Rebecca WillisAssociate Lecturer
I focus on environment, climate and energy policy. My current ESRC-funded research looks at UK politicians' treatment of climate change, and is a joint project between Lancaster University and Green Alliance.
My work focuses on environment, climate and energy policy. My current project at Lancaster University, a collaboration with Green Alliance, investigates how politicians understand and respond to climate change. I established Green Alliance’s Climate Leadership Programme in 2009, working with politicians to develop their understanding of climate change. The research looks at how UK Members of Parliament understand what climate change means for their role at the national level and in their constituencies, and how to best support them in taking action.
In my work on energy policy, I focus on the role of individuals within energy systems. In 2006, I published Grid 2.0: The next generation, charting how energy innovations, including distributed generation and ICT-enabled applications, implied a radically different role for the energy consumer, and required a different business and regulatory strategy. This publication, over ten years ago, was an early statement of what is now a very widely-held view. Since then, my research has included a profile of consumer-oriented low-carbon innovations (The Disrupters, published in 2007 by Nesta and Demos); several investigations into community ownership models for energy, including work for the British Academy (2016), Co-operatives UK (2011& 2015), the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and private energy developer Airvolution (unpublished consultancy); and Demanding Less, a study examining ways to integrate energy demand issues into mainstream energy policy (2011, with Prof Nick Eyre). I also act as an advisor to the Lake District National Park, where I helped to establish the UK’s first local carbon budget.
I am a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of RCUK’s Energy Programme and advise the iGov initiative at the University of Exeter. I am a Fellow of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation. From 2011-15 I was a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council, and from 2004-11,Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations. I am an Associate of the think tank Green Alliance and from 2001-4 was Green Alliance’s Director. Previously, I spent two years as a policy adviser at the European Parliament in Brussels, specialising in international environmental issues.
Research Associate and PhD Candidate, Lancaster University (2014-present)
- ESRC-funded PhD: How Members of Parliament understand and respond to climate change. CASE Studentship, with Lancaster University and Green Alliance. Submission May 2018
- Research Associate: NERC-funded project Assessing mitigation deterrence effects of greenhouse gas removal techniques (PI Dr Nils Markusson); responsibility for focus groups and engagement methodologies
- Tutor on LEC undergraduate module, Energy: Controversies and Decision-making
- Lecturer and co-tutor, LEC interdisciplinary MSc module Climate Change and Society
- Convenor of Research Training Programme module: Introduction to Engaging with Government and Politics
- Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Leadership and engagement:
- Member of policy engagement working group established by the Vice-Chancellor’s office
- Member of Lancaster University Brexit Panel, convening expertise from across the University
Independent consultancy, 2004-2017
- Climate Change Leadership Programme, Green Alliance: Founder and manager of this development programme for Members of Parliament. Backed by three main political parties in the UK; worked with over 100 MPs to date
- Energy research:
- Cultures of Community Energy: Research project for the British Academy (2015-16)
- Research and advocacy for Co-operatives UK, including two research publications, profiling the sector and putting forward policy proposals
- Research into public and community engagement in energy for private clients including Airvolution (renewable energy developer) and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (philanthropic funders)Vice-chair of the Government Shared Ownership Taskforce (2014-15)
- Research projects for Green Alliance, including publication of Demanding Less (2011); Grid 2.0 (2007); Establishment of Energy Entrepreneurs Network (2002-4)
- The Low-carbon Lake District initiative: Advising the Lake District National Park Authority on its strategic response to climate change, including establishment of the UK’s first consumption-based local carbon budget
2004-2011: Vice-Chair, Sustainable Development Commission
The UK Government’s independent advisory body on sustainable development, reporting to the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of the devolved administrations
2001 – 2004: Director, Green Alliance
1998 – 2001: Head of Policy, Green Alliance
1997 - 1998: Policy Adviser, European Parliament, Brussels
Constructing a 'representative claim' for action on climate change: Evidence from interviews with politicians
Willis, R. 6/02/2018 In: Political Studies.
How Members of Parliament Understand and Respond to Climate Change
Willis, R. 12/09/2017 In: The Sociological Review.
Taming the climate?: corpus analysis of politicians' speech on climate change
Willis, R. 03/2017 In: Environmental Politics. 26, 2, p. 212-231. 20 p.
Cultures of Community Energy: International Case Studies
Willis, R., Simcock, N., Capener, P. 2016
Energy Mentoring: Lessons for Government
Willis, R. 2015
Paris 2015: Getting a global agreement on climate change
Willis, R. 2014 Green Alliance. ISBN: 978-1-909980-18-1 .
A Community Energy Revolution
Willis, R. 2013 In: Making it Mutual. ResPublica
Co-operative Renewable Energy in the UK: A guide to this growing sector
Willis, R., Willis, J. 2011 Co-operatives UK.
Demanding Less: Why we need a new politics of energy
Willis, R., Eyre, N. 2011 Green Alliance. ISBN: 978-1-905869-52-7.
Low-Carbon Lake District: Responding to climate change in the National Park
Willis, R. 2008 Lake District National Park Authority.
The Proximity Principle: Why we are living too far apart
Willis, R. 2008 CPRE.
The Disrupters: Lessons for low-carbon innovation from the new wave of environmental pioneers
Willis, R., Webb, M., Wilsdon, J. 2007 NESTA.
A Green Living Initiative: Helping householders to achieve environmental goals
Dresner, S., Ekins, P., Willis, R. 2006 London : Policy Studies Institute. ISBN: 0954975758.
Grid 2.0: The Next Generation
Willis, R. 2006 Green Alliance. ISBN: 0 9549757 7 4.
See-through Science: Why public engagement needs to move upstream
Wilsdon, J., Willis, R. 2004 DEMOS. 69 p. ISBN: 1841801305.
From Bio to Nano and Beyond: A progressive agenda for technology, risk and the environment
Willis, R., James, W. 2003 In: The Progressive Manifesto. London : Polity Press ISBN: 0745632955.
Mind over Matter: Greening the new economy
Willis, R. 2001 In: Digital Futures. London : Earthscan ISBN: 1853838985.