Climate Action Unit


UCL Climate Action Unit launches

8 July 2021

The Climate Action Unit online launch took place on 8th July, introduced by Professor David Price UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement)

climate action unit staff photo

Prof Chris Rapley CBE and Dr Kris De Meyer welcomed a broad range of guests to meet the Climate Action Unit team, to discover how they work and to hear first-hand from the experts and organisations with whom they work.

Four speakers shared their experience of collaborating with the Climate Action Unit, including:

  • Helen Hayes, Member of Parliament, on the Climate Action Programme for UK Parliament. This programme supports Members of Parliament and Peers to develop their role in responding to climate change.
  • Jyoti Banerjee, North Star Transition, on the Wales Transition Lab. This initiative is focused on inter-connected systems change in the nexus of food, health and nature in Wales.
  • Katherine Welch, UCL Public Policy, on the Net Zero Innovation Network: supporting councils to deliver climate action (in collaboration with the Local Government Association).
  • Dr Matt Ives, University of Oxford, on the UK-China Collaboration on Climate Risk: a multi-year project to make information about climate risk and the energy transition relevant to decision makers.

The Climate Action Unit is led by Dr Kris De Meyer, an Honorary Research Fellow at UCL Earth Sciences. Kris is a neuroscientist, science communicator and science-policy co-production expert, bringing insights from neuroscience and psychology to the domain of climate change.

At the launch, Kris described the challenge for the climate community:

The problem isn't that we don't know enough about the science of climate change. It's that too often we don't know how to navigate the people factor of climate change.

Describing how the team works, Kris explored a commonly held belief that simply putting professionals from different sectors together in a room will allow solutions to the climate crisis to be found. In reality, Kris and the team have found that a specific approach is needed which enables those people to work together in new ways.

For example, one of the Climate Action Unit's 'Seven Insights' from neuroscience is that language can be interpeted differently, leading to miscommunication between two parties.

Ask a scientist and an economist for a 'conservative' estimate of climate risks and you may find their interpretations of the word conservative are actually the opposite of one another.