Irene Lorenzoni

University of East Anglia


Research Interests

Individual and institutional responses to energy issues and climate change; the role and methods of public participation in decision-making and engagement; sustainability; environmental policy and politics.

My research interests focus on understandings of, and engagement with, climate change and energy. Through an interdisciplinary approach, I am particularly interested in the relationship between individual perceptions and understandings of environmental issues - specifically climate change, its causes and consequences over different timescales- and behaviours. Critical to this work is an appreciation and understanding of the societal context in which individuals operate, hence my focus also on the communication of climate change and policy, and engagement. I have explored some of these issues recently in work on perceived barriers to engagement with climate change and their influence on individual and institutional responses (both in terms of mitigation and adaptation); carbon capability; public attitudes towards current energy use and future energy options, especially in relation to sustainability; the construction of climate and energy discourses in the UK. I have published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, recently co-editing “Adaptation to Climate Change” (with Neil Adger and Karen O’Brien, 2009, CUP) and “Engaging the public with climate change: communication and behaviour change” (with Lorraine Whitmarsh and Saffron O’Neill, 2010, Earthscan). I am also a contributing author of the IPCC's Third and Fourth Assessment Reports; member of editorial board of the Wiley Interdisciplinary Review (WIREs): Climate Change.


Title: Understanding Risk: Climate Change and Energy ChoicesExploring public, scientific and policy understandings of risk in relation to the evolving personal, spatial and political landscapes of changing climates and energy options. This project explores and seeks to understand the perceptions and understandings of risk in relation to energy (production and use) and climate change science by a variety of social actors including publics, scientists, and policy makers. Various strands of research have focussed on policy makers’ mental models of energy futures, understandings of scientific uncertainty in public discourse, personal adaptations to changing climates, individual and societal networks’ responses to energy management, climate change mitigation and adaptation.  All these strands undertaken at UEA are underpinned by theoretical insights stemming mainly from environmental psychology and STS.

 People involved: Irene Lorenzoni, Mike Hulme, Richard Baldwin and Catharina Landstrom plus others at Cardiff and Sheffield – see project website:

Funder: Leverhulme Trust.


CLAMER (Climate change and European marine ecosystem research)This project aimed to relate the existing body of scientific research on climate change impacts on marine environments to public understandings of such impacts, with a view to informing climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. This project, involving 17 marine research institutes and universities from 11 European countries including all European regional seas, reviewed the scientific evidence and undertook qualitative and quantitative social science research, including a pan-European poll, to understand how European citizens perceive and connect with the impacts of climate change on marine and coastal environments. Amongst the multiple findings and outputs of the project, a key message is that attempts to engage the public should be sensitive to how they understand and engage with marine climate change issues in their own terms; information needs to go beyond imparting one-way knowledge to create engagement. 

People involved at UEA: Irene Lorenzoni, Jason Chilvers, Geraldine Terry plus other partners at CEFAS and in Europe – see project website: 

Funder: European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme. April 2010 – September 2011

Siginicant publications

  • Benson, D., Lorenzoni, I. and Cook, H. (2015) ‘Evaluating social learning in UK flood risk management: an ‘individual-community interaction’ perspective’. Environmental Science & Policy. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2015.05.013
  • Capstick, S., Lorenzoni, I., Corner, A. & Whitmarsh, L. (2015) 'Prospects for radical emissions reduction through behaviour and lifestyle change.' Carbon Management, 5 (4): 429-445
  • Landström, C., Hauxwell-Baldwin, R., Lorenzoni, I. Rogers-Hayden, T. (2015) Experts' views on the (mis)understanding of scientific uncertainty by policy makers, media and the public. Science as Culture.
  • Chilvers, J., Lorenzoni, I., Terry, G., Buckley, P., Pinnegar, J.K. & Gelcich, S. (2014) 'Public engagement with marine climate change issues: (Re)framings, understandings and responses’, Global Environmental Change 29: 165-179. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.09.006
  • Lorenzoni, I. and Benson, D. (2014) Radical institutional change in environmental governance: explaining the origins of the UK Climate Change Act 2008 through discursive and policy streams perspectives. Global Environmental Change. 29: 10-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.07.011
  • Benson, D. and Lorenzoni, I. (2014) Examining the scope for national lesson drawing on climate governance. Political Quarterly, 85: 202–211. doi: 10.1111/1467-923X.12080
  • Whitmarsh, L., O'Neill, S. and Lorenzoni, I. (2013). Public engagement with climate change: What do we know and where do we go from here? International Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 9, 7-25.
  • Adger, N., Quinn, T., Lorenzoni, I., Murphy, C. and Sweeney, J. (2013) Changing social contracts in climate change adaptation. Nature Climate Change 3: 330-333. Doi:10.1038/nclimate1751
  • Turnpenny, J., Jones, M. and Lorenzoni, I. (2011) Where Now for Post-Normal Science? A Critical Review of its Development, Definitions, and Uses. ST&HV, 36(3) [May 2011] pp. 287-306.
  • Rogers-Hayden, T., Hatton, F., Lorenzoni, I. (2011) Energy Security' and 'Climate Change': Constructing UK Energy Discursive Realities, Global Environmental Change21(1): 134-142.
  • Wolf, J., Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I., Abrahamson, V. and Raine, R. (2010) Social capital, individual responses to heat waves and climate change adaptation: an empirical study of two UK cities, Global Environmental Change20: 44-52.
  • Lorenzoni, I. and Hulme, M. (2009) Believing is seeing: laypeople's views of future socio-economic and climate change in England and in Italy, Public Understanding of Science18: 383-400. doi: 10.1177/0963662508089540
  • Adger, W.N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Nelson, D., Naess, L-O., Wolf, J. and Wreford, A. (2009) Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climatic Change 93: 335–354;DOI 10.1007/s10584-008-9520-z
  • Bickerstaff, K., Lorenzoni, I., Pidgeon, N.F., Poortinga, W., Simmons, P. (2008) Reframing nuclear power in the UK energy debate: Nuclear power, climate change mitigation and radioactive waste. Public Understanding of Science 17: 145-168. DOI: 10.1177/0963662506066719

Further publications:


Contact information


Phone: +44 (0)1603 593173

Fax: +44 (0)1603 593739

Postal Address
Centre for Environmental Risk (CER) School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ UK