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Delivering climate action on the ground: the role of place-based climate commissions


Priestley Centre/PCAN (Place-Based Climate Action Network) joint seminar


What does it take to translate climate policy into action ‘on the ground’ to bring about transformative change?

The ESRC-funded Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN) brings together the research community and decision-makers through city-based climate commissions and theme-based platforms on finance and business.

Leeds has led the way with the innovative Leeds Climate Commission, launched in 2017, a collaborative city-wide partnership between representatives from the public, private and third sectors. The Leeds Climate Commission has produced the Leeds Carbon Roadmap, evidence-based position papers (hydrogen, aviation) and run the recent Leeds Climate Change Citizens’ Jury, as well as jointly hosting the Big Leeds Climate Conversation and a wide variety of events and workshops including for schools and on housing.

Prof Andy Gouldson of the University of Leeds will be talking about the Leeds experience and how the Leeds Climate Commission led to the wider PCAN network, which includes the founding of climate commissions in Belfast and Edinburgh.

He will be joined by PCAN Policy Fellow Dr Amanda Slevin, from the newly formed Belfast Climate Commission, which launched on 10 January 2020, who will share her experience of starting a climate commission from scratch in the very different socio-economic and political environment of Belfast.


Dr Amanda Slevin is a sociologist whose research on society-environment interactions spans multiple levels of analysis and includes: anthropogenic climate change; policy frameworks, decision-making and practices surrounding climate action and hydrocarbon extraction; energy conflicts; community climate action.

Amanda’s Irish Research Council funded doctoral research was the first academic study of hydrocarbon policy and practice within the Irish state (1956-2013); analysis of Ireland’s approach was informed by comparative research on other countries (incl. Norway) and a multi-level case study of the Corrib gas conflict. Author of ‘Gas, oil and the Irish state’ (2016, MUP), Amanda has acted as an invited expert witness during several Irish state initiated reviews of hydrocarbon and climate related policies.

As an adult educator and former community development worker, Amanda is interested in how communities collaborate to initiate transformative climate action. She works as Policy Fellow with the Place-based Climate Action Network, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). In this role, Amanda supports the work of the newly formed Belfast Climate Commission and chairs the Commission’s Community Climate Action Working Group. She is also Deputy Director of QUB’s Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action.

Andy Gouldson is Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds and a co-investigator for the ESRC-funded Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN). He is also Chair of the Leeds Climate Commission, which he helped to found in September 2017.

Andy is an inter-disciplinary social scientist with significant experience working on a range of issues relating to environmental policy and management. For the last decade, he has focused especially on climate change and on the case for, and routes, to low carbon and climate resilient development, especially in cities.

He specialises in engaged, impact-oriented research. Throughout his career, Andy has worked closely with policy makers and regulatory and development agencies at the international, national and local levels, as well as with businesses, NGOs and community groups in various countries. He is deputy director of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Economics Lead for the Coalition for Urban Transitions.


Image: Belfast Climate Commission