Declaring a Climate and Environment Emergency
"Our natural and built environment is the most precious inheritance for which we act as caretakers for the next generation.
There is also global consensus that man-made climate change poses significant risk to our health, our economy, our environment, and endangers the wellbeing of future generations. Air borne, water and land pollution is also another global environmental concern.
People of all ages, all walks of life and all social and economic backgrounds in Cambridgeshire are becoming increasingly concerned they will leave or inherit an environment that is irreparably damaged, forcing others to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today."
This statement underpins the Climate and Environment Emergency declaration we made in May 2019. It summarises the wide reaching impacts climate change and environment degradation is already having, and will increasingly have, on our daily lives.
This declaration set us on a pathway to securing a sustainable future for our County and its residents. It committed us to developing a Strategy and Action Plan for reducing carbon emissions, improving resilience to climate impacts and encouraging and enhancing the natural environment, and set out our vision for Cambridgeshire.
Leading by Example - UK100
In 2020, we signed up to the UK100 clean energy pledge, committing to secure 100% clean energy for Cambridgeshire by 2050.
By signing up to the UK100 network we have pledged to secure clean energy, relegating fossil fuels to the past as much as it can, and for Cambridgeshire to become part of an exciting smart new energy system.
UK100 is the only network for UK locally elected leaders who have pledged to play their part in the global effort to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It brings together local authorities to share knowledge, collaborate, and petition the UK government with their collective power. They are working together to create flourishing communities, seizing the opportunities of technology to create jobs and establishing a nationwide project of renewal, focussed on local needs and ambitions.
In recognition of our work, the Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Councillor Steve Count, was appointed Co-Chair of UK100’s Countryside Climate Network (CCN) in 2020, which is committed to delivering climate action in communities and amplifying the rural voice as part of the national policy advocacy - bringing the best from cities and the countryside together.
In 2021, Cllr Count was also asked be co-chair for the UK100 network.
Cllr Count said: “I am honoured to be asked to co-chair UK100. The vital work they do is not only good for the planet but also for the people we serve, who deserve warm homes, affordable energy, clean air, and local and seasonal food. Everyone deserves access to thriving nature and healthy landscapes, and to live in a place they can call their own. I am proud of the progress Cambridgeshire has already made towards its carbon neutral ambitions – and that our efforts have repeatedly been recognised at a national and international level. We must now drive that work forward and I am confident that with the backing of organisations like UK100 we can achieve this.”
Climate change is a long-term shift in global weather caused by greenhouse gases (GHG) stopping heat from the sun escaping the Earth’s atmosphere.
There are lots of different types of GHG, but the thing they all have in common is that they can allow sunlight to pass through, but then stop the heat from escaping back out into space - much like glass in a greenhouse, causing the planet to warm. Carbon dioxide is the most common GHG and is driving the planets warming, but others include methane and nitrous oxide.
Humans are increasing the amount of these GHGs in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, intensive agricultural practice, producing waste and changing our landscapes. This in turn increases the warming effect these gases create.
Climate change does not have the same effects everywhere. The planet is generally getting hotter, but in some regions and during some seasons it can at times be temporarily cooler. Some places will see drawn-out seasons, while others may experience concentrated bursts of extreme weather. All of these changes have their impacts on human health and wellbeing as well as on our natural environment.
For Cambridgeshire this could mean increased flooding in winter, drought in summer and heatwaves.
Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and the planet takes a while to respond. The longer that temperatures are high, the harder it is to reverse the damage.
It is now in our self-interest to act: we must reduce the impacts on our residents, shelter our services from extreme events and size the opportunity to put climate considerations into our decisions.
Our climate response is also financially important: it will cost us much less to prepare than it will to fix the damage.
Setting Targets and Commitments
We set out to understand the sources of carbon emissions from our own organisation and from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region as a whole. This evidence underpins the commitments we have made, which are outlined below.
- Reduce our organisational net carbon footprint for our buildings and transport assets by 50% by 2023 compared to 2018 levels
- All our departments to implement measures to ensure their services are adapted to climate change in line with the National Adaptation Programme recommendations, by 2030
- Deliver a net 20% increase in biodiversity (“net-gain”) across all our property, land projects and wildlife sites, by 2050
- Reduce our emissions from purchased goods and services by 50.4% by 2030
- 100% of our strategies include policies that tackle Climate Change and provide natural capital enhancement by 2023
- Sign up to a shared target with partners and the community to deliver 50.4% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 in tonnes CO2-1 per annum based on 2018 levels
- Deliver Government's net zero-carbon target for Cambridgeshire by 2050
We have further pledged that:
"All buildings owned and occupied by the council, and all car and van fleet, to be fossil-fuel free by 2025"
To achieve these targets we have developed a response encompassing climate change mitigation, adaptation and improving the natural environment.
Explore our response to climate change below
For more information about Climate Change, explore the links below provided by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and Environment at Imperial College London.
These are produced in collaboration with their sister institute at Grantham LSE (London School of Economics), bringing together expert knowledge on climate science, economics and politics to answer commonly asked questions on the causes and impacts of – and solutions to – climate change.
- Humans are changing the planet's climate and causing the global average temperature to rise.
- How to scientists know this is happening and what exactly causes it?
- How is the climate changes, and what does this mean for humans, plants and natural ecosystems?
- The world's countries have all signed up to the Paris Agreement.
- What does this actually mean, and are we on track to meet its goals?
- Why is it urgent to act on climate change now?
- What is a 'net-zero' emissions target?
- Climate action is an opportunity to create a new, green economy.
- What economic benefits and costs does it bring?
- Does tackling climate change stop countries developing?
- What is a 'just transition'?
- Why do people talk about an 'ethical obligation' to act on climate change?