U.K. nationals: Senior Climate Science Advisor

U.K. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Various, , GB


Flexible location from any Defra site or possibly from offices of ALBs. See attached pack for full details. There may be occasional travel required to London for conferences or wider team events and to the Met Office in Exeter.

About the job


Please see the attached candidate pack for full details of the role including working arrangements, selection process details, and recruitment timeline.

This role is being offered as a fixed term appointment as a Senior Climate Advisor in Defra for up to 18 months. The work that the appointee will carry out during the fixed term is included below. The post is expected to end by 31 March 2022.

***Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we are now all required to work from home if possible. This applies to this role until such time that the restrictions on travel and working arrangements are lifted, at which point location arrangements will be reviewed. In the meantime you will retain your current location arrangements.***

Job description

The climate is changing causing substantial risks to people, nature, infrastructure and wellbeing. Defra is the lead department for UK adaptation to climate change including implementing a 5 yearly adaptation policy cycle as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. Defra are also responsible for several sectors under climate mitigation (i.e. agriculture, land use, forestry, F-gases and waste).

It is a critical time for climate action and the UK has a vital role to play. The UK is hosting the next UN Climate Conference (COP26), seen by many as the first major test of the international Paris Agreement. Domestically we have also committed to delivering net zero by 2050.

We are looking someone to join our Climate Science team to help with this exciting period of change.

The role will include leading aspects of our work on the next statutory Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), to better understand the risks to the UK from climate change. This informs the National Adaptation Programme (NAP), which helps to build climate resilience by addressing the risks identified in the CCRA.

In order to ensure adaptation and mitigation is robust and based on the best available science, Defra and BEIS co-fund the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) (approximately £18m per annum). The MOHC is consistently rated amongst the top climate research institutions in the world and outputs from the programme include the UK Climate Projections (UKCP18).

Shaping the direction of future research so it is aligned with Defra priorities will be an important part of the role. In both cases this will build on previous assessments as well as horizon scanning to the future to determine research required to fill evidence gaps.

You will have an important outward facing role managing Defra’s relationships with BEIS, the Committee on Climate Change, UK Research & Innovation and the Met Office Hadley Centre and will also have exposure to senior officials and academics including Defra Chief Scientific Advisor and leading climate science experts.


The post -holder’s main duties are set out below:

• Establish effective relationships with policy colleagues across Defra and other relevant Government Departments in order to provide technical advice including scientific input for COP26, National Adaptation Programme, Net Zero and Greenhouse Gas Removals.
• Co-ordinate Defra’s response to the government review of the IPCC sixth assessment report.
• Lead and manage relationship with the Committee on Climate Change on the Evidence Report for the next Climate Change Risk Assessment.
• Manage the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme, including ensuring the new 3 year work deliverables and underpinning science covers Defra priorities and deliverables of the programme into a workplan
• Managing the continuous improvement of the UK Climate Projections and review the process for future climate information.
• Influence the direction of future research on climate mitigation and resilience, for example through steering the Strategic Priorities Fund research programmes on Climate Resilience (£19m invested) and Greenhouse Gas Reductions (£32m invested).
• Working with colleagues in Defra and BEIS to co-ordinate and provide Defra science input into GHG inventory and carbon budgets

The following Experience criteria are essential to this post:
• Building and managing relationships both within government and more widely (e.g. within Defra, BEIS, Committee on Climate Change, Met Office)
• Horizon scanning, identifying evidence gaps and research areas
• Influencing wider research communities (e.g. academia, UK Research & Innovation)

The following knowledge, membership and qualifications are essential to this post:
• A degree in relevant subject (i.e. BSc/MSc/PhD in climate, atmospheric or environmental science).
• Communicating complex scientific issues to a range of audiences


• A degree in relevant subject (i.e. BSc/MSc/PhD in climate, atmospheric or environmental science).


We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Working Together

We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace

Technical skills

We’ll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • • Communicating complex scientific issues to a range of audiences


• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths, Experience and Technical skills.
Your application will be assessed using the Civil Service Success Profiles recruitment framework. This framework allows us to use a combination of criteria to describe the requirements of the post to candidates. It then allows for candidates to provide evidence against those criteria during the selection process. Not all posts will make use of every criteria.

What you need to do to apply
To apply, please complete the advertised CS Jobs application process by submitting a 500 word personal statement explaining how you meet the Experience and Technical Skills listed above. In addition, you will be asked to submit two 250 word statements explaining how you meet the Behaviours ‘communicating and influencing’ and ‘delivering at pace’.

How we decide whom to invite for interview
Shortlisting for interview is made on the basis of merit. The selection panel will assess the evidence presented by all applicants against the advertised criteria and the highest rated applicants will be invited to interview.

Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead Behaviour, Communicating and Influencing. Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straight to assessment/interview.

Interview arrangements
Candidates who are invited to interview will be given a pre released topic ahead of the interview for a short presentation. The interview will be a combined assessment to test Behaviours, Experience, Technical Skills and Strengths.

The anticipated recruitment timeline is as follows:
Application Closing Date 23.55 10th July 2020
Sift Commences Expected week commencing 13th July 2020
Interview Commence Expected week commencing 27th July 2020
Outcomes Expected Expected week commencing 3rd August 2020
Interviews will take place electronically due to the restrictions in place for COVID-19.

Candidates are asked to note the above timetable, exercising flexibility through the recruitment and selection process as it may not be possible to offer any alternative dates for assessments or interviews.

A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

New entrants will be expected to join on the minimum of the payband.

Merit Lists
Where more than one location is advertised, candidates will be posted in merit order by location. You will be asked to state your location preference on your application.

Reasonable Adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

– Contact Government Recruitment Service via [email protected] as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs.
– Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.

Criminal Record Check
If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check maybe carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing [email protected] stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

Childcare Vouchers
Any move to Defra will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You will however have access to the governments Tax Free Childcare scheme.

Internal Fraud Database Check
Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

Loan and Fixed Term Appointments
Existing Civil Servants and applicants from accredited NDPBs are eligible to apply, but will only be considered on loan basis (Civil Servants) or secondment (accredited NDPBs). Prior agreement to be released on a loan basis must be obtained before commencing the application process. In the case of Civil Servants, the terms of the loan will be agreed between the home and host department and the Civil Servant. This includes grade on return.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email: [email protected]

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission

We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to Coronavirus, and will be following central Government advice as it is issued. There is therefore a risk that recruitment to this post may be subject to change at short notice. Please continue to follow the application process as normal and ensure that you check your emails regularly for any updates from us as this is how we will communicate with you.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name : The EU Vacancies Team
Email : [email protected]
Recruitment team :
Email : [email protected]