CCSP needs to be strategic about the kinds of decisions to support and the scale at which such support is most urgently needed. It is also important that sufficient resources be dedicated to supporting the development of decision-support tools, which is a relatively new area of emphasis for CCSP (NRC 2004). The critical issue in decision support is to provide useful, policy-neutral information targeted for use in particular sectors and for specific applications.
For assessments intended to inform national- and international-level decisions about how to effectively manage the climate change risk, the information is being applied to issues that are apt to be highly politically charged. Thus, CCSP needs to be thoughtful about how it supports development of decision-support tools so that the information resulting from such tools is credible. The area of cost-benefit analysis is particularly challenging; for example, the IPCC has struggled with whether to conduct such analyses as part of the assessment or instead to synthesize existing analyses conducted by others. Some options would be for CCSP to (1) support the development of the needed decision-support tools; (2) encourage the appropriate science or modeling community to focus their efforts on the needs of policy makers, and then synthesize the results in a manner that will be useful to the policy-making community; or (3) commission the development and application of the requisite decision-support tools as part of the assessment process itself. An example of the third option is CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.1, in which existing tools are being used to develop new emission scenarios, analyze their impact on the energy system, and assess the costs to the economy.
Recommendation: CCSP should foster and support the development of knowledge systems that effectively build connections between those who generate scientific information and the decision makers who are most likely to benefit from access to the knowledge that is generated. One approach is to support the development of decision-support tools and applications at various scales of decision making that can be used in the context of assessments. In doing so the CCSP should identify decision-making processes of high priority or broad application that address key regional or sectoral vulnerabilities, and then evaluate the decision-support needs in those applications. New analytical and predictive tools can then be devised that have direct benefits in specific assessment applications.
Adaptive approaches are needed to continually integrate advances in knowledge into the policy context. Although it would be ideal to address each sector and region at the local, regional, and national scales while