Professor Rebecca Willis- Project lead
Rebecca Willis is a Professor in Energy and Climate Governance at Lancaster Environment Centre, where she leads the Climate Citizens project. In 2020 she was an Expert Lead for Climate Assembly UK, the Citizens’ Assembly established by the UK Parliament. Rebecca is a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation and an adviser to the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund. She features on the Woman’s Hour Our Planet Power List which highlights 30 women making an impact by helping to protect our planet. Her book, Too Hot To Handle? The democratic challenge of climate change was published by Bristol University Press in March 2020.
Previously, she was a research fellow for the IGov project at the University of Exeter, investigating energy governance. From 2015-2019 she was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of UKRI’s Energy Programme, and from 2011-15 she was a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council. She was Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations, from 2004-2011. In 2009 Rebecca founded Green Alliance’s Climate Leadership Programme, an initiative to support Members of the UK Parliament, and earlier served as Green Alliance’s Director.
Dr Jake Ainscough- Senior research associate
Jake is a Senior Research Associate at Lancaster Environment Centre and currently leads our work on embedding deliberation within the policy process. Prior to starting at Lancaster, Jake managed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change at the think tank Policy Connect and worked on sustainable finance at the University of Cambridge, where he is currently a Research Affiliate.
Jake holds a PhD in environmental governance and deliberative environmental valuation from the University of Edinburgh and has degrees in zoology and human geography as well as a Graduate Diploma in economics.
Rachel Coxcoon- PhD researcher
Rachel began doctoral research at Lancaster University in October 2021. Rachel’s interest is in understanding how political identity affects peoples’ attitudes towards both the content of climate change policy, and the processes by which climate policy is made. Her PhD is focusing on the attitudes of rural communities in England to climate policy, looking especially at how the views and concerns of people with right wing and nationalist political identities can better be understood and incorporated into climate policy-making.
Prior to starting her PhD, Rachel worked for the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, leading the organisation’s work with communities and local government. Rachel is also an elected member for Cotswold District Council, where she is Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Forward Planning, and provides training and strategic support to other local councils through her consultancy, ClimateGuide.
Pancho Lewis- PhD researcher
Pancho is a community engagement specialist with a background in political and environmental advocacy. As a Westminster City councillor, he worked with local communities to successfully press the Council to declare a Climate Emergency and introduce other environmental initiatives, and has run deliberative assemblies including acting as the lead researcher Camden Council’s 2025 Citizens’ Assembly. Prior to joining Climate Citizens, he helped grow and scale the food waste app Too Good To Go. He holds an MPhil in Politics and Democratic Education from Cambridge and an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology from Edinburgh.
Bea Natzler- Visiting fellow
Bea head up the UK Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) People and Business team. Her team builds the evidence base to inform their independent advice to government on the role of everyday people and the private sector in helping the UK reach a net zero and climate resilient future. This includes considering the potential impacts of climate change policy on different groups, and the role of public engagement. She is an economist by background and previously worked in participatory processes in humanitarian response and on international climate change programming.
She is looking forward to exploring how the CCC can most effectively draw on deliberative processes to inform its independent advice to government on climate change policy. This will include considering priority areas of focus for future deliberative processes and exploring how to embed citizen deliberation and valuation of climate outcomes into future carbon budget analysis.
David Evans- Visiting fellow
David is the Principle Behavioural Change and Engagement Officer at Birmingham City Council’s newly formed Route to Net Zero team. Tasked with the Council’s ambition to transition Birmingham to Net Zero by 2030, David is working with residents and organisations across the city on a number of policy areas.
By undertaking the non-academic fellowship with the team at Climate Citizens, David hopes to embed elements of deliberative democracy into the Council’s formal governance structure for Net Zero policymaking and produce a guiding document for future climate engagement. By drawing on the expertise of the team at Lancaster and wider academic literature, David hopes to make Birmingham’s path towards Net Zero one which is forged in partnership with residents and not just on their behalf. Crucially, David intends for his findings to be replicable at other councils, helping to fill the knowledge gap on what should follow after an initial bout of resident engagement, as has been seen with the numerous Local Climate Emergency Declarations and Climate Citizens Assemblies which have happened across the UK.
Elisa Minsart- Visiting fellow
Elisa is a PhD Candidate at the Transitions Institute of the University of Namur. Her research focuses on democratic innovations and their articulation with traditional patterns of governance. She is more precisely working on the influence of citizens’ assemblies in climate governance. She is joining the Climate Citizens Project to undertake a comparative work on the question of the role of citizens in such governance, trying to understand how the added value of public participation is understood and used in the shaping of climate policies.
Karolina Trdlicova- Visiting fellow
Karolina is currently a final year postgraduate researcher in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Nottingham, researching the discourses around bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. In her fellowship, she will be looking at what the net-zero transition means for the City of Aberdeen, which has previously and historically been referred to as the ‘Oil and Gas Capital of Europe’. She will be conducting a document analysis and pay particular attention to how different publics are viewed in this transition.
Lucy Farrow- Visiting fellow
Lucy has spent a decade helping people have a say on the decisions that affect their lives, particularly on environmental issues. To do this she uses social research, public engagement and deliberative approaches to foster productive conversations between decision makers and citizens. Lucy works as an Associate Partner at strategic research agency Britain Thinks, where she leads research and engagement for and between government, business and people.
As part of Climate Citizens Lucy will be exploring the impact of how we talk about climate change – does a good story really get half way round the world before the truth has got its boots on? She’ll be analysing conversations between real citizens about net zero with the aim of helping future dialogues be as clear and transparent as possible. She’ll also be helping to share the latest academic research on climate dialogue with practitioners, policy makers and citizens through briefing papers, blogs and interviews.
Steve Westlake- Visiting fellow
Steve researches the role of individual leadership in the climate transition. For the Climate Citizens project he is interviewing UK Members of Parliament to explore their relationship with climate change and how they view the shifting political landscape around Net Zero. This research will help to inform how NGOs, civil society, and the public can more effectively cooperate with MPs on environmental issues. He is working in conjunction with Green Alliance and The Climate Coalition, with the findings updating previous work by Rebecca Willis.
Steve also works with the Centre for Climate and Social Transformation (CAST) as a Knowledge Exchange Associate. He is completing his PhD at Cardiff University on the effects of leading by example with high-impact low-carbon behaviours, and how this influences the actions and attitudes of others. This builds on his previous dissertation research into the effects of climate leaders who choose not to fly, conducted for his Masters Degree in Climate Change Management at Birkbeck University London. Prior to this, Steve worked at the Climate Change Committee (the UK Government’s official climate change advisors) as Communications Officer, and was a magazine journalist.
Andy Yuille- Senior Research Associate
Andy is an interdisciplinary, qualitative social scientist. His research focuses on the relationships between society and environment, in particular how we make public decisions about environmental change, how public participation in decision-making is facilitated or excluded, especially through innovative practices, and how different kinds of knowledge and value are legitimised or marginalised in decision-making processes. These interests build on 15 years’ experience of working with environmental NGOs to inform and shape environmental, planning, transport, housing and economic policy.
Andy will lead a new project investigating citizen views on energy demand, working with the participation charity Involve to establish and manage a deliberative Citizens’ Panel on Energy Demand Reduction. He will also lead academic research and analysis into the interaction between energy modelling and citizen deliberation, collaborating with economists and modellers to develop robust models of energy demand which incorporate citizen views and values. This project forms part of a major new Energy Demand Research Centre, a multi-institution collaboration investigating the role of energy demand in achieving climate goals, equity and energy security, and working collaboratively with government, business and the third sector.
Liam Keelen- PhD Researcher at Lancaster University
Liam is doing his PhD at Lancaster Environment Centre. He is interested in the relationship between deliberative forums on climate change and the global political economy. His research focuses on formal and informal forums on climate policy across the UK and whether such processes disturb hegemonic forms of common sense.
Prior to joining Climate Citizens, he worked as a fossil fuel divestment researcher with Scientists for Global Responsibility and as a campaigns strategist within the animal rights movement. He holds an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Manchester
Alfie Shepherd- PhD student
Alfie is currently a postgraduate researcher at Lancaster University researching the findings of UK minipublics on climate to create a detailed picture of public attitudes to different areas of climate policy. He will be comparing these findings to current UK government policy which will identify key gaps between public priorities and government policy on climate. Alfie also holds an undergraduate degree in Geography from Lancaster University and he is particularly interested in the potential role of deliberation in creating transformative climate policy.
Lía Flattery- PhD student
Lía is studying for a PhD in the Lancaster Environment Centre where her research examines the neglect of demand side interventions in energy governance strategies and explores the question of how to govern reductions in energy demand.
She previously worked as a policy advisor at E3G, focused on political economy mapping and research on climate change governance in the UK and abroad. Prior to this, she worked across policy, research and communications in a number of climate and development focused NGOs in Ireland. She holds an MSc from UCL.
The project benefits from the input of an Advisory Board made up of climate and public engagement experts from business, academia, government and the third sector.
- Zoe Guijarro – Citizens Advice
- Gwen Buck – Uplift
- Jess Britton – University of Edinburgh
- Emma Claydon – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Helen Seagrave – Electricity North West
- Sarah Allan – Involve
- Matthew Lipson – Energy Systems Catapult
- Jason Chilvers – UK Energy Research Centre
- Stuart Capstick – Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations
- Michael Kattirtzi – Ofgem
- TBC – Climate Change Committee
UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)
The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) is an independent research centre, with researchers based in 20 different institutions throughout the UK including University College London, Imperial College London, Lancaster University, and the University of East Anglia. UKERC carries out world-class, interdisciplinary research into sustainable future energy systems. Our whole systems research programme addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by the transition to a net zero energy system and economy. UKERC is funded by the UK Research and Innovation, Energy Programme.
Climate Change Committee (CCC)
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Our purpose is to advise the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets and to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Energy Systems Catapult (ESC)
Energy Systems Catapult was set up to accelerate the transformation of the UK’s energy system and ensure UK businesses and consumers capture the opportunities of clean growth. We are an independent, not-for-profit centre of excellence that bridges the gap between industry, government, academia and research. We take a whole system view of the energy sector, helping us to identify and address innovation priorities and market barriers to decarbonise the energy system at least cost.
Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST)
The CAST Centre is a global hub for understanding the systemic and society-wide transformations that are required to address climate change. We research and develop the social transformations needed to produce a low-carbon and sustainable society. At the core of our work is the question: How can we as a society live differently – and better – in ways that meet the urgent need for rapid and far-reaching emission reductions?
Photo credit: Climate Assembly UK – Fabio de Paola, PA Wire