Ten ways Cambridge City Council and partners are taking action to tackle the climate change emergency
The campaign group Burning Pink has threatened local authorities nationwide - including Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council - with mass civil disobedience from Monday, February 15, unless they act on the climate change emergency.
Cllr Rosy Moore, executive city councillor for environment and climate change, writes for the Cambridge Independent to explain how the city council and its partners have been taking the climate emergency seriously.
Cambridge City Council was recently contacted by a new campaign group, Burning Pink, calling on the council to take a range of actions on climate change.
I wanted to take the opportunity to show how Cambridge City Council has been acting on climate change for many years and on some issues has pushed the boundaries on what is possible for a district council to achieve.
The council is committed to leading change in Cambridge so all organisations and residents can play their part in tackling the climate emergency.
We want to work with our communities to achieve more, and to influence those – including national government – who have much greater powers and resources to reduce emissions in Cambridge and across the country.
In the meantime, here are ten of the ways the council has already acted on climate change.
1. Renewable electricity
The council sources its electricity from a 100 per cent renewable tariff.
2. Low emission taxi policy
In 2018 Cambridge City Council became the first council to require all new licensed taxis to be low emission vehicles (EV or plug-in hybrid), meaning all city taxis will be zero emission capable by 2028.
3. Planning policy
Cambridge’s current Local Plan, adopted in 2018, already requires developers to meet environmental standards and to design-in sustainability, biodiversity and low-carbon living, beyond what is required in the current building regulations.
We are developing a Net Zero Carbon Study for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, looking at the policies and targets required to meet net zero carbon for new development.This work will be used to develop planning policies for the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan.
4. Water supply and chalk streams
Work is also under way on a Water Cycle Study looking at issues of both water supply and flood risk, wastewater and water quality. The report is being carried out in consultation with key partners and will inform the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan.
We have commissioned a baseline chalk stream audit report to understand the current pressures and identify practical projects for resilience and enhancements.
5. New council housing - setting ambitious energy standards
Cambridge City Council has recently adopted a revised standard that will see homes in its new 1,000 council home building programme built to Passivhaus standard where feasible.
Eight out of 10 schemes in the current 500 council homes programme are expected to attain carbon emissions of 35% below those required by building regulations.
6. Reducing the council’s carbon emissions
From 2014-15 to 2019-20 the council’s carbon emissions reduced by 28.9 per cent. The council has implemented 66 carbon reduction projects to date, and has invested £1.4 million through its dedicated Climate Change Fund.
Projects have included installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at 11 of our major buildings, LED lighting at 10 buildings, a solar thermal system at Abbey Pool, and a package of energy efficiency measures at the Guildhall.
The council has already purchased 11 electric vehicles and last year made a commitment to replace our fleet of existing vehicles with Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles when they are due for replacement.
As part of the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, Cambridge City Council was one of the first councils in the country not only to trial but purchase an electric Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV). We are intending to replace our diesel RCVs with electric versions as they need replacing and already have plans to purchase a further five.
7. Sustainable transport
To reduce congestion, improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions we need significantly more people travelling by public transport, cycling and walking and significantly fewer people travelling by car. The Greater Cambridge Partnership plans to make that happen by giving people better choices to travel sustainably, including through a comprehensive set of public transport corridors and greenways.
8. Waste and recycling
Our shared Greater Cambridge Waste Service is continuing to take action around food waste, both collection and minimisation. The waste service already offers a fortnight food waste scheme across the city and has recently rolled out a large-scale trial for weekly separate food waste collections in the north of the city.
9. Sustainable food
Cambridge City Council works with and funds local charities including Cambridge Sustainable Food to help residents and business to reduce food waste via avoidance or reuse.
10. The need for national leadership and action now
We will continue to call on government to resource climate change action adequately, and to use its legislative and regulatory powers to push change through all sectors of the economy.
Finally, I would encourage everyone to visit the Cambridge Climate Change Charter, to calculate their own carbon footprint and identify ways that they can reduce it.