Governance and Behaviour

Research in the governance 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 highly 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 Copenhagen summit powerfully revealed 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 explicates the policy, political and governance aspects of climate change at multiple levels, from global to local, and across sectors. Its work covers the design and performance of particular policy instruments (e.g. research on REDD and the Clean Development Mechanism), the (non) use of scientific evidence and assessment tools to inform policy development activities (e.g. LIAISE), the emergence and role of partnerships between the private and public sectors (e.g. the NMNE project), and the design of policy systems to cope with complex policy coordination challenges (e.g. SCOOPI). Work in this theme is being funded by a number of bodies including the European Commission, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Leverhulme Trust.

Theme Co-ordinatorsHeike Schroder, Sarah Mander, Nick Pidgeon, Lorraine Whitmarsh

See below for a list of the Theme's current projects: