The Committee on Climate Change, set up in 2008 to identify climate change targets and advise the UK government, was formed due to recommendations underpinned by ESRC-funded research.


  • ESRC-funded research contributed to the establishment of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
  • The CCC introduced legally binding targets to reduce UK carbon emissions. Its first recommendation, that UK carbon emissions should be cut by 80 per cent by 2050, was enshrined into legislation in 2008.
  • As a consequence of the CCC, the government increased the funds available for developing renewable and low-carbon energy, as well as green technologies such as electric vehicles.

About the research

In 2005 Professor Nick Pidgeon led an ESRC-funded research project exploring public perceptions of climate change and optimal engagement with the public about climate change risks, including a national survey of the British public’s perceptions of climate change. When presenting his findings to a meeting in Parliament, Professor Pidgeon was asked to chair an inquiry into whether the different Westminster political parties could indeed work together to tackle climate change.

The inquiry found that the short-term nature of the political cycle meant that governments were afraid of implementing solutions that may be effective in the long term, but costly and unpopular in the short term. However, the survey had revealed that large numbers of people were concerned about climate change and wanted action from their government.

Professor Pidgeon recommended that a separate body be established to deal with climate targets. The CCC was subsequently set up in 2008 as an independent body of experts identifying UK climate change targets and reporting on progress towards meeting them. The committee also work to advise government on energy and economic policy.