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Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST)

Low carbon image
Family adopting a low-carbon lifestyle.

Putting people at the heart of the transformations required to tackle climate change.

We research and develop the social transformations needed to produce a low-carbon and sustainable society. At our core, is a fundamental question of enormous social significance: how can society live differently – and better – in ways that meet the urgent need for rapid and far-reaching emission reductions?

Led by Cardiff University, the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) is a collaboration between Cardiff, Manchester, York, East Anglia and Utrecht Universities, and the charity Climate Outreach. The Centre aims to be a global hub for understanding the profound changes required to address climate change.

Our research focuses 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:

  • food and diet
  • travel
  • heating/cooling in buildings
  • consumption of goods

We work across multiple scales (individual, community, organisational, city-region, national and global) to identify and experiment with various routes to achieving lasting change in these challenging areas.

People shopping at farmers market

Working with members of the public

Working closely with members of the public to develop inspiring yet workable visions of a low-carbon future, we also aim to develop responses to climate change that emphasise parallel benefits in other areas of life: for example, through promoting wellbeing and cleaner air by moving away from a reliance on cars.

Bringing about social change at all levels of society

We have a strong practical focus, and experiment with approaches to bringing about social change at all levels of society – from households and communities, through businesses and city councils, to national government and global organisations. Examples include:

  • working with councils to develop innovative behaviour change techniques to break people’s habits and encourage low-carbon food and travel choices
  • working with charities to trial interventions at the community level to reduce emissions, such as shared mobility schemes
  • working with a range of industry partners to shape sustainable workplace practices, including lowering resource use
  • working with government bodies to develop approaches to bring down emissions, better engage the public in tackling climate change, and press for action internationally.

CAST is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).