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Cambridge 'to lead world on climate change'

Cambridge could lead the way for the world in fighting the effects of climate change and in combatting pollution in city streets.

Campaigners are calling for the creation of a Cambridge Climate Commission which would help tackle pollution in the city, and inspire other cities fighting global warming.

Campaign groups The Cambridge Commons and Carbon Neutral Cambridge say a new panel of experts should be set up, helping to improve life for people in the city. They believe it would also have a knock-on effect as people around the world could take notice and follow suit.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity and the Paris agreement to tackle the threat makes it vital that cities as well as national governments take action,” said Terry Macalister, a campaigner with Cambridge Commons. “We would like to see Cambridge, with its world-leading academics and environmentally-conscious citizens, show the way for low-carbon living, innovation and lifestyle.”

Mr Macalister said many local governments across the world respected Cambridge and looked to it for inspiration in dealing with problems. He said solutions found here could spread across the globe.

He said groups could get together to think seriously about working towards a carbon-free life, with builders making more sustainable buildings, and commuters trying to adopt more environmentally-friendly ways of getting around.

Tony Eva, founder of Carbon Neutral Cambridge, said: “It is a start that Cambridge City Council has pledged that Cambridge will be a zero carbon city by 2050, but most experts agree all cities need to be much more ambitious. But we are also keenly aware that the council is limited in cash and what policy measures it can put in place.”

The campaigners are keen to see Cambridge adopt a model similar to the climate commission in Leeds, which brings together key policy makers to exchange findings and research.

Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for environmental services and city centre, said there is support for the idea, and moves are already afoot to make the project a reality.

She said: “We have set up, with the university, a climate change leaders’ group which will run along very similar lines to the Leeds climate change commission. We feel that the city council and the university and businesses in Cambridge need to get together to do what we can to combat climate change.”

Cllr Moore said Lord Deben, former secretary of state for the environment, and current chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change, had chosen Cambridge as one of the possible cities have its own climate change committee. She said any efforts to set up a climate change commission in the city would need to fit in with this.

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