Our research agenda
The DCU Centre for Climate and Society is interested in partnering with other bodies, groups, and institutions working in the climate, biodiversity, and sustainability areas.
We bring core expertise on climate policy, communications, and media to our research.
The Centre’s members have established relationships with a range of public and private bodies, and have been asked to consult on a wide range of policy and communications issues. The members’ work has been extensively cited in academic research and policy materials. Thus, the international climate governance, policy, research and climate communications community forms an important part of the Centre’s stakeholder base.
In Ireland, the Centre has established working relationships with a range of government departments and agencies, public bodies, ENGOs, and corporate and business entities. These include the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Dublin City Council, the network of Climate Action Regional Offices, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the National Economic and Social Council, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, and Community Law and Mediation.
Internationally, the Centre has established networks with other research centres and institutes, both through the COST network framework, and through research collaborations.
Research Projects & Publications
Dr Aideen O’Dochartaigh from the DCU Business School is working on a project in collaboration with Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) to gain a better understanding of the role of the business sector in Ireland’s new national carbon budgeting framework. The connection between business and national carbon accounting and budgeting is under researched, with challenges including recording emissions, measuring performance, and knowledge and capacity gaps in practice. The research study will help to identify related challenges and opportunities for Irish business, including SMEs, multi-nationals, and social enterprises. The project is funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) New Foundations programme.
Dr Orlagh Reynolds from the DCU Business School, with partners in Ulster University and the AgriFood and Biosciences Institute NI (AFBI), received funding under the IRC New Foundations scheme 2022 to conduct research on the topic of circular bioeconomy entrepreneurship. The project aims to investigate current opportunities emerging in the circular bioeconomy across the island of Ireland and develop a network to improve understandings of opportunities, leverage strengths and promote coordinated policies and supports. As the circular bioeconomy in Ireland largely refers to the agriculture and marine sectors, a key objective of this project is to examine how the circular bioeconomy might help achieve a just transition for these sectors through job creation.
Dr Darren Clarke, from DCU’s School of History and Geography, and Dr Danny Marks, from the DCU School of Law and Government, received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to examine the barriers that impede climate adaptation in Ireland. This research uses a political economy approach and focuses on those sectors exposed to water-related risks, specifically flood risk management; water quality and water services infrastructure; agriculture and; communications. Dr Clarke and Dr Marks will also evaluate whether current adaptation governance structures support or constrain national, subnational and sectoral adaptation efforts, and identify interventions for improved adaptation implementation.
Dr Danny Marks, from the DCU School of Law and Government, and Dr Zainab Oyetunde-Usman of Rothamsted Research, have been awarded seed funding from the British Academy and Royal Irish Academy to conduct research on emission reductions of the livestock industry in Ireland and the UK. Despite both the Irish and the British governments’ commitment to a reduction in emissions from the agriculture sector, actions taken by all stakeholders involved are still limited. The key objective of this research is to examine the political economy barriers which have (and continue to) prevented the Irish and British governments from reducing emissions in this sector and to identify opportunities for policy reform.
Dr Danny Marks, from the School of Law and Government, is collaborating on a project examining climate governance strategies of Nature-based Carbon Sinks in Southeast Asia. This project is funded by the Singapore Ministry of Education and is led by the National University of Singapore. The project aims to strengthen links between the natural and social sciences, by studying the optimal arrangements for governing different types of Nature-based Carbon Sinks, including in terrestrial and mangrove forests, peatlands and agricultural soils. The research will contribute to efforts by ASEAN countries to adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change by developing low-carbon initiatives with social, economic and environmental co-benefits.
Dr Diarmuid Torney, Centre Co-Director and Associate Professor in the DCU School of Law and Government, co-led Ireland’s first Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss in October 2022. Designed with children and young people, the Assembly brought together 35 randomly selected Members aged 7-17 from across Ireland to explore, discuss, and create calls to action on how to protect and restore biodiversity in Ireland. The Children and Young People’s Assembly was run by an academic consortium led by the DCU Centre for Climate and Society and included University College Cork and terre des hommes, an international organisation with a focus on children’s environmental rights. The Assembly was commissioned by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Read the Assembly Members’ 58 Calls to Action
Read the Assembly’s Final Report
Visit the Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss website
Dr Goran Dominioni, from the DCU School of Law and Government, delivered an online training programme on market-based measures for International Maritime Organization (IMO) delegates from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and African States. The training was offered in autumn 2022 and spring 2023. The IMO is working on a suite of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the international shipping sector. Market-based measures form part of this suite and can contribute to reducing emissions from the industry cost effectively and have the potential to raise significant amounts of climate finance. The training programme was a collaboration with the World Bank and funding was received from the Irish Aid Enterprise Fund for International Climate Action.
Dr Dominioni is the Principal Investigator of a World Bank project on decarbonising international shipping. Read a report written with co-authors on distributing carbon revenues from shipping.
Dominioni, Goran; Rojon, Isabelle; Salgmann, Rico; Englert, Dominik; Gleeson, Cáit; Lagouvardou, Sotiria. 2023. Distributing Carbon Revenues from Shipping. © Washington, DC: World Bank.
Dr Dominioni has also written about how to address equity concerns in the decarbonization of international shipping.
Goran Dominioni (2023) Towards an equitable transition in the decarbonization of international maritime transport: Exemptions or carbon revenues? Marine Policy.
Dr Dave Robbins, Dr Diarmuid Torney, and Prof Pat Brereton edited Ireland and the Climate Crisis, a book that examines Ireland’s response to the urgent societal challenge of climate change. It brings together a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to analyse Ireland’s climate record and outlines the key factors that constrain or encourage climate action in Ireland.
In April 2022 Centre Co-Director Prof Pat Brereton published the book Essential Concepts of Environmental Communication. It aims to provide an accessible guide for students, teachers, and researchers to the key concepts in the discourse around climate change. Read more here.
Centre Director Dr Dave Robbins and member Dr Dawn Wheatley of the DCU School of Communications collaborated on a research project examining how climate reporters think about issues such as objectivity, online abuse, polarisation of climate change, and complexity as climate change moves towards the top of the media agenda. A range of late-, mid-, and early-career journalists from the US, UK, and Ireland were interviewed.
Dr Declan Fahy, from the School of Communications, has published several articles about the role that prominent journalists and scientists have in the communication of climate change in society.
Read some of the publications:
Fahy, Declan and Matthew C. Nisbet (2017) The ecomodernists: Journalists reimagining a sustainable future. In Peter Berglez, Ulrika Olausson, and Mats Ots, eds., What is sustainable journalism? Integrating the environmental, social, and economic challenges of journalism, 39-57. London: Peter Lang.
Dr Brenda Mcnally, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre, produced a report entitled Citizen’s Views of Climate Action in Ireland: Insights on Media Use, Trusted Sources and Public Perceptions (2020) which was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The project investigated citizens’ views of and media consumption about climate actions in Ireland. The report supports environmental policymaking by providing data to tailor communication about climate action and to broaden citizen engagement with climate change.
In an article in the Irish Journal of Sociology, Centre member Dr Sean Shanagher explores tendencies in media coverage towards two quite different ‘solutions’: either remaining securely within or departing significantly from the certainties of neoliberalism. The research focus is on critically weighing up the respective strengths of these two responses in the face of climate disruption.
Centre Co-Director Dr Diarmuid Torney conducted a comparative assessment of Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. He assessed the extent to which the new Climate Act delivers eight core components that have been identified in international comparative research as key features of national framework climate laws. Read the report here.
In 2021 Dr Diarmuid Torney collaborated with Dr Cara Augustenborg of UCD and Dr Paul Dean of DCU to assess the Irish Government’s delivery of the Programme for Government (PfG) commitments on climate and the environment. The research project was commissioned by Friends of the Earth Ireland. The report can be downloaded here.
Centre member Dr Darren Clarke, from the DCU School of History and Geography, published two reports in partnership with the Irish local government sector, to inform the sector's current and future climate action policies.
Centre member Dr Markus Pauli from the School of Law and Government, with Prof Subrata K. Mitra and Dr Jivanta Schottli, published Climate Change and India: Balancing Domestic and International Interests. The article analyses how India’s climate change policy is framed, formulated, and implemented. While India's efforts to embrace renewables have been widely lauded, the authors argue that continued investment in coal and fossil fuel subsidies must be urgently reduced. There is also a need for policies to be accompanied by “just transition” measures.
The EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities is a classification system established in 2020 to clarify which investments are environmentally sustainable. Dr Fabiola Schneider, from the DCU Business School, analysed findings of a data vendor survey to look at compliance of corporate activities with the EU Taxonomy.
Dr Sandeep Rao, from the DCU Business School, works predominantly in the area of sustainable corporate finance with a focus on the impact of climate change and extreme weather conditions.
Dr Goran Dominioni from the School of Law and Government has published several articles on carbon pricing.
Dr Dominioni was the Principal Investigator of a World Bank project on "fiscal policy for climate change and Covid-19". In this capacity, on 16 November 2021, Dr Dominioni gave a speech at the World Bank webinar "Securing a Sustainable Recovery" organised by the World Bank Macroeconomics, Trade and Investments Global Practice where he discussed potential strategies to overcome public resistance to carbon pricing. The recordings and slides of the event are available here.
Dr Declan Fahy, from the School of Communications, researched Ireland’s slow movement to a low-carbon society. This transition has followed a distinct process of sustainable development - ecological modernisation which sees ecological protection as compatible with, and underpinning, economic growth.
Fahy, Declan. 2020. Ecological Modernisation, Irish-style: Explaining Ireland’s slow transition to low-carbon society. In: Robbins, D., Torney, D., Brereton, P. (eds.) Ireland and the Climate Crisis, pp.131 – 148. Baskingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
The climate crisis has inspired youth-led activism across the world and young people now lead global campaigns and political protest on climate justice. Dr Brenda Mcnally, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre, has published an article, Altered spaces: new ways of seeing and envisioning nature with Minecraft, that explores young people's visions of environmentally sustainable futures by engaging them in discussion about future planning using Minecraft.
Dr Danny Marks, from the School of Law and Government, recently published two journal articles related to adaptation to climate change.
In “Disentangling the concepts of global climate change, adaptation, and human mobility: a political-ecological exploration in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta (2022)”, the themes of human mobility, adaptation and climate change are explored from a political ecology perspective in the context of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
“Towards a cultural lens for adaptation pathways to climate change (2022)” examines how cultural beliefs, norms, and practices change over time, and are reflected in adaptation pathways since livelihoods do not remain the same over the life course.
Additionally, Dr Marks has published "Photovoice in the age of social media: Helping to build participation needed for urban climate resilience?(2021)" on the methodology of photovoice and its value in the context of non-traditional participation for climate resilience.
In March 2022 the Centre, in conjunction with Community Law & Mediation, launched a new report and set of resources as part of the Voices of Environmental Justice project, funded by the Irish Research Council. Centre member Sadhbh O’Neill was the lead author and Dr Diarmuid Torney also contributed. The report concludes that Ireland’s poorest and most marginalised communities tend to be excluded and side-lined from debates and policy decisions on the environment and climate change. It also sets out key recommendations to improve the monitoring of environmental pollution and its correlation with measures of deprivation and vulnerability, as well as to strengthen the pursuit of environmental justice in Ireland.
Read the report here.
Dr Marina Efthymiou, Program Director of the MSc in Aviation Leadership at the DCU Business School, recently collaborated with the Aircrew Training Policy Group (ATPG) of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on a project examining the incorporation of environmental awareness training as a mandatory requirement on the commercial pilots curriculum.
Irish agriculture is currently dominated by a cattle economy that can be traced from its historical origins under British imperialism to subsequent expansion and intensification since Ireland’s accession to the European Union in 1973. In Pilgrim Hill: Alienated Farmers and Degraded Ecologies.Capitalism Nature Socialism. (2019), Dr Sean Shanagher and Prof Pat Brereton analyse three films that represent Irish farming over the last century—Man of Aran (1934), The Field (1990) and Pilgrim Hill (2014).