Charlie Wilson

University of East Anglia
Partner institution - CAST



Charlie is a researcher in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, for which he helps coordinate the Accelerating Social Transitions research theme.  Charlie's research focuses on ways to reduce emissions to net-zero, with a particular interest in the relationship between people and technology.  Charlie is also a faculty member in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and a visiting research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria. 


Research Interests

Charlie's research interests lie at the intersection between innovation, behaviour and policy in the field of energy and climate change mitigation. He works at both a systems level and at a micro level.

At a systems level, Charlie works on long-term energy transitions both historically and into the future. He works in general meta-analytic terms across diverse samples of technologies, contexts, and change dynamics. He is particularly interested in using empirical evidence from historical patterns of change to inform and strengthen scenario narratives and modelling projections of future change towards net-zero targets. Charlie’s current projects in this field include an EU-H2020 project called ‘NAVIGATE’ on integrated assessment modelling for climate policy and the role of low-carbon lifestyles, and a UK-ESRC project called ‘CAST’ on social and governance transformations for climate change including the contribution of lifestyle change.

At a micro level, Charlie works on technology adoption and diffusion, low-carbon behaviours and lifestyles, and the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions. Charlie’s current projects include a UK-EPSRC project called ‘EnergyREV’ on the role of smart, local energy systems and spatial variation in UK uptake, and an EU-ERC Starting Grant called 'SILCI' on how social influence mechanisms help spread low-carbon consumer innovations. Charlie's research is either directly policy-relevant, or has clear implications for policy. He has collaborated with, advised, or provided input to national and global policy assessments including Mission Innovation, UNEP’s Emission Gap reports, the Exponential Carbon Roadmap, the International Energy Agency, and the UK Committee on Climate Change.

Charlie has written numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as two books, one with  Arnulf Grubler on energy technology innovation systems (published by CUP) and one with Tom Hargreaves on smart home users (published by Springer). Charlie has also contributed to IPCC assessment reports and the Global Energy Assessment.


Charlie joined the Tyndall Centre and UEA in September 2010 from the London School of Economics where he taught courses on technological change and business sustainability. Charlie has a PhD from the University of British Columbia in Canada on the social and behavioural determinants of energy use. Prior to his PhD, Charlie worked for a number of years in the private sector in both renewable energy finance and climate change policy.


Selected Publications

Gambhir, A., R. Green, M. Grubb, P. Heptonstall, C. Wilson and R. Gross (2021). How Are Future Energy Technology Costs Estimated? Can We Do Better? International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics 15. [doi: 10.1561/101.00000128]

Arvanitopoulos, T. & Wilson, C. (2021) Local conditions associated with local energy system projects. EnergyREV, University of Strathclyde Publishing: Glasgow, UK. ISBN: 978-1-909522-87-9

M.Sharmina., Edelenbosch, OY., Wilson, C., Freeman, R., Gernaat, DEHJ.,  Gilbert, P., Larkin, A., Littleton, E.W., Traut, M., Van Vuuren, DP.,  Vaughan, N., Wood, FR., Le Quéré (2020), Decarbonising the critical sectors of aviation, shipping, road freight and industry to limit warming to 1.5–2°C, Climate Policy.

Wilson, C., Kerr, L., Sprei, F., Vrain, E., & Wilson, M., 2020. Potential Climate Benefits of Digital Consumer Innovations. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 45, p.113-144  

Wilson, C., A. Grubler, N. Bento, S. Healey, S. De Stercke and C. Zimm (2020). "Granular technologies to accelerate decarbonization." Science 368(6486): 36-39.

Wilson, C., H. Pettifor, E. Cassar, L. Kerr and M. Wilson (2019). "The potential contribution of disruptive low-carbon innovations to 1.5 °C climate mitigation." Energy Efficiency 12(2): 423-440.

Grubler, A., C. Wilson, N. Bento, B. Boza-Kiss, V. Krey, D. McCollum, N. D. Rao, K. Riahi, J. Rogelj, S. D. Stercke, J. Cullen, S. Frank, O. Fricko, F. Guo, P. Havlík, M. Gidden, D. Huppmann, G. Kiesewetter, P. Rafaj, W. Schoepp and H. Valin (2018). "A Low Energy Demand Scenario for Meeting the 1.5oC Target and Sustainable Development Goals without Negative Emission Technologies." Nature Energy 3: 515-527.

Wilson, C. and Y. J. Kim (2018). Technology-Specific Analysis of Energy Innovation Systems. The Global Innovation Index 2018. Ithaca, Fontainebleau, and Geneva, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO: 115-126.

Wilson, C., H. Pettifor and G. Chryssochoidis (2018). "Quantitative modelling of why and how homeowners decide to renovate energy efficiently." Applied Energy 212: 1333-1344.


Further publications:


Role at Council
Theme Co-ordinator, Accelerating Social Transitions.


Contact information


Phone: +44 (0)1603 591386

Postal Address:
Tyndall Centre (ENV), ZICER 1.18 University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.

University website

CAST website