The UK will get an intriguing new climate research centre next week, with the launch of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and the University of Leeds. In a Q&A for Nature Reports Climate Change, I’ve interviewed Andrew Gouldson, who will co-direct the centre with Judith Rees under chairman Lord Nicholas Stern – and who envisions a strong focus on regional impacts of climate change.
CCCEP’s experts will be closely in touch with policymakers and other local stakeholders, Gouldson says, in a way that “builds both their capacity and ours — ours to do good research, and theirs to use that research to take better decisions on climate change.” One of the stakeholders, and a funder of one of the five research streams at the new centre, is the insurance company Munich Re. As I wrote last month, another new project that aims for the cutting edge of policy-relevant research is a hurricane model projection that Greg Holland is now wrapping up at NCAR – also partly insurance industry-funded. Could these academic-public-private three-ways be the way forward? Let us know in the comments.
I thought the most interesting part of the interview was what Gouldson had to say on the new UK Climate Change Act, which imposes a legally binding requirement to cut emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. Here’s an extract:
AG: At the national level, I think Britain’s been very proactive indeed. The government has been quite brave signing up to this medium- to long-term target which is really quite ambitious. But I don’t think there’s a public understanding, or possibly even a public acceptance, of what a low-carbon economy might look like — one which is 60, 70, 80 per cent decarbonized.
AB: Does that make it less likely that the policy will actually come through with results?
AG: In the next 10 to 15 years, not necessarily, because there are lots of mitigation options that are relatively affordable and technologically viable. I think the question is what happens in the phase after that. Is there a political appetite to do some really quite painful things which would involve some powerful people or parties losing out? I think there’s a need now, in the next few years, to build some sort of broad consensus on the need to shift towards a low-carbon economy.
Read the full interview here.
Image: Andrew Gouldson, photographed by Stevie Kilgour at the University of Leeds.