Author Archives: Rebecca Willis

After Extinction Rebellion, where next for climate politics?

Extinction Rebellion_Julia Hawkins via Flickr Creative Commons_smlWhat a week for the climate. With impeccable timing, just as a temporary Brexit ceasefire took hold, activists from Extinction Rebellion occupied the streets of London. There followed an incredible week-long display of peaceful determination and optimism, in the face of a mounting climate crisis. Throw in an Attenborough documentary and an unseasonably hot Easter weekend, and the climate message is crystal clear. Read more

Out of the mouths of babes: Greta Thunberg and being ‘naïve’ on climate

gretathunberg_viaflickr_prachataiThis post is by Green Alliance associate Dr Rebecca Willis. It first appeared on her blog.

I can’t stop thinking about sixteen year old Greta Thunberg, speaking with quiet determination to rooms full of powerful people in Davos.

I think that Thunberg has an incredible gift. She summarises, with simplicity and eloquence, what climate scientists have been telling us for a long time: that climate change threatens our future on this planet; and that drastic cuts to emissions are needed, starting now. Read more

There’s no political pressure to act on climate. So how are MPs responding?

Tewkesbury flood flickr cc_ Cheltenham Borough CouncilScientists are clear that urgent action is needed on climate. At the Paris Summit in 2015, world leaders agreed to limit rises in global temperatures. And yet climate change barely troubles domestic politics. Since then, I’ve interviewed over 20 members of the UK parliament, and one message has emerged with striking clarity: the electorate are not asking their representatives to act. Read more

What does climate change look like through the eyes of a politician?

hop 2I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue.  But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.

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Are politicians ‘taming’ climate change with the language they use?

wordcloud-2This post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis, it is based on research presented in a paper published by the journal Environmental Politics.

While climate deniers on both sides of the Atlantic attract media and public attention, the overwhelming majority of politicians in the UK support the scientific consensus on climate change. Just five out of 650 MPs voted against the Climate Change Act in 2008, and major parties in Westminster have all pledged their support for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, signed in December 2015. Read more

A green ‘people’s home’? Reflections on climate politics in Sweden

28937424213_1e0d89d2f8_zThis post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis. It was first posted on her blog.

When the going gets tough in UK politics, it’s tempting to look to Scandinavia for inspiration. Those ex-Vikings seem to have mellowed into a peaceful, consensual bunch, quietly doing the right thing on social policy and environmental protection. Or so we believe. But what’s the truth behind the stereotype? I recently spent a month in Sweden, and while I’m still no expert, I had a lot of interesting conversations about Swedish politics – so here are my reflections.

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Is community energy our alternative energy future?


CommunitysolarPlymouthGreen Alliance associate Rebecca Willis reports on the project,
Cultures of Community Energy, which she worked on for the British Academy.

The green fields of Wiltshire have recently become the site of an impressive energy innovation. On the last day of 2015, the Braydon Manor Solar Array was connected to the grid, plugging in 9MW of solar energy, or enough to supply around 2,500 houses.

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The demise of DECC: some thoughts on moving the furniture

s300_3wp_nameplate3This post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis. It was first posted on her blog.

Goodbye, DECC. I’ve known you for eight years. In that time, you created a world-leading system of national carbon budgeting, and oversaw an impressive growth of renewable energy. It wasn’t always easy – you were a minnow in the Whitehall ocean, and the site of many a pitched battle during the Coalition years. But you fought hard to demonstrate the benefits of a low carbon transition for the UK. Read more

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