£6.25 million for UK environmental science research

uk environmental research, ACCESS
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£6.25 million investment will be invested into creating a five-year programme in UK environmental science research

The team will bring social scientists and organisations together, to bring more evidence-based insight to policy-making and research.

The Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science (ACCESS) five-year programme will aim to:

  1. Map, assess and learn from current expertise;
  2. Empower environmental social scientists with the knowledge and skills required to support policy or institutional changes;
  3. Create a world-class data and information hub to enable innovative solutions.

“Carbon neutrality by 2050”

The collaborative climate and environment social science programme will be led by the universities of Exeter and Surrey as part of a core team that includes:

  • University of Bath;
  • University of Leeds;
  • University of Sussex;
  • And the Natural Environment Social Research Network (Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot, Natural England, Environment Agency and Forest Research).

Economic and Social Research Council’s (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.”

Behaviour change plays a role in almost two thirds of the emissions reductions.

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. Urgent substantial action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is now required involving profound institutional and behavioural change, as well as socio-technical transitions in 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.”


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