Belfast Climate Commission is part of the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN). The PCAN network is about translating climate policy into action ‘on the ground’ to bring about transformative change. It is supported by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and brings together the research community and decision-makers in the public, private and third sectors through city-based climate commissions (in Leeds, Belfast and Edinburgh, although a wider network is now being created) and theme-based platforms on finance and business.
The five-year project is led by an experienced team of researchers with strong track records of engaging with public, private and third-sector decision-makers. PCAN builds on the policy connections, networking capacity and research strengths of its host institutions: the Centre for Sustainability and Environmental Governance at Queen’s University Belfast; the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation; the University of Leeds, and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The key to implementing climate action lies increasingly at the local level, with the participation of local actors, businesses and citizens. This is recognised and championed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UK Committee on Climate Change. The aim of PCAN is to strengthen links between national and international climate policies and their local delivery. Clear policy signals by the UK Government remain essential, but the important decisions are made beyond Westminster, creating opportunities for climate action within localities: decisions about low-carbon business opportunities, renewable energy investment, urban transport, energy management, buildings efficiency and the management of climate risks.
PCAN is about engagement, impact, and the co-creation and sharing of knowledge. The Network has the following components:
1. Place-based climate commissions: PCAN has developed three city-level climate commissions, in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds. The concept, piloted in Leeds, is an innovative structure for sustained two-way, multi-level engagement between national and local policies and practices. Other places have now started to join the network and PCAN will continue to work on the replication of climate commissions in other cities and local contexts to further broaden the Network's reach.
2. Thematic platforms: There are two theme-based platforms, on business and finance. These virtual networks focus on two stakeholder groups that are particularly important for place-based climate action. They are co-created with representatives from the business and finance communities.
3. The PCAN Fund: We are opening the Network to the wider community of climate change researchers and research users by commissioning 20 to 30 small grants totalling £400,000 over five years. The grants are awarded competitively, with a focus on engagement activities, user-oriented analysis, innovative approaches and support for early-career researchers.
4. Communication and user-oriented research synthesis: An active outreach strategy connects place-based activities and informs wider climate action by co-producing, synthesising and communicating decision-relevant analysis. This programme of user-oriented outreach will leverage the work of PCAN’s host institutions and other ESRC investments.
PCAN will be successful if it can inform the climate change decisions of stakeholders across the five platforms. PCAN will focus on activities that support key UK policy objectives and their local implementation, such as: the city strategies of Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds; the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25-year Environment Plan; the statutory carbon budgets; the third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment; the recommendations of the UK Green Finance Task Force, and the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), as well as the climate strategies of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
PCAN will respond flexibly to evolving demands. This will ensure that the platforms we create become self-sustaining and can be replicated elsewhere.