Project team and partners

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Professor Rebecca Willis

Rebecca Willis is a Professor in Practice 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.

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Dr Jake Ainscough

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.

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. Jake also edits the newsletter for the European Society of Ecological Economics and is a Research Affiliate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.

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Rachel Coxcoon

Rachel will begin doctoral research at Lancaster University in October 2021. Rachel’s work will focus on understanding how socio-economic differences and political outlooks affect how people engage with the net-zero transition. From this, Rachel aims to develop nuanced engagement processes that reflect differences in underlying world views.

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.

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Pancho Lewis

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.

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Advisory board

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.

  • Dhara Vyas – Citizens Advice
  • Gwen Buck – Green Alliance
  • Jess Britton – University of Exeter
  • Ben Walker – 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
  • Emma Easton – Ofgem
  • Indra Thillainathan – Climate Change Committee

Project partners

We are working closely with partners from policy and academia. We are co-developing work streams with these partners to share knowledge and develop approaches to public engagement that meet the needs of policy makers.

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?

Funders

The Climate Citizens project is supported by a Future Leaders Fellowship grant from UK Research and Innovation.

Photo credit: Climate Assembly UK – Fabio de Paola, PA Wire