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Cambridgeshire Roadmap to Net Zero wins funding boost

05 January 2024

Collaboration to create a roadmap to Net Zero for local authorities is set to begin, after Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – gave its backing to a partnership bid led by Cambridgeshire County Council.

This work will seek to create a framework between local and central government for the local reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (tC02e) and how this contributes to national ambitions on climate change.

Known as ‘locally determined contributions’, this work follows on from the national Net Zero Review findings announced earlier in the year which highlighted the importance of local government leadership and place-based action to combat the climate crisis.

Back in 2019 the government made a legally binding commitment to become a Net Zero country by 2050.

£150,000 was awarded to the Cambridgeshire partnership to create the framework, with supporting evidence developed with the University of Cambridge’s Hughes Hall and Collaborate CiC. Once developed, it is anticipated that the governance framework can be used as a blueprint across the country.

The monies have been allocated under Innovate UK’s ‘Net Zero Living Programme’ which aims to overcome barriers to cutting carbon, speed up processes and encourage finance and investment in local emissions reductions.

The partnership includes the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cambridge City Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Huntingdon District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Collaborate CIC and the University of Cambridge’s Hughes Hall.

Detailed work will begin in February 2024 and the collaboration will take place over the following 18 months.

A particular area this collective research will look to clarify is where responsibility for emissions sits between local and national bodies. This work also aims to create one Cambridgeshire-wide carbon emissions target. An example of where greater clarity is needed is transport emissions, which make up 27% of Cambridgeshire’s carbon footprint and are counted in the location where they are produced. This means that carbon emissions from motorways and major roads including the A14 and M11, which are the responsibility of National Highways and central government are currently included in the local area carbon footprint. A shared way forward needs to be agreed on how to reduce transport emissions.

Chair of Cambridgeshire Environment and Green Investment Committee, Councillor Lorna Dupre commented: “Finding a fair route to Net Zero for local authorities and local communities, in line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement is crucial if we are to address rising global temperatures.

“We know we all need to play our part to reduce emissions but knowing what’s best and what makes the most difference can be difficult for us as individuals. We encounter similar issues - but on a much larger scale – when we look at climate policy as we work to understand how to create a low carbon future for Cambridgeshire.

“Leading this project and developing a framework which quantifies our respective roles and responsibilities as a Council is essential to organise and finance system-wide change. Our work will form best practice for all local authorities, as we endeavour to meet the challenge of climate change together.”