Task force advice

Scientists call for more effective climate change research

Ondergelopen wandelpad in Gelderland
The Waal river, overflowed at Rossum (Gelderland). Photo: DUB

The report was commissioned by the executive boards of the two organisations, who have embraced the recommendations, according to a press release. This could mean a sea of change in the way research is funded in the Netherlands.

According to the report's authors, scientific research needs about 100 million euros a year to contribute more effectively to the transition to a climate-neutral society by 2050. They also argue that it would be unwise to have researchers compete for this funding.

Not too late yet
“We can still prevent the worst irreversible consequences of climate change”, lead author Heleen de Coninck writes in the press release. De Coninck is a professor of Innovation Studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology, in addition to being affiliated with Radboud University in Nijmegen. “But this will only succeed if scientists and relevant social actors work together intensively on system transitions.”

These transitions will have an impact on agriculture, urban planning, transport, and food supply. People need to eat less meat, stop using concrete and get rid of private cars... But how can we achieve all that? By doing lots of research, says the report.

The authors also call for a ‘Dutch Climate Research Initiative’ (in Dutch, Klimaatonderzoek Initiatief Nederland, abbreviated to KIN), which would manage the proposed budget of 100 million euros. Approximately half of this budget is to be earmarked for research on system change. Around 30 million will go to international research, such as cooperation with developing countries.

The report stresses that researchers should not have to compete for this funding. While competition between scientists could potentially raise the quality of research, it could also slow things down, as highly relevant projects would fall by the wayside.

De Coninck: “To be relevant, KIN needs to serve society and deliver results much faster. This will require researchers to have a different set of skills.”

This means that social impact will need to take precedence over publications in prestigious journals. “The urgency of climate change does not allow us the time to perfect the selection of research”, according to the report’s authors.