy and accountability receiving considerable attention (Beck ).This helps to explain why even with the best effort at scientific objectivity, the IPCC report still demonstrates a bias towards powerful political interests and epistemologies (Ford et al. Hence, in facilitating a process where a diverse range of knowledge claims and views are effectively represented and considered, explicit attention to procedural fairness could mitigate or counter-balance the inevitable influences of political interests and epistemologies.In doing so, procedural fairness can help to bring about the outcome of good science, understood in terms of credible, relevant, comprehensive, and balanced assessment—all of which are objectives explicitly embraced by the IPCC. ) has demonstrated that procedural fairness promotes trust and cooperation which enhances efficiency and effectiveness in group work—all these are outcomes that many would readily embrace as desirable for the IPCC.In recognition of its unique position, the IPCC goes to considerable length to ensure the transparency of its process.The IPCC generally avoids the language of justice and fairness but rather prefers to justify its rules of procedural as well as the drive to increase the participation of authors from developing countries in terms of bolstering its credibility and legitimacy. () among others have all noted, the legitimacy of, and trust in, institutions are both strongly linked to perceptions of procedural fairness.These have included notable efforts to increase the representation of authors from developing countries, balancing the constitution of Coordinating Lead Authors, expanding the work on adaptation, and widening the remit of the chapters to deal with equity and sustainable development (Najam et al. Despite notable progress, however, there remains a strong feeling among developing countries and critical scholarship that the IPCC process and knowledge are skewed in favour of the North and that more can be done to enhance the involvement and contribution of developing countries (Pasgaard et al. While existing scholarship has done a lot to indicate the various ways in which the IPCC process raises questions of fairness, the lack of explicit attention to procedural justice means that there is still no clear framework for understanding and analysing procedural fairness in the IPCC. Critical commentary on the IPCC and calls for reforms which emanate from casual observation and socio-political analysis have important intellectual and practical utility.However, without a clear framework for conceptualizing and evaluating the procedural justice of the IPCC, it will be difficult to tackle the problem systematically and to measure progress.Rather, it has been shown that in functioning simultaneously as a scientific and an intergovernmental body, the IPCC is a boundary or hybrid organization whose constructions of climate change are shaped by both scientific and political interests (Beck ).It is the abiding presence of these political interests and calculus that raises the stake for procedural justice.


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