Lancaster researcher takes leading role in UK Climate Assembly


Professor Rebecca Willis

A Lancaster University Professor in Practice is taking a leading role in the Climate Assembly UK.

Climate and energy policy expert, Rebecca Willis, Professor in Practice at Lancaster University’s Environment Centre, will be one of four Expert Leads appointed to the new Assembly.

Climate Assembly UK is a new initiative bringing together 110 members, drawn from 30,000 households randomly selected from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Assembly membership will reflect the UK population in terms of a number of factors, such as age, sex, ethnic background and attitudes to climate change. Chosen members will discuss how the UK can make recommendations about what should happen.

From this week, 30,000 invitation letters will be landing on doormats across the UK – including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – inviting people to join the first UK wide citizens’ assembly on climate change.

As one of the four Expert Leads appointed to the Assembly, Dr Willis will ensure that Climate Assembly UK is:

·       Balanced, accurate and comprehensive in terms of its content on climate change;

·       Focused on the key decisions facing the UK about how to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

As part of her current ESRC-funded research, Dr Willis has spent the last five years researching UK MPs’ attitudes to climate change, and the challenges politicians face on implementing a coordinated response to climate change.

She said: “My research shows that politicians know that urgent action is needed on climate, but they are not sure how to engage people, and how to win support for a comprehensive climate strategy. The Citizens’ Assembly will allow participants to work with experts and politicians, to design a climate strategy which fits with people’s lives, values and aspirations.” 

Professor Phil Barker, Director of the Lancaster University Environment Centre said: “We are committed to excellent scientific research which sheds the clearest possible light on the social, climatic and ecological changes being experienced here and around the world and we also have a duty to ensure our research has impact. Dr Willis is one of our many researchers engaging with citizens and policy makers to ensure scientific knowledge and information is shared, heard and understood by decision makers and the population. We wish her well in this role. ”

The Expert Leads

The four Expert Leads are specialists in researching different approaches to tackling climate change. The Expert Leads are:

  • Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee of Climate Change;
  • Jim Watson, Professor of Energy Policy, University College London and Director of the UK Energy Research Centre;
  • Lorraine Whitmarsh, Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Cardiff, and Director of the UK Centre of Climate Change and Social Transformations;
  • Rebecca Willis, Professor in Practice, Lancaster University.

Climate Assembly UK was called by six select committees of the House of Commons. Staff from the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, who specialise in producing balanced information, oversee, and sign off, all work on the assembly on behalf of these committees.

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