Net Zero Cambridgeshire 2045
We Declared a Climate and Environment Emergency in May 2019. 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.
Since our declaration and first Strategy a lot has changed. We have all faced the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic, but also seen our communities galvanise in response and a renewed appreciation for access to green space.
The awareness and understanding of the risks we face from the impacts of climate change has grown. The evidence is clear. It is important that we now transition quickly away from a focus on what the change is, to a focus on the how, and how quickly we make that change happen at the scale needed to avoid catastrophic impacts.
Our new Climate and Environment Strategy 2022 provides a framework for this change and puts climate change and biodiversity at the heart of the Council’s work. It sets out how we as a Council will respond to this challenge through our focus on the above priorities and is also designed to be helpful to others seeking to collaborate and make positive change.
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 region as a whole. This evidence underpins the commitments we have made, which are outlined below.
- Net Zero Cambridgeshire by 2045: Cambridgeshire communities and businesses to decarbonise by 2045.
- The County Council will reduce its supply chain emissions (all scope 3 emissions) by 50% by 2030 from a baseline of 2018
- The County Council will reduce emissions from our buildings and fleet transport to net zero by 2030 (scope 1,2 only)
- All Council buildings and infrastructure to be resilient to climate change impacts by 2045
- To improve all biodiversity across the council’s estate by 2030.
- Understand and grow our Natural Capital account to benefit people and nature by 2025 and integrate this into the delivery of council functions by 2030.s by 2030.
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?