6.25 million will be invested in creating a five year programme in UK environmental science research
The team will include social scientists from different organisations to bring more evidence-based insight into policy-making.
The five-year Advancing Climate and Environment Social Sciences (ACCESS) programme will be:
- Learn from the current expertise and map it.
- Empower environmental social scientist with the knowledge and skills needed to support policy changes or institution improvements;
- To enable innovative solutions, create a data and information hub of international standard.
“Carbon neutrality by 2050”
The universities of Exeter & Surrey will lead the collaborative climate-environment social science program as part of a core team, which includes:
- University of Bath
- University of Leeds
- University of Sussex
- The Natural Environment Social Research Network (Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot, Natural England, Environment Agency & Forest Research).
Economic and Social Research Councils (ESRC) Interim Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park, said: “The UK government has set a national target of carbon neutrality by 2050, and an interim target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035. Tackling the climate and ecological crisis requires social science research insight, leadership and coordination across disciplines to catalyse the change required.”
Nearly two-thirds of emissions reductions are due to behaviour change.
Most of this comes through consumer adoption of low-carbon technologies such as electric cars, but 8% of total emissions reductions come from directly changing practices – meaning there is hope for the emissions output of the UK to be changed.
“We are in a climate and ecological crisis”
ACCESS team lead, Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, who is also a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III, said: “We are in a climate and ecological crisis, with profound implications for humanity and our planet. We need to take urgent and substantial action to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. This will require profound institutional and behavioural changes as well as sociotechnical transitions across all sectors.
“This multi-faceted crisis demands the skills, insights and leadership of social scientists in relation to research, policy-making and action.
“We need to increase the accessibility, agility and use of social science, as well as further develop the skills required to support decision makers, and with this excellent investment and team the UK can lead the way.”