Imperial College London

Dr Richard Carmichael, CPsychol, FRSA

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Research Associate







Energy Futures LabElectrical EngineeringSouth Kensington Campus





Richard Carmichael is Research Associate within the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London and Co-Leader of the Behaviour change in Energy and Environment Policy (‘BEEP’) Research Network 

  • Co-Investigator for UKERC Flexible Fund project to develop a climate Co-benefits Tracker to support policy design and engagement (Win-Window: Tracking the co-benefits of a green recovery - 
  • Project Advisor &/ Behaviour Expert for:
    - several BEIS-funded projects related to consumers and Net Zero including 'Smarter Tariffs-Smarter Comparisons' (2020-2021); 'Net Zero Societal Change Evidence and Analysis' delivered by Energy Systems Catapult (2020-21); and 'Energy and Climate Change Behavioural Science Framework' with BIT and Energy Systems Catapult (2021-ongoing).
    - Greener and Cleaner Bromley & Beyond community sustainability hub.
  • Member of the British Psychological Society’s Climate and Environmental Crisis Steering Group.
  • Expert Advisory Group member for Government Office for Science project, ‘A Net Zero Society: Scenarios and Pathways’ (ongoing).

A Chartered Psychologist, Richard has a broad social science background with 13 years post-doctoral research experience in behaviour change, consumer engagement and policy, working within interdisciplinary multi-partner projects and as a researcher and consultant collaborating with academic and industry partners and government (including BEIS, Ofgem, Defra and the CCC). His research interests are in action-oriented and policy-relevant work for accelerating societal and system change for Net Zero. Particular interests include: energy (flexibility, heat, electric vehicles...), technology adoption, diet, data-led ICT/digital tools, real world data, peer-to-peer learning and positive feedback effects.

In 2018-19 he was seconded to the Climate Change Committee working within the central analytical team in the CCC Secretariat providing social science analysis to support the Committee’s advice on the UK’s Net Zero emissions target. He authored the independent report, Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero (Oct 2019) with policy recommendations for engagement and high-impact shifts in household behaviour across transport, aviation, heating and diet. This high-impact report received considerable media attention and the work helped to inform the Committee’s report on Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming (May 2019) and demand-side recommendations in their Letter: International aviation and shipping and net zero (Sept 2019) and Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK report (Jan 2020).

Recommendations included an Air Miles Levy (since supported by 81% of members of the Climate Assembly UK) and developing several data-led digital tools for behaviour change and system change for Net Zero. He has since worked on implementing some of these recommendations including: the BEIS-funded Smarter Tariffs - Smarter Comparisons project which developed an open-source smarter price comparison tool for smart electricity tariffs and end-user technologies; and the UKERC-funded Win-Window: Tracking the co-benefits of a green recovery project which will develop a climate Co-benefits Tracker to support policy design and engagement. He is exploring the potential of other data-led digital tools to reduce barriers to heat pump adoption and more sustainable food consumption and production.

He has produced several high-impact briefing papers on energy policy areas, including: residential consumer engagement with demand response services and technologies; smart and flexible electric heat; and a policy briefing note with recommendations for HM Treasury’s review into the cost of Net Zero. He is Project Advisor & Behaviour Expert for several BEIS-funded projects related to Net Zero including: Net Zero Societal Change Evidence and Analysis (delivered by Energy Systems Catapult); and Energy and Climate Change Behavioural Science Framework (with BIT and Energy Systems Catapult).

Richard has worked on several projects exploring residential consumer engagement with smart time-varying electricity tariffs and Demand Side Response technologies, including a recent Energy Futures Lab briefing paper (presented at House of Commons, BEIS, Ofgem, and Smart Energy GB). He led research and analysis of consumer engagement on the UK's first trial of 'wind-following' dynamic pricing for residential electricity within the LCNF-supported 'Low Carbon London' project and was part of a small team that delivered a consultation for Ofgem on the distributional impacts of time-of-use tariffs

Prior to working at Imperial College, he was Research Fellow in Psychology at Goldsmiths, responsible for user and industry research across three EC-funded (FP6) ICT/digital media technology research projects including technology adoption, user experience and market segmentations.

He is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) and holds an MA Hons (I) in Psychology (Dundee), an MSc (Dist) in Critical Social Psychology (Lancaster) and a PG Cert (Dist) in coaching psychology and career coaching (UEL). His PhD (Loughborough, 2002) looked at becoming vegetarian/vegan from the perspective of social identity and self-narrative drawing on discursive psychology and rhetorical social psychology.

Outside of academia, Richard has worked in publishing, TEFL (France) and chimpanzee and elephant conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Specialities/expertise: behaviour change, public engagement, policy and system change for Net Zero | positive feedback loops for Net Zero | technology adoption (especially smart energy tariffs and end-user technologies for demand response, incl., heat pumps and EVs) | data-led digital tools for behaviour and system change | co-benefits of climate action | social psychology of sustainable diets/vegetarian/veganism/ animal food avoidance | advertising | rhetorical social psychology and discursive psychology, especially with respect to social identity/self-narrative | coaching psychology and evidence-based coaching practice | wellbeing.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Carmichael R, Gross R, Hanna R, et al., 2021, The Demand Response Technology Cluster: accelerating UK residential consumer engagement with time-of-use tariffs, electric vehicles and smart meters via digital comparison tools, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol:139, ISSN:1364-0321


Carmichael RICHARD, Halttunen KRISTA, Palazzo Corner SOFIA, et al., 2021, Paying for UK Net Zero: principles for a cost-effective and fair transition

Carmichael R, Rhodes A, Hanna R, et al., 2020, Smart and flexible electric heat: an energy futures lab briefing paper, Smart and Flexible Electric Heat: An Energy Futures Lab Briefing Paper

Carmichael R, 2019, Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero, a report for the Committee on Climate Change, London, UK, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology (ICEPT) and Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP)

More Publications