Placing people at the heart of climate action Why social sciences matter

Published on 27 January 2023

Patrick Devine-Wright with other ACCESS network members argue that only with profound societal change and continued technical improvements will we reach our climate goals.

Achieving the urgent and necessary transformations laid out in the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will require placing people at the heart of climate action. Tackling climate change cannot be achieved solely through technological breakthroughs or new climate models. We must build on the strong social science knowledge base and develop a more visible, responsive and interdisciplinary-oriented social science that engages with people and is valued in its diversity by decision-makers from government, industry, civil society and law.

Further, we need to design interventions that are both effective at reducing emissions and achieve wider societal goals such as wellbeing, equity, and fairness. Given that all climate solutions will involve people in one way or another, the social sciences have a vital role to play.