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Chief Executive

Psychology and the climate crisis

28 November 2019 | by Chief Executive

We’ll be going to the polls in a couple of weeks to elect a new government, and with so many competing priorities in politics right now it can be difficult to know what is being proposed in some areas.

We recently released our psychological manifesto for the election, which calls on all political parties to think more about how their policies can be improved and developed by including more psychological evidence and expertise.

This applies to many of the areas which will be high on any incoming government’s priority list, including health, education and, of course, poverty.

This is our campaigning priority for the next year, and I urge any members with relevant expertise to apply to join the Expert Reference Group which will be tasked with driving it forward.

One thing which we didn’t include this time is the climate crisis, only because we’re yet to bring together our members’ expertise in clear policy positions as we have in some other areas.

It will be one of the themes of our 2020 conference in Leeds, and in the meantime I joined our President David Murphy in Lisbon last month to represent the society at the first International Summit on Psychology and Global Health.

We were kindly invited by joint organisers the American Psychological Association and Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses, the membership body for psychologists in Portugal.

Membership bodies from 40 nations were represented at the summit, and on behalf of the BPS David was one of 43 people to sign a pledge and declaration, committing us to encourage leaders to use more psychological science when developing climate change policies and acknowledging the scientific consensus.

We also volunteered to be part of a smaller group of psychological membership bodies who will be working together to take this issue forward.

This will initially involve collating all of the material which psychologists have already produced through research and practice, and narrowing down the areas where we can prioritise and have the most impact.

There is an urgent need for collective action on the climate crisis, at household, community and nation levels, and I know that psychologists have the expertise to help make that happen.

It will need to be a collaborative effort across disciplines and international boundaries, but ultimately the issue far too great for us not to be involved in.

If you have any ideas or suggestions on how psychology can contribute please get in touch, and I’ll have an update as soon as the next steps following the Lisbon meeting have been agreed.

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