Rebecca Byrnes

Policy Analyst

Rebecca is a Policy Analyst with a focus on the key ingredients for an effective transition to a resilient, low carbon economy. Rebecca provides policy support to researchers exploring: how to manage a just transition, climate legislation and governance, and whole-of-economy approaches to building climate resilience in developing communities.


Prior joining the policy analysis team, Rebecca worked in the renewable energy branch within the New South Wales Government in Sydney, Australia, managing a range of projects aiming to remove barriers to the growth of the large scale renewable energy sector in Australia. A particular focus included facilitating the development of new transmission infrastructure to allow the connection of new renewable energy assets on the scale needed to replace retiring coal generators.

Prior to this Rebecca worked as a Legal and Communications Advisor to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) negotiation group in the climate negotiations. This included providing advice on the negotiation of the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’, and supporting initiatives such as the LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative.

Rebecca has a Bachelor of Economics and Laws from the University of Tasmania, as well as a Bachelor of Civil Law (Masters of Law) and an MSc in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Her MSc dissertation explored how to scale up access to decentralised renewable energy in least developed countries.

Research interests

  • Effective policy-making and capacity building approaches for country-driven sustainable development
  • Long-term, strategic policy-making to facilitate a timely, fair and equitable shift to a low carbon economy
  • Climate legislation and governance


Policy publications  9 December, 2019

National laws and policies on climate change adaptation: a global review

This global review of adaptation laws and policies has been undertaken to understand how adaptation to climate change is governed at the national level. It highlights the common areas of focus and also apparent gaps in these laws and policies, making recommendations for policymakers and further research. read more »

Policy publications  17 October, 2019

Submission to the Environment Agency’s consultation on the Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England

This submission was made to the Environment Agency's consultation on its draft strategy for flood and coastal risk management in England, and draws on the Grantham Research Institute's work and expertise over many years in this area. read more »

Policy publications  16 October, 2019

Addressing the impacts of climate change through an effective Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage

This paper is a submission to the second review of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place at COP25 in December. The submission looks at the Loss and Damage policy debate, how it relates to other international frameworks and efforts in the areas of mitigation, adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, and identifies how the WIM can be most effective. read more »

Policy publications  9 October, 2019

Submission to Call for Evidence on Flooding and Coastal Erosion by Defra

This paper summarises the Institute's submission to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ call for evidence on policy direction to prepare the UK for flooding and coastal erosion, drawing on a decade of work by the Grantham Research Institute with the insurance industry and policymakers addressing issues around climate change and adaptation. read more »

Policy publications  2 August, 2019

Global lessons for the UK in carbon taxes

This policy brief analyses global trends in carbon taxation and differences in tax design around the world to draw out lessons for the design of a possible new carbon tax for the UK, as the country plans how to meet its ambitious new net-zero emissions target and how it prices carbon after Brexit. read more »

Policy publications  4 July, 2019

Global trends in climate change litigation: 2019 snapshot

This policy report provides an overview of current issues in climate change litigation, focusing on selected cases and developments from May 2018 to May 2019.  read more »

Policy publications  22 May, 2019

How to price carbon to reach net-zero emissions in the UK

This report explains the importance of pricing carbon as a key component of any strategy to reach net-zero emissions in the UK, setting out how the price may differ sector to sector and how to incentivise negative emissions. read more »

More in policy publications


In the news  1 December, 2019

Poor states ‘need extra cash to combat climate crisis threats’

Rebecca Byrnes and Swenja Surminski discuss their new report on addressing the impacts of climate change. read more »

Commentary  16 October, 2019

Addressing the impacts of climate change through an effective Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage

Rebecca Byrnes and Swenja Surminski outline progress of actions taken under the Warsaw International Mechanisms on Loss and Damage - which is designed to help countries deal with the harm caused by climate change - and how to enhance its effectiveness, as the COP25 climate conference gears up to reviewing the mechanism in December. read more »

Commentary  16 September, 2019

People over profits: Learning from the rise in climate change lawsuits

Companies are increasingly in the firing line for climate litigation and they need to be thinking about liability risk when making the decisions that impact how they run their businesses and the information they provide to shareholders and the public, says Rebecca Byrnes. read more »

In the news  2 August, 2019

What the UK can learn from carbon pricing schemes

Josh Burke and Rebecca Byrnes discuss new research into global approaches to carbon pricing. read more »

In the news  9 July, 2019

Climate activists turn to lawsuits to force action on global warming report on the analysis of climate litigation cases worldwide, noting that citizens and organizations have filed more than 1,300 lawsuits related to climate change in at least 28 countries around the world. read more »

In the news  4 July, 2019

Climate change lawsuits spreading around the world, says report

he findings of the report also feature as one of the lead stories on the CNN homepage. read more »

In the news  4 July, 2019

Climate change litigation is global phenomenon

The Times Law reported the findings that legal actions over failure to act on climate change have kicked off in at least 28 countries. read more »

Commentary  28 May, 2019

Why it is important to work with conservative governments like Australia’s on climate change

Rebecca Byrnes sets out three ways to progress climate action in Australia following the re-election of the centre-right Coalition. read more »


Commentary  19 December, 2018

Agreeing the Paris Rulebook: did COP24 deliver? Reflections from the Grantham Research Institute’s Post-COP event

Identifying progress within the annual round of international climate negotiations can be a challenging business. The sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention … read more »

Commentary  5 December, 2018

Shining the spotlight on human rights at COP24 and beyond

As the implementation guidelines to the Paris Agreement are negotiated at COP24, this commentary asks whether and to what extent they will include human rights language, and reviews examples from around the world of how human rights issues are gaining more prominence in relation to climate action. read more »

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