ESRC CAST Lorraine Whitmasrh

Project: Research council

Project Details


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.
Effective start/end date1/07/2030/04/24

Collaborative partners

  • University of Bath
  • Cardiff University (lead)
  • University of Manchester
  • University of York
  • Climate Outreach
  • Peking University
  • Federal University of Paraíba
  • Göteborg University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Utrecht


  • Economic and Social Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Climate & Climate Change
  • Media
  • Political science and international studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Political Science


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