Research findings and decision making: the case of renewable energy
Environmental Sciences Europe
Energy policies from local to global scale are increasingly questioned in terms of sustainability. Evidence-and science-based decision making in this field needs a robust and transparent integrated assessment of policy options. Nevertheless, scientific findings do not lead straight to political conclusions, and the relationship between science and decision making is a debated issue. The article discusses the main barriers to effective interaction and communication between scientific enquiry and
... entific enquiry and decision making and proposes some effective ways to overcome these barriers, starting from experiences in the biomass energy sector. Results: The article discusses the case of wood fuel, focusing on one of the European hot spots for air pollution, namely the Po Valley in Northern Italy. It proves to be an interesting case, especially because of the ambiguity between the positive and the negative aspects of wood burning, which, if not adequately integrated by information about the specific conditions that influence pollution levels, can lead to opposite political decisions about the use of wood in local energy plans. Conclusions: Starting from scientific findings, it is possible to derive guidelines about the best practices to adopt in order to reduce environmental impacts along the whole wood fuel chain. In this regard, associations of producers and of consumers and other existing networks (e.g., forestry consortia) can be very useful, either as a source of information not published in the scientific literature and as intermediaries for translating the knowledge into a more usable format and to convey information to the final targets identified (e.g., policy makers, firms, and final users).