Governance & behaviour


Research in the ‘Governance and Behaviour’ theme explores the underlying causes and potential policy solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges in the broader context of the transition to sustainability.

‘Governing’ refers to activities that seek to guide, steer, control or otherwise manage human societies. ‘Governance’ describes the patterns that emerge from these governing activities. As well as administrative organisations such as government ministries, formal policies and programmes, and specific instruments such as emissions trading, it also includes the more informal activities of non-state actors operating alongside, and sometimes wholly independent of, governments.

Climate change is a dynamic and politically high profile area of governance. Although the basic science of climate change has steadily become clearer and less contested amongst scientists, the debates about how to govern mitigation and adaptation have become more intense. The Paris summit affirmed that the main barriers to collective action are political and governance-related, not scientific or technological. The Tyndall Centre has an internationally recognised capacity to conduct work which explains the policy, political and governance aspects of climate change at multiple levels, from global to local, and across sectors.

The focus on ‘behaviour’ within the theme is concerned with the ways in which people’s choices, preferences, practices and lifestyles interact with climate change. Some of our research seeks to understand and influence the behaviours that contribute to carbon emissions, such as transport or consumption activities. We also look at how people perceive climate change as a personal, social and scientific issue.

Large-scale changes to how energy is produced, distributed and used will be needed in order to move towards low-carbon societies (see also the ‘Energy and Emissions’ theme). We are interested in how members of the public in the UK and elsewhere evaluate the many possible ways in which this might occur. Tyndall research includes projects that examine people’s perspectives on strategies to reduce the energy used in materials and products, as well as work with members of the public that appraises the different options available for attaining secure, affordable and low-carbon energy futures.  

Theme Co-ordinatorsSarah ManderStuart Capstick


Image Credit: Photograph by txmx 2 is licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0