It is with great sadness that the ECI has learned of the death of our former colleague and Director of the UK Climate Impacts Programme, Dr Chris West.
Chris West led the ECI’s UK Climate Impacts Programme from 2002 – 2012 working at the boundary between research and society on impacts of climate change and how to adapt to those impacts. He began his career as an engineer before turning to zoology at Oxford University (BA, 1975) and a subsequent PhD at London University (1984). Chris undertook research on gorillas in Rwanda, foxes in Britain and soil animals on South Georgia. Between 1983 and 1990 he worked on breeding endangered species at Jersey and Bristol Zoos, before moving to administration of environmental science, joining the National Environmental Research Council in 1991.
During his time as Director for UKCIP, Chris grew the team from 12 to 20 at a time when climate adaptation was moving into the mainstream and beginning to be seen as an essential part of the climate conundrum. His foresight steered UKCIP towards making a real difference in how many local authorities, government departments and businesses adapted to climate change and prepared for the extreme weather events that we now know to be a measurable side effect of climate change. He retired from Oxford University in 2012. He was also instrumental in the ECI’s efforts to link climate change with the arts, through a series of high-profile events between scientists and artists.
Chris West (pictured far-left) returned to ECI in 2017, along with the other former directors, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of UKCIP.