Climate strikes: the challenge to research

by Clare Downing and Tina Fawcett

An estimated 2,000 school pupils and their supporters joined in a growing world-wide movement by holding a ‘climate strike’ in the centre of Oxford on 15 February, and there were similar events in other cities across the UK. A month later, and the youth climate strikes were even bigger, taking place in many more UK cities, and in over 100 countries worldwide. This youth movement was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has taken her message, that we need action not talk, to global political leaders and policymakers. Continue reading

Putting people at the heart of efforts to tackle climate change

by Lorraine Whitmarsh

There have been stark warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Committee on Climate Change that rapid, society-wide decarbonisation is needed, and that we need to work harder if we are to avoid devastating climate change.

We may have as little as a decade in which to significantly cut emissions, and doing this will require fresh thinking. So far, emission cuts have mostly been achieved by changing electricity supply. But if we’re going to tackle demand – and particularly in high-impact but challenging areas like food, transport, heating, and material consumption – we can’t do this by technological change alone. We can only do this by transforming the way we live our lives, challenging norms, and reconfiguring organisations and cities. Continue reading

Exploring partnership in a changing world

by Savita Willmott

Who contributes to “environmental solutions”? As the evidence for climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental change mounts, researchers and practitioners are increasingly trying to find new ways to motivate public and sector stakeholders to take pro-environmental actions. In order to make sure that public communication campaigns are effective, environmental communicators regularly seek out partnerships to reach audiences, often through working with communities or audience-led organisations. Continue reading

Learning to live with floods

Maggie Mort 150.jpgMaggie Mort is Professor of the sociology of science, technology and medicine at Lancaster University. She is coordinator of the EU H2020 project Cultures of Disaster Resilience Among Children and Young People (CUIDAR), which followed directly from the ESRC Urgency project Children, Young People and Flooding carried out on Humberside and in Thames Valley.

Marion Walker 150.jpgMarion Walker is a human geographer and Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University. Using innovative methodologies, she has extensive experience in working with flood-affected families in the UK and led the research on the Hull Children’s Flood Project following the severe floods of 2007.

Here they reflect on the most recent serious floods in England – within a mile of their workplace.

‘Flood warning no longer in force’, read the status for the River Conder, at Galgate Area A, within days of the flood on 22 November. But while floodwaters have retreated, what it means to be flooded is only just starting to unfold for those caught up in it. The residents who were affected and evacuated now must enter a long and uncertain period of recovery. And just like the flood-affected children we worked with in South Ferriby on Humberside after the 2013-14 tidal surge, many of these families face a Christmas in temporary accommodation or in hotels. Continue reading

Investing in energy

Jim Watson 150Jim Watson is Director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

In this piece he asks what the government can do to encourage further investment in innovation to make the UK’s energy system more flexible.

The UK energy system is changing fast. Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial revolution, is in rapid decline and low carbon technologies now generate over 50% of the UK’s power. Energy demand has fallen since the mid 2000s, driven by energy efficiency improvements and economic restructuring. Continue reading