Richard Black steps down as ECIU Director

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit says farewell to its Director and founder, Richard Black

By George Smeeton

Information on this page correct as of:

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit today says farewell to its Director and founder, Richard Black.

Richard set up ECIU as a non-profit organisation in 2014 to support informed debate on energy and climate change issues in the UK. Since then, ECIU has worked to support journalists, parliamentarians and other communicators with accurate and accessible briefings on key issues, and to work with individuals and organisations that have a contribution to make to the climate debate, helping them connect to the national conversation.

Richard Black launched ECIU in 2014.
Richard Black launched ECIU in 2014.

Richard will continue to work with ECIU as a Senior Associate until the COP26 climate summit in November 2021, whilst also pursuing other projects in the climate space. He will be replaced as Director by current Deputy Director Peter Chalkley.

Commenting on his time at ECIU, Richard Black said: “It has been an incredible privilege to lead ECIU through a period of phenomenal change – from a time when evidence on climate change and decarbonisation was routinely under attack in the UK through to the present day, where the nation has a world-leading net zero target in law, is preparing to host a seminal UN climate summit, and where this is all backed by a substantial majority of the population.

“ECIU is nothing without its people and my deepest thanks go to everyone who’s been a part of it – the team itself, the incredible Advisory Board, and the extended group of ‘friends’ we’ve made along the way.

“No-one has been more essential to ECIU’s success than Pete Chalkley – we set the organisation up together, and I have every confidence that under Pete’s leadership ECIU will go on to even bigger and better things.”

Incoming Director Peter Chalkley said: “Richard is a towering figure in climate communications and a passionate promoter of science.

“As a former journalist, with extensive experience of covering climate change and UN climate summits, Richard appreciated the challenge and complexity of reporting on the climate story’s myriad angles. His vision for ECIU as a means of supporting informed debate and the journalism that underpins that remains so very relevant today as the UK hosts COP26 and embarks on its multifaceted journey to net zero emissions.

“We are hugely grateful for Richard’s incisive mind, boundless energy and good humour. We look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Geoffrey Lean, who worked as an environmental journalist in titles including the Observer, Independent on Sunday and Daily Telegraph, said: “Richard filled a big gap when he founded ECIU almost seven years ago – for an authoritative and reliable independent source of information on energy and climate change, backed by figures from across the political and disciplinary spectra.

“He leaves when political opinion has been transformed, especially on the Right, something in which ECIU has played no small part. And, along the way, it helped me greatly when researching some original columns!”

Joanna Haigh, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London and ECIU Advisory Board Member, said: “In just six years Richard has overseen the growth of ECIU from a mere concept to an influential body and hugely valuable resource.

“His in-depth understanding of climate issues and ability to express these in simple language, combined with a collaborative approach and personal modesty, has enabled ECIU to reach parts of the establishment almost inaccessible to others. Thanks, Richard, and best wishes for whatever follows”.

Former Environment Minister and ECIU Advisory Board member, Richard Benyon said: “Richard Black should feel huge pride in creating the ECIU and seeing it become the best place to find facts about energy and climate change. He is a fantastic communicator and I know will continue to be so in any future role, particularly as we approach next year’s COP.”

Richard joined the BBC World Service in 1985 as a studio manager. He subsequently worked there as producer and presenter on a wide range of programming including current affairs, science, health and sport, and as Science Correspondent. As BBC Environment Correspondent, his reporting assignments included many UN summits including five UNFCCC meetings and Rio+20. In 2018 he wrote 'Denied: The Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism', the only book about the UK's climate contrarian elite, its influence and its retreat. Richard frequently contributes to UK broadcast programmes and news media, including taking part in the BBC's 'Climate Change: The Facts' presented by Sir David Attenborough.