Science

Cardiff to be home to new climate change research centre

Source: Wikimedia Commons (Athena's Pix)

By Maisie Marston

In an effort to cut emissions and address the climate crisis, the UK has been granted £5 million from the Economic and Social Research Council to establish a climate change research centre. The new Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) will be a collaboration between Cardiff University, the University of Manchester, University of York and University of East Anglia, along with the charity, Climate Outreach, but its main hub will be here in Cardiff.

The project aims to encourage change at all levels of society, not only working closely with the Welsh Government and city councils to develop ways to reduce emissions, but also by finding behaviour change techniques to break bad habits. This work could see profound changes; after Bristol City Council adopted direct activities in order to reduce emissions, the city saw a 71% reduction of carbon emissions in 2017/18 against its 2005 baseline.

The project also hopes to reduce emissions by encouraging changes on an individual scale, like cutting the amount of meat and dairy in our diets or travelling more actively. The researchers will be doing this by working with members of the public, establishing a citizens’ assembly and a young people’s panel.

The Centre will be directed by Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, who has acknowledged the recent student protests saying; “The growing school strikes movement in the UK and across the world show that young people are deeply concerned about lack of action on climate change and the impacts they will face in their own lives. We will listen carefully to their views and help convey these to policy-makers, together with concrete recommendations for change”.

Alongside the new centre, First Minister Mark Drakeford AM has also announced ‘Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales’, a strategy in which the way the Welsh Government is planning to reduce carbon emissions is detailed. Drakeford remarked that he is “delighted that […] Cardiff University will lead the establishment of this new research centre”. Drakeford went on to say that the Welsh Government had “worked closely with researchers at Cardiff and its other partner organisation to shape the projects planned by the Centre”.

He also stated that “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”. The new centre should help the United Kingdom to do their part in meeting international quotas for cutting emissions and limiting the effects of climate change.

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