ClimateXChange: The journey so far – Parting reflections from Ragne Low

Programme Manager 2013-2018 Ragne Low

As many of you know, after six and a half years in ClimateXChange I am leaving for pastures new. This ‘moment of change’ seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the evolution of ClimateXChange since it was established in the summer of 2011, and the journey we have travelled together.

Way back in September 2011, my first piece of work in CXC was for the Scottish Government housing analyst team. The rather grandly named ‘Housing Futures’ project provided some initial data and analysis to support development of the second Report on Proposals and Policies for climate change action. It was a great introduction to working across science and policy.

At that time, members of CXC and our policy colleagues alike would talk about our ‘call-down service’, sometimes flippantly described as ‘the Bat Phone’. The idea was that policy officials would send us research questions (which they themselves had defined) out of-the blue and CXC would mobilise our research network to provide a fast response. And there was a whole set of bureaucratic procedures established for submitting and processing a request. Outside of CXC’s three core research workstreams, this call-down facility was assumed to be the principal mode of working for CXC. In practice, there were very few such requests – even in the early days it was clear that CXC’s real value is in relationship-building between policy and research communities, co-development of research questions and co-production of insights and new knowledge.

Six years later, CXC is a smaller, more effective centre with a balance between expertise across the Scottish Research Institutes and Universities, able to cover the whole waterfront of climate change and energy policy issues of relevance to the Scottish Government. We no longer work in unwieldy research workstreams, but through a series of linked projects. Through these, we have provided expert advice on issues ranging from on-farm slurry management techniques, to the power flow effects of balancing local electricity supply and demand. From understanding the likely impacts of climate change on migratory birds, to evaluating the effectiveness of policy designs for energy efficiency. We have built a strong network of close connections between CXC researchers and Scottish Government officials. And work with stakeholders from across UK Research Council- and EU-funded research programmes, Scottish and UK government departments, public agencies, industry and the third sector. CXC experts sit on government advisory groups, organise international conferences and provide evidence to the Scottish and UK Parliaments. Our influence extends beyond anything I could have imagined back in 2011.

CXC is usually described as a distributed centre of expertise. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a community of people committed to providing the best evidence into the policy making process. It’s a place where new ideas are shared and learning is embedded in practice. It’s a model of working at the policy-research boundary, the expression of a positive commitment to doing science-into-policy better.

So, it’s been a fantastic journey, but one that for me has come to its end. I take up a new position at the Centre for Energy Policy, University of Strathclyde on 29 January. At the risk of pushing the journey metaphor way too far: thanks for being a travelling companion, and may our paths cross again soon!

The CXC Directorate and Secretariat would like to say a big Thank You to Ragne for all her work, and wish her all the best in her role at University of Strathclyde.

 

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