UK Climate Change Chief joins new Centre for Public Policy as Honorary Professor

Published: 6 November 2023

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, has been appointed as an Honorary Professor of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Public Policy.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, has been appointed as an Honorary Professor of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Public Policy.

The new Centre has also named Sarah Davidson, CEO at Carnegie UK, as an Honorary Professor. They are the first Honorary Professors to join the Centre.

Professor Stark’s first engagement with the University will be at the Centre’s inaugural event on 14 November, which will question whether the UK is still on track to Net Zero, and the challenges that will face whichever party leads government after the next general election.

The Centre for Public Policy has been set up to enhance the contribution of the University to the public policy process. It will draw on research expertise from across the University community, helping to build capacity within the policy community to help policymakers deal with the myriad challenges they face.

Nicola McEwen, Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Centre for Public Policy, said: “Governments and parliamentarians are having to confront many difficult policy and societal challenges, from climate change to tackling inequality, and ensuring the economy keeps pace with demographic and technological change. Universities have a wealth of expertise that can support public policy. The establishment of the Centre for Public Policy reflects a commitment from the University of Glasgow to play our part in working with the policy community - locally, nationally and internationally - to access expertise, evidence, and to devise the right tools to find solutions to the challenges they face.

“As we build our team within the Centre, we are delighted to be joined by our first Honorary Professors. Both Chris and Sarah have made an inspiring contribution to public policy and practice, bringing extensive experience from the highest levels of policy and government.”

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “It’s fantastic to see our new Centre for Public Policy, led by Professor Nicola McEwen, brought to life. The Centre will bring together a host of experts, influencers and thinkers from across the political and policy landscape to consider how we can improve the policymaking processes in Scotland, across the UK and beyond.

“As universities, one of our core missions should be to provide a space for robust, informed and healthy debate. At Glasgow we want to continue to use our research, our community and our wider activity to engage with the public and support better long-term policymaking. With the creation of this new Centre, we will bring a broader perspective to national discussions on the key challenges facing society today, and I very much look forward to seeing all that the Centre has planned in the months and years ahead.”

Professor Sara Carter, Head of the College of Social Sciences, said: “The College has made a major investment in the new Centre for Public Policy and I am delighted that Professor Nicola McEwen has joined the University as its founding Director. Nicola will lead a team of nine newly appointed staff and our Honorary Professors, as we focus on supporting and improving the public policy process”.

As Chief Executive, Chris Stark has led the UK’s Climate Change Committee (UKCCC) in playing a critical and statutory role in monitoring and advising governments as they progress (or not) towards Net Zero and adapt to climate change.

He was previously Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Scottish Government. He is an alumnus of the University of Glasgow, having graduated in 2002 with a degree in Finance and Law.

Chris Stark said: "I’m honoured to join the new Centre for Public Policy to explore the challenges of addressing climate change and the implications of the net-zero transition. Glasgow hosted world leaders two years ago at the COP26 climate summit. In this talk, I'll reflect on progress since COP26 and on the emerging fractures in the politics of climate. As the planet warms, how will politics survive a clash with physics?"

Sarah Davidson is CEO at Carnegie UK, the Dunfermline-based charitable foundation which works to improve the wellbeing of people throughout the UK and Ireland by influencing public policy and practice.

Before taking up her appointment with Carnegie UK, Sarah served as a senior civil servant within the Scottish Government, including five years as Director General - one of the highest rankings within the Home civil service. She brings a breadth of expertise, having served across multiple portfolios.

Sarah will support the development and implementation of the UofG Policy Lab, a new way of working that the Centre will be pioneering and sharing learning from.

Sarah Davidson said: “Public policy at its best reflects collective endeavour. The complexity of challenges facing policy makers today makes it ever more important that there are places where practitioners, academics and others with expertise can come together and learn about the design and delivery of good policy. The new Centre for Public Policy offers just such a space for learning; as someone who has spent their career in the pursuit of public policy outcomes I am delighted and excited to be joining it in its early days. I look forward to working with the Director, faculty from across the University, and the students to explore and learn from each other about the art of the public policy process.”

First published: 6 November 2023