Dr Candice Howarth

Research Interests

Candice is interested in how co-production of knowledge and science communication can be used to better inform decision making in the context of sustainability challenges

Her research focuses on perceptions of climate change, science communication, the science-policy interface and nexus-related decision making and in particular her research explores the following questions: 

  1. How can sustainability communication positively affect pro-environmental behaviours? 
  2. How can responses to climate change and weather shocks be better informed? 
  3. How can we better engage the public and policy on climate change and sustainability challenges?
  4. How can processes of co-production better inform decision making? 

She has extensive expertise in designing and implementing innovative methods for collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data. Her PhD explored the role of climate messaging in overcoming perceived barriers to behaviour change and she has led research on a number of projects on science communication, co-production, practitioner evidence and the IPCC process, and nexus shocks.

 

She has worked in the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Cabinet Office and the European Commission. She is a member of the UCL Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science, chairs the Nexus Shocks Network, sits on the Royal Meteorological Sociaty Climate Science Communication Group, and is on the Committee of the BSA Climate Change Study Group. She is editor of the International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, and sits on the Editorial board of Environmental Communication

Research Collaborations

Current projects 

Fellowship: ‘Exploring decision-making and resilience to nexus shocks: exploring the findings from the Nexus Shocks project’, Funded by the ESRC Nexus Network The Fellowship explores in greater depth and build on the findings of the Nexus Shocks network activities funded under a Nexus Network networking grant. The research focuses on the extent to which nexus thinking could increase resilience to shocks to the nexus, and the role of social sciences and nexus thinking in informing these processes. This entails engaging with the members of the Nexus Shocks network, and others as appropriate, to conduct a review of experience, evidence and lessons learnt from historical, nexus and non-nexus shocks. 

The research will also enable an assessment of different traits that might define a nexus shock, its surrounding context and explore existing approaches for assessing shocks and expectations for responses and resilience. The Fellowship builds on a series of questions that emerged from the Nexus Shocks network workshops, including: 

  • How does resilience evolve in the context of a nexus shock?
  • How do policy/decision-makers deal with uncertainty and make firm decisions based on uncertain science in this context? 
  • How is the process of decision-making shaped and affected by different types of evidence drawn from particular disciplinary perspectives? 

Past projects 

  • Senior Research Fellow & Knowledge Integrator, The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus, ESRC (2016-2017) 
  • Principal Investigator, Positive Vision: Creating Narratives on the UK 5th Carbon Budget, WWF, (2016)
  • Principal Investigator, Shocks to the food-energy-water nexus: impacts and responses, ESRC Nexus Network networking grant programme (2015) 
  • Principal Investigator, Overcoming the climate language barrier: An innovation policy approach to improving the IPCC process, ESRC/CCCEP Climate Policy Innovation Fund (2014) 
  • Principal Investigator, International Climate Change Engagement and Communication with NGOs and Civil Society, Department of Energy and Climate Change (2013-2014) 
  • Work Package Leader, WE@EU: Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas, EU Commission Coordination and support action funding (2013-2016) 
  • Principal Investigator, Developing a promotional Green Deal Assessment Programme in Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Evaluation partner (2013) 
  • Principal Investigator, Evaluation of Green Deal trials, Department of Energy and Climate Change (2012)

Teaching

Science communication, science policy interface, nexus related decision making, research methods

Departmental Duties

School Impact Champion

Member, University Ethics Committee

Affiliations

Professional activities

  • Editor,International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
  • Editorial Board member, Environmental Communication
  • Visiting Fellow, Busniess School, anglia ruskin University, Cambridge
  • Visiting Fellow, Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster
  • Honorary Senior Research Associate, STeaPP, University College London
  • Co-convenor, British Sociological Association Climate Change Study Group
  • Member, Royal Meteorological Society Climate Science Communication group
  • Member, UCL Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science
  • Chair, Nexus Shocks Network

Contact Me

E-mail:
Phone: 01483 68 9371

Find me on campus
Room: 51 AP 02


My office hours

Please email me for an appointment

Publications

Journal articles

  • Howarth C. (2017) 'Informing decision making on climate change and low carbon futures: Framing narratives around the United Kingdom’s fifth carbon budget'. Elsevier Energy Research & Social Science, 31, pp. 295-302.

    Abstract

    Narratives can help increase experiential engagement with climate change and build support for transitions to a low carbon future. The UK’s 2050 climate targets provide indicatives frames through which emissions reductions could be translated to different contexts. The scenarios outlined in the UK’s fifth carbon budget will require lifestyle changes which may need to counter low levels of acceptance of the need to change through technological, political and behavioural initiatives. This paper explores the role of narratives of the UK’s fifth carbon budget in increasing engagement to climate change. Data are presented from thirty semi-structured interviews with UK academic, policy and practitioner communities. Six narratives are identified that could enable positive engagement with a low carbon future and better engagement on climate change: (i) showcasing investment opportunities; (ii) maintaining independence and freedom of choice; (iii) guiding audiences to visualise a low carbon future; (iv) demonstrating broader appeal, salience and impact of not doing anything; (v) supporting transitions and change; (vi) highlighting benefits to quality of life. Implications of these findings to public engagement on climate change and perceptions of how life may need to be reconfigured in a low carbon future are discussed.

  • Howarth CC, Monasterolo I. (2017) 'Opportunities for knowledge co-production across the energy-food-water nexus: Making interdisciplinary approaches work for better climate decision making'. Elsevier Environmental Science and Policy, 75, pp. 103-110.

    Abstract

    The relationship between the energy-food-water nexus and the climate is non-linear, multi-sectoral and time sensitive, incorporating aspects of complexity and risk in climate related decision-making. Current methods of analysis were not built to represent such a complex system and are insufficiently equipped to capture and understand positive and negative externalities generated by the interactions among different stakeholders involved in the energy-food-water nexus. Potential amplification effects, time delays and path dependency of climate policies are also inadequately represented. This paper seeks to explore how knowledge co-production can help identify opportunities for building more effective, sustainable, inclusive and legitimate decision making processes on climate change. This would enable more resilient responses to climate risks impacting the nexus while increasing transparency, communication and trust among key actors. We do so by proposing the operationalization of an interdisciplinary approach of analysis applying the novel methodology developed in Howarth and Monasterolo (2016). Through a bottom-up, participative approach, we present results of five themed workshops organized in the UK (focusing on: shocks and hazards, infrastructure, local economy, governance and governments, finance and insurance) featuring 78 stakeholders from academia, government and industry. We present participant’s perceptions of opportunities that can emerge from climate and weather shocks across the energy-food-water nexus. We explore opportunities offered by the development and deployment of a transdisciplinary approach of analysis within the nexus boundaries and we analyse their implications. Our analysis contributes to the current debate on how to shape global and local responses to climate change by reflecting on lessons learnt and best practice from cross-stakeholder and cross-sectorial engagement. In so doing, it helps inform a new generation of complex systems models to analyse climate change impact on the food-water-energy nexus

  • Howarth CC, Brooks K. (2017) 'Decision-Making and Building Resilience to Nexus Shocks Locally: Exploring Flooding and Heatwaves in the UK'. MDPI Sustainability, 9 (5)

    Abstract

    There has been a policy shift towards localism in the UK driving responses and decision-making processes to respond to the impacts of climate change. This shift capitalizes on local expertise and knowledge, empowering communities to take ownership of response strategies, with an increased focus on building resilience to nexus shocks. This comes at a time when the ability of local authorities to lead responses to nexus shocks is decreasing due to lack of capacity, funding and a statutory requirement to better respond to the impacts of climate change. We examine local resilience to nexus shocks and climate impacts as a complex process of collaboration, communication, adaptation, learning from past events and preparing for future shocks. Drawing on examples of resilience to extreme weather events in the UK, this review paper assesses: (i) local responses to nexus shocks in the UK, (ii) how and what evidence is used to inform decision-making in response to nexus shocks and (iii) how stakeholders increase local resilience to nexus shocks when faced with gaps in knowledge. We outline possible ways to extrapolate these insights beyond the UK context

  • Howarth CC, Viner D, Dessai S, Rapley C, Jones A. (2017) 'Enhancing the contribution and role of practitioner knowledge in the IPCC WGII process: insights from UK workshops'. Elsevier Climate Services, 5, pp. 3-10.

    Abstract

    This perspective critically assesses how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could facilitate a closer alignment of its activities and include lessons drawn from the policy and decisionmaking communities working on the ground at the regional/local levels. The objective is to facilitate practitioner input into the detailed choice of topics and priorities for IPCC review and in the conclusions drawn (we define practitioners as those engaged in the development and application of practical responses to climate change on the ground). By means of a series of workshops with academics, policy officials and decision-makers in the United Kingdom, the research reported here illuminates how the IPCC’s Working Group II (WGII) has been used in the past to inform decision-making and how practitioner responses to climate change could better inform the IPCC process in the future. In particular, we recommend three key actions. Firstly that IPCC WGII should incorporate more practitioners as authors to improve the awareness and understanding amongst the writing teams of the nature and detail of decisions being made in response to climate change; secondly a practitioner-led IPCC Special Report should be commissioned on good-practice responses to climate change; and thirdly a new body should be created, attached to the IPCC, to synthesise and report on good practice on climate response strategies in a timely manner. By adopting these recommendations, the IPCC could become more directly useful to decision-makers working on adaptation at the national, regional and local levels and enable more actionable decision-making.

  • Howarth CC, Sharman A. (2017) 'Influence of labeling and incivility on climate change communication'. Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Communication, 1

    Abstract

    Labels play an important role in opinion formation, helping to actively construct perceptions and reality, and place individuals into context with others. As a highly complex issue, climate change invites a range of different opinions and dialogues about its causes, impacts and action required. Much work has been published in the academic literature aiming to categorise differences of opinion about climate change using labels. However, the debate about labels acts as a distraction to more fundamental and pressing issues of policy response (Howarth and Sharman, 2015). In addition, the undercurrent of incivility present in the climate change debate also contributes towards a hostile and unconstructive conflict. This is an evolving area of academic enquiry. Recent work has examined how the different labels of climate change opinions are constructed, used in practice and portrayed differently in the public and policy spheres. The growing number of categorisation systems used in the climate debate is also argued to have implications for the science-policy interface, creating a polarised debate involving many different actors and interfaces. Moving away from unhelpful use and construction of labels which lead to incivility would enable constructive and fruitful dialogue across this polarised debate. A way forward would be to explore further the role of underlying motivations and rationales as to why these different opinions about climate change come to exist in the first place. Focusing on potential overlaps in perceptions and rationales may encourage constructive discussion amongst actors previously engaged in purposefully antagonistic exchange on climate change.

  • Jacobs R, Howarth CC, Coulton P. (2017) 'Artist-Scientist Collaborations: Maximising Impact of Climate Research and Increasing Public Engagement'. Common Ground Research Networks International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 9 (3), pp. 1-9.

    Abstract

    Scientists are under increasing pressure to communicate their findings effectively to decision-makers and undertake public engagement activities. Research councils require researchers to demonstrate the Pathways to Impact of their funding and within the Research Excellence Framework to demonstrate an “effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia” (Stern 2014, 43). However, scientists are often ill-equipped or may be restricted by resource and capacity to effectively engage in activities that can ensure the broad dissemination and uptake of their findings. Similarly, adoption of the “information deficit approach” where more information is assumed to lead to better understanding, means the evidence-base on climate change can be abundant yet inaccessible and misaligned with the needs of different audiences. Cross-research collaboration and partnerships with artists could enable knowledge exchange and sharing of experiences to facilitate this. Processes through which scientists engage with the arts provide a unique opportunity to engage with different audiences in meaningful ways to enable scientific evidence on climate change to become salient and relevant, providing more potential to inform decision-making and practices. This commentary explores the science-arts relationship through an analysis of three case studies. “The Prediction Machine,” “A Conversation between Trees,” and “Cold Sun.” We discuss insights that can be gained from these art-science collaborations on climate change. In particular, we explore how these collaborations can support scientists to further enhance salience to climate change and co-produce resilient solutions at different scales, to maximise dissemination of research

  • Howarth CC, Painter J. (2016) 'Exploring the science-policy interface on climate change: the role of the IPCC in informing local decision-making in the UK'. Palgrave Communications, 2

    Abstract

    Building on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) review of how to make its Assessment Reports (ARs) more accessible in the future, the research reported here assesses the extent to which the ARs are a useful tool through which scientific advice informs local decisionmaking on climate change in the UK. Results from interviews with local policy representatives and three workshops with UK academics, practitioners and local decision-makers are presented. Drawing on these data, we outline three key recommendations made by participants on how the IPCC ARs can be better utilized as a form of scientific advice to inform local decision-making on climate change. Firstly to provide more succinct summaries of the reports paying close attention to the language, content, clarity, context and length of these summaries; secondly to better target and frame the reports from a local perspective to maximize engagement with local stakeholders; and thirdly to work with local decision-makers to better understand how scientific advice on climate change is being incorporated in local decision-making. By adopting these, the IPCC would facilitate local decision-making on climate change and provide a systematic review of how its reports are being used locally. We discuss implications of these recommendations and their relevance to the wider debate within and outside the IPCC as to the most effective way the IPCC can more effectively tailor its products to user needs without endangering the robustness of its scientific findings.

  • Howarth CC, Monasterolo I. (2016) 'Understanding barriers to decision making in the UK energy-food-water nexus: The added value of interdisciplinary approaches'. Environmental Science and Policy, 61, pp. 53-60.

    Abstract

    The nexus represents a multi-dimensional means of scientific enquiry which seeks to describe the complex and non-linear interactions between water, energy, food, with the climate, and further understand wider implications for society. These resources are fundamental for human life but are negatively affected by shocks such as climate change and characterize some of the main challenges for global sustainable development. Given the multidimensional and complex nature of the nexus, a transdisciplinary approach to knowledge development through co-production is needed to timely and effectively inform the decision making processes to build societal resilience to these shocks going beyond the sectorality of current research practice. The paper presents findings from five themed workshops (shocks and hazards, infrastructure, local economy, governance and governments, finance and insurance) with 80 stakeholders from academia, government and industry in the UK to explore the impact of climate and weather shocks across the energy-food-water nexus and barriers to related responses. The research identified key stakeholders’ concerns, opportunities and barriers to better inform decision making centred on four themes: communication and collaboration, decision making processes, social and cultural dimensions, and the nature of responses to nexus shocks. We discuss implications of these barriers and how addressing these can better facilitate constructive dialogue and more efficient decision-making in response to nexus shocks.

  • Sharman A, Howarth CC. (2016) 'Climate stories: Why do climate scientists and sceptical voices participate in the climate debate?'. Public Understanding of Science,

    Abstract

    Public perceptions of the climate debate predominantly frame the key actors as climate scientists versus sceptical voices; however, it is unclear why climate scientists and sceptical voices choose to participate in this antagonistic and polarised public battle. A narrative interview approach is used to better understand the underlying rationales behind 22 climate scientists’ and sceptical voices’ engagement in the climate debate, potential commonalities, as well as each actor’s ability to be critically self-reflexive. Several overlapping rationales are identified including a sense of duty to publicly engage, agreement that complete certainty about the complex assemblage of climate change is unattainable and that political factors are central to the climate debate. We argue that a focus on potential overlaps in perceptions and rationales as well as the ability to be critically self-reflexive may encourage constructive discussion among actors previously engaged in purposefully antagonistic exchange on climate change.

  • Sharman A, Howarth CC. (2016) 'Why do climate scientists and sceptical voices participate in the climate debate?'. SAGE Publications Public Understanding of Science, , pp. 1-17.

    Abstract

    Public perceptions of the climate debate predominantly frame the key actors as climate scientists (CSs) versus sceptical voices (SVs); however it is unclear why CSs and SVs choose to participate in this antagonistic and polarised public battle. A narrative interview approach is used to better understand the underlying rationales behind 22 CSs’ and SVs’ engagement in the climate debate, potential commonalities, as well as each actor's ability to be critically self-reflexive. Several overlapping rationales are identified including a sense of duty to publicly engage, agreement that complete certainty about the complex assemblage of climate change is unattainable, and that political factors are central to the climate debate. We argue that a focus on potential overlaps in perceptions and rationales as well as the ability to be critically self-reflexive may encourage constructive discussion amongst actors previously engaged in purposefully antagonistic exchange on climate change.

  • Howarth CC, Black R. (2015) 'Local science and media engagement on climate change'. Nature Publishing Group Nature Climate Change, 5 (5), pp. 506-508.

    Abstract

    Climate scientists can do a better job of communicating their work to local communities and reignite interest in the issue. Local media outlets provide a unique opportunity to build a platform for scientists to tell their stories and engage in a dialogue with people currently outside the 'climate bubble'.

  • Howarth CC, Sharman A. (2015) 'Labeling opinions in the climate debate: a critical review'. Wiley Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6 (2), pp. 239-254.

    Abstract

    Labels play an important role in opinion formation, helping to actively construct perceptions and reality, and place individuals into context with others. As a highly complex issue, climate change invites a range of different opinions and dialogs about its causes, impacts, and action required. However, the polarized labels used in the climate change debate, such as skeptic or alarmist, are both reflecting and helping to frame the debate as antagonistic and combative. This paper critically reviews the literature on climate opinion labels, and the efforts taken within an academic context to categorize differences, create new taxonomies of more detailed sub-labels, or create or argue for the use of new labels such as denier or contrarian. By drawing on research on typologies of climate opinions, problems with labeling constructs and discussions around context and the implications for science-policy dialog, we argue that climate labels, both as constructed in the academic literature, and as applied in science and policy debates, are serving to isolate, exclude, ignore, and dismiss claims-makers of all types from constructive dialog. It suggests that context has been inadequately considered by the literature and that an emphasis on labels is accentuating division and diverting attention away from a focus on underlying motivations, which may be more conducive toward increasing public understanding and encouraging communication across this polarized debate

  • Viner D, Howarth CC. (2014) 'Practitioners’ work and evidence in IPCC reports'. Nature Publishing Group Nature Climate Change, (4), pp. 848-849.
  • Howarth CC. (2013) 'A Climate Change Information Framework for Behaviour Change'. The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 5 (1), pp. 55-75.

    Abstract

    The urgency of climate change is communicated profusely across governments, decision makers, scientific and research communities. In countries such as the UK, where the future impacts of climate change are hard to perceive, action does not reflect this urgency. Consequently there is a need for a tailored approach in terms of climate change communication, from information content and dissemination, audience targeting and considerations affecting its reception to maximise its impact on action. This paper addresses how climate change information can influence action by investigating opportunities for changes in travel behaviour. It presents results from a questionnaire survey of 903 householders and five focus group discussions conducted in Hampshire, South East UK, on the use of climate change messaging for behaviour change. It identifies three distinct awareness groups based on levels of understanding of the causes of climate change (‘Human activities’, ‘Unsure’ and ‘Non-human’) and demonstrates that individuals aged less than 25 years old and over 55 show a stronger likelihood of being unsure of the causes of climate change or thinking this is not related to human activities. In addition to identifying audiences to target, barriers to change are identified: low willingness to engage in sustainable travel behaviour was found to result from a perception that climate change is too forbidding to be tackled on a personal level. However environmental information was found to be a positive reinforcer of future behaviour rather than a direct driver of change. The paper concludes by presenting a framework on how to best deliver climate change information to influence lifestyle changes by clearly designing the information around behaviour, audience, messenger, content and delivery tools. It suggests that climate change information can be used directly to address perceived barriers to behaviour change and increase intention to change behaviours. Moving away from current models of linear and one-dimensional dissemination of climate information, the framework can be used for multiple audiences and behaviours allowing for comparison, monitoring, evaluation and transferability of results.

  • Howarth CC, Polyviou P. (2012) 'Sustainable travel behaviour and the widespread impacts on the local economy.'. SAGE Publications Local Economy, 27 (7), pp. 764-781.

    Abstract

    Statistics show that unsustainable travel behaviour and global greenhouse gas emissions are growing and due to the perceived indispensable nature of personal travel, shifts to more sustainable modes remain a challenge. Automobility supports sustained local economic growth but also raises issues around safety, health, road fatalities, traffic and congestion and detrimental environmental impacts. This paper addresses the issue of sustainable mobility by investigating how to increase sustainable travel choices and, where this is not possible, ensure existing travel choices and patterns are as environmentally-friendly as possible. Existing soft initiatives aimed at increasing sustainable travel behaviour fail to fully acknowledge that travel decisions are made at the individual level and that tailored strategies would be more effective at targeting distinct behavioural patterns. Influencing changes in travel behaviour at the local level demonstrates significant potential where individual behaviour can be influenced if appropriate support at the system level is in place and complies with the needs of individuals. This paper demonstrates that, in doing so, this will simultaneously address other areas, such as accessibility, employability, health and sustainable growth, crucial to the establishment and survival of automobility by both supporting local economic growth and achieving reductions in Carbon emissions.

Book chapters

  • Howarth CC, Ryley T. (2012) 'A Behavioural Perspective on the Relationship Between Transport and Climate Change'. in Chapman L (ed.) Transport and Climate Change Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2, pp. 281-286.

    Abstract

    Purpose

    To provide a behavioural perspective on the relationship between transport and climate change.

    Methodology/approach

    The factors influencing travel behaviour and the elements critical to behaviour formation are reviewed. The importance of behaviour change measures to reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and the application of behaviour change measures to increase the sustainability of transport, are examined.

    Findings

    There have been a range of travel behaviour measures implemented, such as individualised marketing programmes and travel plans, which have demonstrated some behavioural change impacts, in turn affecting climate change emissions, although they tend to be localised and small-scale.

    Social implications

    There is a real challenge to encourage individuals within society to exhibit more sustainable travel behaviour.

    Originality/value

    A range of behavioural issues still need to be resolved in terms of the relationship between transport and climate change, including a need to influence attitudes, to bridge the gaps between attitudes and both behaviour and intention, to make an impact at points of transition for individuals, to use cognitive dissonance as a way of harnessing social norms, and to understand more fully social pressure and group influence.

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