Engaging with climate change

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A young researcher from the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus has been striving to get more businesses to engage with climate change to help innovate Cornwall’s low carbon economy.

Kathi Kaesehage
Kathi Kaesehage

Kathi Kaesehage is working on a PhD project looking at how climate change is perceived by SMEs in Cornwall and why, despite the growing evidence, businesses rarely engage with its opportunities and threats.

She has been working closely with over 30 SMEs in Cornwall and explained: “The research shows that one of the main reasons for the lack of engagement is that business leaders perceive climate change science as negative and impracticable.

“Current climate change communications largely miss this point concentrating on improving the quality of climate science knowledge rather than recognising that end users do not want yet more, often very similar, information.”

Kaesehage recently held a workshop where Cornish business leaders, representatives from governmental bodies and scientists came together to discuss the importance of climate change for the future of Cornwall’s economy.

Dr Michael Leyshon, senior lecturer in geography at the University of Exeter, said: “Kathi’s excellent research is beginning to shed light on an important but little understood topic, namely, how climate change knowledge can shape and influence future business decisions.”

Once Kaesehage has completed her PhD she plans to stay in Cornwall and develop her research further to positively contribute to Cornwall’s economic and low carbon future.

The PhD project is part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) Research Programme, which is funded by the European Social Fund.