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Professor Rebecca Willis

Professor in Practice

Rebecca Willis

LEC Building



Research overview

I work on environment, climate and energy policy and politics. In particular, I look at the relationship between the citizen and state in climate governance.

Current Research

I currently hold a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, examining the role of public engagement in energy and climate governance.

In 2019-2020, I was an Expert Lead to Climate Assembly UK, the first national Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change, established by six parliamentary select committees in the House of Commons.

From 2014-18, in a collaboration with Green Alliance, I investigated how politicians understand and respond to climate change.

I am a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation and an adviser to the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund. From 2015-2019 I was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of UKRI’s Energy Programme, and from 2011-15 a Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council. Previously I was Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved administrations.

Career Details

Research Fellow, Lancaster University (2014-2018)

Professor in Practice, Lancaster University (2019-ongoing)


  • UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship: Citizen Engagement in Energy and Climate Governance, 2020-2025 (in partnership with the Climate Change Committee and the Energy Systems Catapult)
  • Research Fellow: Supporting local officers and politicians in three UK cities to implement rapid climate action, 2019-2020
  • ESRC-funded PhD: How Members of Parliament understand and respond to climate change. CASE Studentship, with Lancaster University and Green Alliance. Awarded October 2018.
  • Research Associate: NERC-funded project Assessing mitigation deterrence effects of greenhouse gas removal techniques (PI Dr Nils Markusson); responsibility for focus groups and engagement methodologies


  • Convenor of LEC interdisciplinary second-year undergraduate module Energy, Economy & Environment (LEC 282)
  • Lecturer and co-tutor, LEC interdisciplinary MSc module Climate Change and Society
  • Convenor of Research Training Programme module: Introduction to Engaging with Government and Politics
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Independent consultancy, 2004-2017

  • Climate Change Leadership Programme, Green Alliance: Founder and manager of this development programme for Members of Parliament. Backed by three main political parties in the UK; worked with over 100 MPs to date
  • Energy research:
  • Cultures of Community Energy: Research project for the British Academy (2015-16)
  • Research and advocacy for Co-operatives UK, including two research publications, profiling the sector and putting forward policy proposals
  • Research into public and community engagement in energy for private clients including Airvolution (renewable energy developer) and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (philanthropic funders)Vice-chair of the Government Shared Ownership Taskforce (2014-15)
  • Research projects for Green Alliance, including publication of Demanding Less (2011); Grid 2.0 (2007); Establishment of Energy Entrepreneurs Network (2002-4)
  • The Low-carbon Lake District initiative: Advising the Lake District National Park Authority on its strategic response to climate change, including establishment of the UK’s first consumption-based local carbon budget

 2004-2011: Vice-Chair, Sustainable Development Commission

The UK Government’s independent advisory body on sustainable development, reporting to the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of the devolved administrations

 2001 – 2004: Director, Green Alliance

1998 – 2001: Head of Policy, Green Alliance

1997 - 1998: Policy Adviser, European Parliament, Brussels 

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