Science into policy

Informing UK Government policy areas

BAS is in regular dialogue with policy officials within UK Government departments including the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Polar Regions Department, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to provide:

  • Expert advice to key members of the UK Government delegation to the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, and to its related bodies, including the Convention on the Conservation or Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Frequent briefing visits to BAS Cambridge by parliamentarians including the House of Lords and House of Commons Select Committees, Ministers of State from DSIT and FCDO
  • Written and oral science briefings to DSIT, especially with respect to climate change science
  • Secondment of science members of staff to departments to work on initiatives to improve communication of and engagement in climate research
  • Advice to Government, through the Space Environment Impact Expert Group, on the space environment and its impact on UK infrastructure and business (space weather)
Ice core demonstration
Parliamentarians in the ice core freezer rooms, during a climate science briefing at BAS Cambridge

Influencing international climate policy

Many of the statements in the internationally recognised reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are underpinned by BAS research and valued as the source of policy advice on climate change.  IPCC reports are the authoritative consensus of climate scientists, and are accepted by 120 governments. Through its involvement in this activity BAS influences thinking about the wide-ranging implications for economic and societal well-being, which leads to direct impact on international agreements and legislation.

Shaping international conservation policy

For over 30 years the British Antarctic Survey’s pioneering conservation biology research has provided critical expertise and evidence to support the UK Government’s leadership role in influencing national and international policies and agreements to protect, conserve and sustainably manage Southern Ocean fisheries as well as marine and terrestrial ecosystems in Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic. Research, technological developments and strong scientific leadership have resulted in sustainable fisheries, the designation of large-scale Marine Protected Areas, the virtual elimination of seabird mortality associated with fishing, and a license agreement with a small business for production and marketing of in-house bird-tracking technology.

Advising government risk policy

The global impact of a severe space weather event has been estimated at US$ 2 trillion1. The major risk to the UK is a partial power blackout, loss of several satellites and satellite services, and disruption to aviation and transport. BAS has developed research models into a system that forecasts the risk of damage to satellites in collaboration with two commercial companies. BAS also advises Government on the impact of space weather which led to its inclusion on the Cabinet Office National Risk Register of Civil Emergences (since 2012) at the same level as heat-waves and heavy snow.