Strategic appraisal of environmental risks: a contrast between the United Kingdom's Stern Review on the economics of climate change and its Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

Simon Dietz, Alec Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this article, we compare two high-profile strategic policy reviews undertaken for the U.K. government on environmental risks: radioactive waste management and climate change. These reviews took very different forms, both in terms of analytic approach and deliberation strategy. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was largely an exercise in expert modeling, building, within a cost-benefit framework, an argument for immediate reductions in carbon emissions. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, on the other hand, followed a much more explicitly deliberative and participative process, using multicriteria decision analysis to bring together scientific evidence and stakeholder and public values. In this article, we ask why the two reviews were different, and whether the differences are justified. We conclude that the differences were mainly due to political context, rather than the underpinning science, and as a consequence that, while in our view “fit for purpose,” they would both have been stronger had they been less different. Stern's grappling with ethical issues could have been strengthened by a greater degree of public and stakeholder engagement, and the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management's handling of issues of uncertainty could have been strengthened by the explicitly probabilistic framework of Stern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-142
Number of pages14
JournalRisk Analysis
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date30 Aug 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Keywords

  • strategic appraisal
  • environmental risks
  • stern review
  • economics
  • climate change
  • radioactive waste management
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • multicriteria decision analysis
  • public engagement

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  • Prizes

    Best paper award for a paper in Risk Analysis

    Morton, Alec (Recipient), 2011

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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