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Cardiff University academic to take lead role in citizens’ assembly on climate change

25 November 2019

Lorraine Whitmarsh

The director of Cardiff University’s Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) is to be a lead expert on the new UK citizens’ assembly on climate change.

Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh is one of four experts who will support the design and delivery of the Climate Assembly UK.

The initiative, set up by MPs from across the political spectrum, will look at what people can do to cut CO2.

Citizens’ assemblies bring together people from all walks of life to discuss important issues.

They have been used all around the world, including in the UK, to help shape the work of governments and parliaments.

Earlier this month 30,000 invitations were sent out to randomly-selected households across the UK.

Of those, a group of 110 members will be chosen as a representative sample of the population.

The role of an expert lead is to ensure that Climate Assembly UK is:

  • Balanced, accurate and comprehensive
  • Focused on the key decisions facing the about how to achieve the UK government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050

The new assembly will meet in the new year, with the outcome of their discussions reported back to Parliament.

Professor Whitmarsh is an environmental psychologist, specialising in perceptions and behaviour in relation to climate change, consumption, energy, and transport.

She said: “The Climate Assembly is a really exciting opportunity for the UK public to have their say on how we as a society tackle climate change. We know the public is worried about climate change and wants action to address it.

“The Assembly will allow a diverse cross-section of the public to learn more about the issue and to vote on options and policy proposals to address it. I’m delighted to be involved in designing the Assembly to ensure it helps policy-makers and society address the climate emergency.”

Key themes for the Climate Assembly will include how people travel, what people buy and household energy use.

The outcomes of discussions will be presented to the six select committees, who will use it as a basis for detailed work on implementing its recommendations. It will also be debated in the House of Commons.

The three other expert leads on the project are:

  • Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee of Climate Change
  • Jim Watson, Professor of Energy Policy, University College London and Director of the UK Energy Research Centre
  • Rebecca Willis, Professor in Practice, Lancaster University

Professor Whitmarsh took on the role of Director of Cardiff University’s £5m Economic and Social Research Council-funded CAST Centre in May of this year.

The Centre is a global hub for understanding the systemic and society-wide transformations that are required to address climate change.

It aims to address the fundamental question of how we can live differently to meet the urgent need for rapid and far-reaching emission reductions.