Radboud University will lead a research consortium on high-integrity voluntary climate action towards a net zero world

With the support of 5.5 million euros from the European Commission, a consortium led by prof. Birka Wicke (department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Science) and dr. Sander Chan (department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Nijmegen School of Management) will identify opportunities to strengthen and scale up high-integrity voluntary climate action in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a global scale. The project “Achieving High-Integrity Voluntary Climate Action” (acronym ACHIEVE) will bring together key interdisciplinary expertise in voluntary climate action and climate governance featuring academic institutions, think tanks, research institutes, for-profit and non-profit organisations, and NGOs.

Voluntary climate action by non-state and local actors, such as businesses, investors, local communities, and NGOs, promises to help a global transition towards a climate resilient and low- or zero-carbon future. This is particularly important as national governments currently fail to act commensurate with the Paris Climate Agreement, in which they committed to limiting global warming to 1,5°C or 2°C, and to achieve a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals (net zero) by the second half of this century. Yet, non-state and local actors’ environmental claims are often unsubstantiated, and some voluntary actions rely on the deployment of controversial carbon offsets and/or the use of debatable technologies (e.g., for carbon capture and storage), raising questions of integrity and suspicions of greenwashing. Integrity is therefore key to realizing the promise of voluntary climate action, and for avoiding the worsening climate impacts, including extreme weather, ecological damage, and economic and societal disruptions.

Towards high-integrity voluntary climate action

The ACHIEVE project will provide new scientific understanding for strengthening and scaling up voluntary climate action with high integrity at its core.           

Birka Wicke: “We need interdisciplinary collaboration that integrates research strands on climate effectiveness and sustainability impacts with legitimacy, transparency and credibility to make sure voluntary climate action can properly and with high integrity contribute to our climate goals. I am very excited our interdisciplinary research ideas were funded and that we can now start to implement them.”

Sander Chan: "Taking on the climate challenge involves more than just cutting emissions to zero. It's about our dedication to environmental integrity and societal fairness. Our approach revolves around collaboration between natural and social scientists. This interdisciplinary teamwork is necessary to strengthen our ability to keep the promises of voluntary climate action."

Interdisciplinary and international consortium

In paving the way to high-integrity voluntary climate action, the ACHIEVE consortium will engage policymakers and other societal stakeholders, both in Europe and globally, such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Through co-creation with stakeholders, capacity building and the development of frameworks for the assessment of voluntary climate action, ACHIEVE will equip stakeholders with competencies for ensuring high-integrity voluntary climate action. Through building trust and providing transparency, ACHIEVE will give tools to identify greenwashing and act against it, and foster high-integrity climate action in both developed and developing countries.

ACHIEVE also showcases the support provided by Radboud Innovation Science for project proposal development. The project coordination officer Jasper Uijttenboogaart and the knowledge transfer officer dr. Francisco J. Arjona Madueño contributed to ACHIEVE.

Jasper Uijttenboogaart: “We had a very pleasant collaboration during the development of the project and grant application phase. I think ACHIEVE has an unique and strong consortium. I look forward to the project and its results.”

Francisco J. Arjona Madueño: “Participating in the design of the valorisation strategy for ACHIEVE together with ACHIEVE’s partners has been very satisfying. ACHIEVE will develop an impact pathway that will fully unveil the value of high-integrity voluntary climate action in contributing to net zero.”  

ACHIEVE consists of: Radboud University, University of Eastern Finland, Stockholm University, University of Oxford, NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management), Öko-Institute - Institute for Applied Ecology, E3-Modeling, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, HOLISTIC, World Wide Fund for Nature, and CDP Europe. 

schematische weergave van ACHIEVE factoren