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Leading experts to evaluate climate communications

Centre news
Press release

Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, is to lead a newly funded project, Climate Consortium, that will put in place national infrastructure to deliver high impact public engagement with climate change.

Climate Consortium will team the Priestley Centre with NCAS (National Centre for Atmospheric Science) and brings together experts on public engagement to evaluate the climate communications knowledge base.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded project is one of six public engagement capacity-building projects starting in October 2017. The projects, which have been funded through NERC’s Engaging Environments programme, share the total award of £500,000 and form part of NERC’s long-term plan to build strong engagement between members of the UK public and environmental science research and researchers.

The Climate Consortium project team, which is spread throughout the UK, will be work alongside a range of academic and non-academic partners. The team’s aims are to get a clearer sense of “who is doing what” on climate change communication and to analyse the most effective strategies and techniques for engaging the public.

A growing number of people, organisations and institutions are involved in the theory and practice of public engagement, and the level of interest and enthusiasm for communicating climate change is greater than ever before. Using the right approach to public engagement is important, and this is now being widely acknowledged.

Without strong and continual support from the public, meeting global goals set to tackle the effects of climate change will be difficult to achieve. Climate Consortium recognises that the science of communicating climate change is just as important as climate science, and will be developing a resource that can act as the basis for student learning, doctoral training, and practitioner campaigns, all with best available evidence base on effective public engagement.

Dr Harriett Richardson, NCAS Communications Manager and the project manager for Climate Consortium said, “We were inspired by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and decided to bring together leading experts on public engagement to evaluate the climate communication knowledge base. I’m delighted to be working with such a diverse and knowledgeable team and to be developing resources that will enable others to generate urgent public support for tackling the threat of climate change.”

NERC’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Alison Robinson, said: “‘Engaging Environments’ is a huge step towards achieving NERC’s ambitious, long-term goals for public engagement with environmental research. We are delighted to be funding such a range of innovative programmes and look forward to seeing these build bigger, better and more meaningful engagement in the enormous range of environmental topics that affect our daily lives.”

As well as Prof Forster and the Priestley Centre, the Climate Consortium project team includes researchers and public engagement practitioners from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Climate Outreach, the Royal Meteorological Society, Manchester Metropolitan University, 10:10, Cardiff University, National Centre for Earth Observation and the British Antarctic Survey.

Image: Professor Piers Forster of the Priestley International Centre for Climate with Dr Harriett Richardson, NCAS Communications Manager