Leading environmental psychologist, Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, has been recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours, announced today [1 January 2022] by The Cabinet Office.

Awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of work she has led on behaviour change and public engagement towards more sustainable futures, Professor Whitmarsh’s recognition follows the UK’s successful hosting of COP26 in November 2021.

For nearly three years, Professor Whitmarsh has led the Centre for Climate Change & Social Transformations (CAST). Last year in 2021, she joined the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) – the prominent, international, and independent body of experts, led by former Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, advising policymakers on the climate crisis and net zero transition.

Professor Whitmarsh’s research focuses on public perceptions and behaviour in relation to climate change, energy, and transport. She regularly advises governmental and other organisations on low-carbon behaviour change and climate change communication. She was one of the expert leads for Climate Assembly UK (the nationally organised citizens’ assembly on climate change and net zero) and is also a Lead Author for the IPCC’s Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report.

Her research projects have included studies into meat consumption and attitudes, energy efficiency behaviours, waste reduction and carrier bag reuse, perceptions of smart technologies and electric vehicles, low-carbon lifestyles, and responses to climate change.

Commenting on the award, Professor Whitmarsh MBE said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honour in recognition of our work on climate change, public engagement and behaviour change. Following on from the year in which the UK hosted COP26 and more countries made ambitious pledges to achieve net zero emissions, it is encouraging that the role of the social sciences in tackling rising temperatures is recognised and valued in this way.

“I would also like to thank many colleagues, past and present, from the Centre for Climate Change & Social Transformations and at the universities of Bath, Cardiff, East Anglia, York and the charity Climate Outreach who I have collaborated with over many years; in addition to the policymakers, charities, and businesses with whom CAST is currently working on research and action to tackle climate change.”

Following an undergraduate degree at the University of Kent, Professor Whitmarsh studied for a MSc and PhD at the University of Bath; her doctoral research considered public understanding of climate change in southern England. Her academic career began at the University of East Anglia, followed by Cardiff University where she was promoted to Professor in 2015. She joined the University of Bath in 2020. In April 2021, Professor Whitmarsh was listed among the world’s top climate scientists by the news agency Reuters.

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath, Professor Ian White, said: “This is a tremendous accolade for Professor Whitmarsh and important recognition of the significant contributions she has made in relation to the climate crisis, behaviour change and public engagement. My sincere congratulations to her on receiving an MBE in this year's New Year's Honours 2022.”

Professor Greg Maio, Head of the Department of Psychology, added: “I am thrilled that Professor Whitmarsh MBE has received this prestigious recognition. Not only is this strongly merited by her outstanding leadership of research using psychological theory and methods to find solutions to global environmental problems; it is welcome to see this award go to someone who blends extraordinary dedication, skill, resilience with a strong sense of citizenship, team commitment, and creative thinking.

“The Department of Psychology is proud to have Lorraine in our team as we aim to help lead innovation towards a more sustainable future.”

Read more about other University of Bath-based sportspeople awarded New Year Honours after winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer.