Author Archives: Rebecca Willis

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

Europe, the environment and democracy: the perils of policy by stealth

European Union and British Union Jack flag flying in front of BiThis post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis, it first appeared on her blog.

I’ve never written such a grand title for a blog before. Perhaps I should just have called it ‘the inevitable Brexit blog’. But portentous times call for portentous titles; if there was ever a moment to rethink the big questions, surely this is it. Read more

Was Paris a success? ‘Yes’, ‘no’ and ‘it depends’

paris cop21This post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis, author of our 2014 report Paris 2015: Getting a global agreement on climate change. It is also published on her website.

Six years after the failure of the climate negotiations at Copenhagen, agreement has at last been reached in Paris. Can we call this success? Weighing up the outcome, the answer is emphatically “yes”, but in some senses “no”, and in large part “it depends”, on how the agreement is received, and what happens next. Read more

From Cumbria to Paris: when climate change gets personal

flood cumbriaThis post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis and also appears on her website.

I write this in the aftermath of Storm Desmond, which battered my home town of Kendal this weekend. I am lucky to live up a hill and, over the weekend, our house filled with flood refugees. We hunkered down to watch films as the wind howled outside. Today, a sizeable portion of my town is still under water. Schools are closed, which my kids obviously think is brilliant. But across the county of Cumbria, the devastation is truly terrible. It is only this morning, as the waters subside, that the extent of the damage to homes, livelihoods, transport and infrastructure is becoming clear. Read more

What motivates politicians to act on climate change?

Climate ChangeThis post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis who is working with us on a new research project, in collaboration with Lancaster University.

How often have you heard the lament amongst environmentalists, “what’s lacking is political will”? If only politicians understood enough, and cared enough, to confront and act on environmental issues like climate change, the argument goes, they could implement the solutions (green the economy, fine the polluters) and lead the transition to a sustainable society. Read more

Innovators need a voice in government too

bubblesThis post is by independent researcher and Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis.

It’s obvious, when you think about it, that emerging industries and innovators have less of a voice in government than established players. Incumbents have a lot of advantages: they have a proven technology or system which regulators understand; they can afford to pay staff or consultants to engage and lobby; and policies and regulations are designed with them in mind. In contrast, innovators put all their effort into getting their new approach off the ground (with little time left for lobbying); regulations aren’t designed for them; and policy makers may not understand what they do. Read more

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