Cardiff University chosen for £5m climate change research centre

The Centre will formally start on 1st May 2019

The £5m Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation (CAST) has been set up in collaboration between Cardiff, Manchester, York and East Anglia Universities, and charity Climate Outreach and will be funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The Centre will explore how corporates and national governments can implement rapid decarbonisation processes that lower emissions while providing societal benefits. Focus areas of the centre include the consumption of goods and products; food and diet; travel and heating and cooling technologies for buildings.

The new Centre’s director, Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh of Cardiff University, said: “While there is now international momentum on action to tackle climate change, it is clear that critical targets, such as keeping global temperature rise to well within 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, will be missed without fundamental transformations across all parts of society.

“At the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, we recognise that climate change is an emergency that requires action on a far greater scale than has been seen so far. We will address the fundamental question of how we can live differently and better, in ways that meet the need for these systemic, deep and rapid emission reductions.”

Youth involvement

The Centre will aim to engage the public on matters of climate change by linking mitigation responses to societal benefits such as cleaner air and improved wellbeing. A citizen’s assembly and a young people’s panel will both be established to work with the Centre.

The inclusion of the youth panel comes after Conservative MPs, Government Ministers and green business leaders came out in support of students that missed school and went on strike for the second time in the fight against climate change. Campaigners claim that 1.4 million people took part in these strikes last week.

Charities will work with the Centre to trial practical community-level solutions to reduce household emissions using behaviour change techniques, while industry partners will be instructed to create and shape new workplace practices that lower emissions.

The researchers will work closely with the Welsh Government and city councils to develop initiatives that lower city-wide emissions and tackle climate change. Bristol City Council, for example, has recorded a 71% reduction in carbon emissions from its direct activities against a 2005 baseline, surpassing a target to reduce emissions by 65% by 2020.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said: “Achieving a low-carbon future is only possible if we all play our part. As a government, we recognise the enormity of the challenge, but we will not shirk from it. Today I’m launching Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales, which sets out how the Welsh Government plans to reduce carbon emissions.

“I’m delighted that alongside this, Cardiff University will lead the establishment of this new research centre. We’ve worked closely with researchers at Cardiff and its other partner organisation to shape the projects planned by the Centre. It’s through collaborative working like this that we can achieve the rapid and far-reaching transformations we need to bring about a sustainable, low carbon society.”

Matt Mace

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