Centre for Climate Change Transformations (C3T)

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Psychology

Abstract

The Centre for Climate Change Transformations (C3T) will be a global hub for understanding the profound changes required to address climate change. At its core, is a fundamental question of enormous social significance: how can we as a society live differently - and better - in ways that meet the urgent need for rapid and far-reaching emission reductions?

While there is now strong 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. C3T's aim is to advance society's understanding of how to transform lifestyles, organisations and social structures in order to achieve a low-carbon future, which is genuinely sustainable over the long-term.

Our Centre will focus on people as agents of transformation in four challenging areas of everyday life that impact directly on climate change but have proven stubbornly resistant to change: consumption of goods and physical products, food and diet, travel, and heating/cooling. We will work across multiple scales (individual, community, organisational, national and global) to identify and experiment with various routes to achieving lasting change in these challenging areas. In particular, we will test how far focussing on 'co-benefits' will accelerate the pace of change. Co-benefits are outcomes of value to individuals and society, over and above the benefits from reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These may include improved health and wellbeing, reduced waste, better air quality, greater social equality, security, and affordability, as well as increased ability to adapt and respond to future climate change. For example, low-carbon travel choices (such as cycling and car sharing) may bring health, social and financial benefits that are important for motivating behaviour and policy change. Likewise, aligning environmental and social with economic objectives is vital for behaviour and organisational change within businesses.

Our Research Themes recognise that transformative change requires: inspiring yet workable visions of the future (Theme 1); learning lessons from past and current societal shifts (Theme 2); experimenting with different models of social change (Theme 3); together with deep and sustained engagement with communities, business and governments, and a research culture that reflects our aims and promotes action (Theme 4).

Our Centre integrates academic knowledge from disciplines across the social and physical sciences with practical insights to generate widespread impact. Our team includes world-leading researchers with expertise in climate change behaviour, choices and governance. We will use a range of theories and research methods to fill key gaps in our understanding of transformation at different spatial and social scales, and show how to target interventions to impactful actions, groups and moments in time.

We will partner with practitioners (e.g., Climate Outreach, Greener-UK, China Centre for Climate Change Communication), policy-makers (e.g., Welsh Government) and companies (e.g., Anglian Water) to develop and test new ways of engaging with the public, governments and businesses in the UK and internationally. We will enhance citizens', organisations' and societal leaders' capacity to tackle climate change through various mechanisms, including secondments, citizens' panels, small-scale project funding, seminars, training, workshops, papers, blog posts and an interactive website. We will also experiment with transformations within academia itself, by trialling sustainable working practices (e.g., online workshops), being 'reflexive' (studying our own behaviour and its impacts on others), and making our outputs and data publically available.

Planned Impact

C3T has co-design and co-delivery at its core to ensure profound and wide-reaching impact. The Centre will engage with a range of relevant users from the private, public and third sectors, international bodies as well as citizens and communities. By working across scales, including rapidly developing countries whose emission trajectories are not yet fixed, the potential for impact on carbon outcomes will be maximised. Beneficiaries include individuals and organisations for whom climate change is already a key concern, and also for whom it is not yet significant but will become so as new policies are adopted. Indeed, a key focus for the Centre is on whether wider society can be engaged in climate change action through exploiting co-benefits (e.g., health, poverty alleviation). There are four non-academic groups of beneficiaries:

1. International and UK government departments (e.g. BEIS, Defra, DoH, DfT), devolved Welsh and Scottish administrations and local authorities (e.g. Manchester/Cardiff Councils) responsible for meeting climate change targets and SDGs via policies and engagement, especially those working on the challenging areas of consumption, diet, mobility and comfort. The UK Committee on Climate Change is another key stakeholder, responsible for providing analysis to guide policy-making. These actors will benefit from C3T's insights into how to achieve low-carbon, sustainable transformation through effective policies and interventions.
2. Third-sector organisations whose goals include addressing climate change in the challenging areas of consumption, diet, mobility and comfort (e.g. Greener-UK, WRAP). They will benefit from C3T findings on effective communication and intervention design to engage diverse societal groups.
3. Private-sector organisations (e.g. Anglian Water, Wates Group) who require decision-support tools and analysis to respond to climate change, where possible realising co-benefits (e.g., reducing energy consumption, developing markets for new services). C3T will directly test mechanisms for engaging employees, customers and stakeholders to reduce emissions and maximise economic and other co-benefits.
4. Communities and publics in the UK and beyond will benefit by being given new opportunities to share their values and visions for the future to achieve beneficial lifestyle changes and policies to reduce emissions.

C3T will deliver impact through ten pathways, further detailed in the Pathways to Impact document:
1. Practical interventions will draw on public engagement work and be co-produced with communities and organisations across sectors and scales.
2. Two-way secondments between the Centre and private, public and third-sector organisations will allow for knowledge exchange and co-production, and experience in transformative change.
3. Competitive seedcorn funding will allow stakeholders and Centre staff to work together to trial transformative initiatives in collaboration, enabling stakeholder capacity building and fostering innovation.
4. Accessible and tailored policy briefings will be produced for a range of stakeholder audiences, timed to coincide with key policy events such as the release of the next IPCC Assessment Report and the annual UNFCCC meetings.
5. C3T staff will feed Centre findings into policy decision-making through their advisory roles and responses to policy consultations.
6. Policy dissemination events will be convened in the UK, China and Brazil, and online, to help shape effective climate change policy-making at national and city levels.
7. Impact-oriented stakeholder workshops will be delivered on consumption, diet, mobility , comfort, and two cross-cutting themes.
8. Citizens' panels will be established to provide iterative critical feedback and reflection.
9. An interactive website will contain a data portal hosting Centre outputs in an accessible way.
10. A high-level, cross-sectoral Advisory Board will ensure two-way engagement and knowledge exchange.

Publications

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