Award for outstanding contribution in public outreach and communication


The Climate Science Communications Award is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions in the field of climate science and proactive outreach activities to communicate climate science. The Prize is awarded to a member of the Society who has made a significant contribution, in the field of climate science, and who has also excelled in increasing the understanding of climate science among members of the general public.

The Michael Hunt Award, which commemorates the achievements of Michael Hunt who was a TV weatherman, is given biennially (and not open in 2019) for excellence in increasing the understanding of meteorology or its applied disciplines among members of the general public. The call for nominations for the Michael Hunt 2020 award is now open.

Climate Science Communications Award

Professor Richard Betts

professor richard betts

Professor Richard Betts has demonstrated excellence in increasing the understanding of climate change among members of the general public for many years, through extensive engagement in mainstream media, social media and public speaking at high-profile events, which reach a very wide audience.

Professor Betts has been interviewed in a vast number of reports for both written and broadcast media outlets and has spoken about climate change to numerous large audiences, for example at major festivals across the UK. Professor Betts also operates a popular Twitter account @richardabetts, which currently has over 20,000 followers with  a status of ‘Blue Tick’ account by Twitter, confirming its high popular interest and authenticity. His account was included in Time Magazine’s list of 140 Best Twitter Accounts in 2012.

In June 2019, Professor Betts was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for “services to understanding climate change”. Professor Betts acts as a bridge between two polarised groups, the so called ‘sceptics’ and the ‘activists’ and he has many followers in both camps. More generally, Professor Betts plays an important role by engaging widely with both environmentalists and sceptics, being trusted and respected by both. This is rare in the polarised world of online climate debate and so Professor Betts is a very worthy recipient of the Climate Science Communication Award.

Acceptance message

I feel honoured to have been awarded the Climate Science Communications Award of the Royal Meteorological Society for 2019, and am delighted to accept it.

Communicating the science of climate change is as challenging as it has ever been, maybe more so. This is a vast, multi-disciplinary field with enormous implications for society, and research is being conducted within a context of growing public concern and heightened passions for climate action, along with controversy over proposed ways forward.

Good decisions in reducing climate risks need a sound appreciation of current scientific knowledge, including areas of confidence and – crucially – areas where we are less certain about future outcomes. It is also critical for scientists to listen to others to understand how best to advise them. Discussing this amid the melee of different voices, views and motivations can be difficult, but also rewarding. I hope I’ve been of some help in cutting through the noise.

I’m grateful to the many friends and colleagues who have helped me find my way so far, and who continue to do so. I very much appreciate the trust that the Met Office and University of Exeter have shown me in allowing me to represent our organisations. I am also grateful to the many people and organisations who have taken an interest in my work and helped me share it with others, including the IPCC, media outlets, government departments, citizens’ groups, artists, musicians, festivals, and the Royal Meteorological Society itself. I look forward to continuing the conversation!