The Place-based Climate Action Network (P-CAN)

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Grantham Research Inst on Climate Change


The Place-Based Climate Action Network (P-CAN) seeks to strengthen the links between national and international climate policy and local delivery through place-based climate action. The Network is innovative in its focus on local decision making. Clear policy signals by the government are essential, but the key to continued climate action increasingly lies at the local level, with the participation of local actors, businesses and citizens. Important decisions about low-carbon business opportunities, renewable energy investment, urban transport, energy management, buildings efficiency and the management of climate risks are decentralised and taken across the UK.

P-CAN is about engagement, impact, and the co-creation and sharing of knowledge. The Network has the following components:

1. Place-based climate change commissions: We will develop three city-level climate commissions, in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds. The concept is currently being piloted in Leeds as an innovative structure for sustained two-way, multi-level engagement between national and local policy and practice. We will work on the replication of these commissions in other local context to further broaden our reach.

2. Thematic platforms: There will be two theme-based platforms, on business engagement and green finance. These virtual networks will focus on two stakeholder groups that are particularly important for place-based climate action. They will be co-created with representatives from the business and sustainable finance community.

3. The P-CAN Flexible Fund: We will open the Network to the wider community of climate change researchers and research users by commissioning 20-30 small grants. The grants will be awarded competitively, with a focus on engagement activities, user-oriented analysis, innovative approaches and support for early-career researchers.

4. Communication and user-oriented research synthesis: An active outreach strategy will connect the place-based activities and inform wider climate action by co-producing, synthesising and communicating decision-relevant analysis. This programme of user-oriented outreach will leverage the work of P-CAN's host institutions and other ESRC investments.

P-CAN is led by an experienced team of senior academics from a diversity of backgrounds. They all have strong track records of engaging with decision processes at the local, national and/or international level. Most of them have combined academic achievements with careers in business, finance, or international development. The Network PI is a former member of the Committee on Climate Change.

The core team is supported by a full-time Network Manager, a Communications Officer and a group of Network Analysts who will provide analytical, administrative and logistics support for the five platforms (three local commissions and two thematic platforms). P-CAN will, to the maximum extent possible, leverage the existing administrative, research and engagement capabilities of its host institutions, including the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, and the Centre for Sustainability and Environmental Governance in Belfast.

P-CAN will be successful if it can inform the climate change decisions of stakeholders across the five platforms. We will focus on activities that support key UK policy objectives and their local implementation, such as the city strategies of Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds, the UK Industrial Strategy, the Clean Growth Strategy, the statutory carbon budgets, the 25-year Environment Plan, the next Climate Change Risk Assessment, the recommendations of the UK Green Finance Task Force and the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) as well as the climate strategies of Scotland and Northern Ireland. P-CAN will respond flexibly to evolving demands. This will ensure that the platforms we create become self-sustaining and can be replicated elsewhere.

Planned Impact

The aim of P-CAN is to collaborate with private, public and third-sector stakeholders in the place-based implementation of Britain's climate change objectives. P-CAN will provide local and thematic platforms for decision makers to meet, exchange information, agree measures, compare implementation strategies and identify good practice - leading to more and better-informed climate action. The stakeholders benefiting from the platforms include business representatives from sectors like energy, transport, water, infrastructure, housing and services; public sector representatives from City councils, the NHS, regulatory agencies and delivery bodies like the Environment Agency; and civil society organisations like faith groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, social enterprises as well as universities.

P-CAN wants to inform not just the implementation, but also the design of climate change objectives at the national and sub-national level. The Network will target the strategies and policy processes that are particularly salient to its stakeholders. At the national level, important processes we will inform include statutory obligations like the implementation of the 3rd, 4th and 5th carbon budget (2018-32) and the production of next Climate Change Risk Assessment (due in 2022). The 6th carbon budget (2033-37) will be decided in 2021. The government's strategy for meeting the carbon budgets is outlined in its Clean Growth Strategy, which in turn informs the UK's contribution to the Paris Agreement. The government's wider aspirations are contained in its Industrial Strategy and the 25-year Environment Plan.

At the sub-national level, Scotland has its own climate change legislation and targets, reflected in its Climate Change Plan 2018-32. Northern Ireland does not have its own climate change targets, but some specific policies are in place. Important city-level processes include the Belfast's Local Development Plan and Community Plan, as well as the Belfast Region City Deal, and Edinburgh's 2050 City Vision and the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal. Stakeholders in the financial sector are particularly interested in the recommendations made by the UK Green Finance Task Force and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).

The in-depth engagement through the five platforms is complemented by a wider outreach and research synthesis programme, which ties together the activities under the platforms and links P-CAN to a broader set of stakeholders at the local, national and also international level. We will use a range of engagement strategies and communications channels to reach them, including written material (position papers and policy briefs on topical issues such as climate and Brexit); infographics; digital communication (social media, website, videos); submissions to inquiries; events (seminars, webinars, workshops), and regular informal contact with key stakeholders. The co-creation of knowledge will be supported through the P-CAN Flexible Fund, which will be open to business, public and third sector stakeholders interested in joint outreach activities or analytical work.

More details about P-CAN's impact strategy can be found in the attachment on "Pathways to Impact".


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