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'Starting gun fired' on Region's own Climate Change strategy to eradicate emissions by 2050

3 June 2020

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The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, led by Mayor James Palmer, has today announced Baroness Brown of Cambridge as Chair of a new independent Climate Change Commission for the region, which will begin work this month.

Putting bold action at the forefront, the independent Commission will set out expert recommendations on how the area can move beyond evidence gathering to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impact.

Baroness Brown is deputy Chair of the national Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which provides independent advice to government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change.  Baroness Brown also serves as Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee and will bring expert strategic leadership to the region in alleviating climate change and helping build resilience against its impacts. 

The Commission has been set up by Mayor Palmer to create a local Climate Change strategy for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to level up work already underway to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and protect and enhance its green spaces and help meet its commitment to eradicating net carbon emissions across the area by 2050.

Baroness Brown, Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Climate Change Commission, said:

“I am delighted to be chairing this important Commission. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are well placed to play a leading role in delivery of policy both to reduce emissions and develop resilience to our changing climate. Our outstanding academics, the practical expertise of our farmers and businesses, and our community’s commitment to a sustainable future are a great basis for an ambitious plan and a practical and pragmatic implementation. I am looking forward to working with local experts and members of the wider community to develop our recommendations to ensure this area can deliver a net zero future and remain a great, green place to live and work.”

Mayor James Palmer said: 

“Today a starting gun has been fired on new action against climate change that will ensure the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can look forward to a greener future.  We recognise that in a post Covid world, our communities expect this more than ever. 

“Our new independent Climate Change Commission will be a shot in the arm for the debate on how best to reduce carbon emissions and protect our natural environment, moving us on from examining the depth of the issue to some actual tangible actions to get us there. 

“I could not think of a person more qualified to lead a review of the challenges and opportunities faced by our region due to climate change than Baroness Brown and very much welcome her strategic expertise in how we can move forward.” 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough faces a unique set of opportunities and challenges due to its diversity, which is why it makes sense to have a strategy that is locally developed.  As a global powerhouse of innovation the area is also well placed to take the lead on testing and implementing practical solutions. 

The agricultural economy, particularly in the Fens, is vital to the national economy, yet faces risks around water supply and changing weather patterns, whilst many areas are vulnerable to increased flooding. The Combined Authority provides direct support to agri-tech companies looking at new ways of farming and food production. The area is already a focus for the development of climate resistant crops, including by NIAB, the UK’s fastest growing crop science organisation headquartered on the edge of Cambridge.    

Addressing the issue of greener transport is complex with many people living in rural areas currently reliant on private cars, and our cities suffering from congestion. The Combined Authority is bringing forward an extensive system of zero carbon public transport using electric vehicles that will serve large parts of the rural and urban areas. It is also examining the local infrastructure needed for electric vehicles as government phases out existing fossil fuel engines.  

As a high growth region, there is a pressing need to ensure that all new developments are sustainable, while also ensuring the existing stock of housing is made fit for a zero-carbon future.  Already, some local communities are experimenting with low carbon power systems to take them off grid including Swaffham Prior, which is implementing a village ground source heat pump.

There is also great opportunity both for businesses and residents to benefit from leading the way in the transition.  For example by pressing ahead with improvements to digital infrastructure and broadband provision to enable more people to work from home, reducing journeys and carbon emissions.

The Commission will identify both challenges and opportunities and recommend actions and solutions on the full range of issues faced by the region due to the impact of climate change.  It will also look at how the Combined Authority’s commitment to doubling the amount of high-quality wildlife and green spaces can assist in tackling climate change and bringing other benefits.

The recommendations will be considered by the Combined Authority and its partners and will help provide an authoritative evidence base for action on reducing carbon emissions and building resilience against climate change across the region over the next 30 years.