Tackling Climate Change in Cambridgeshire

Tackling Climate Change in Cambridgeshire is a report (pdf) for Cambridge County Council. Its interesting to see stuff coming down to our local level. But is it any good? Surprisingly, yes: at least on the words. They also have long lists of actions but I rather suspect that the cumulative total might be small.

(BTW, I've abandoned the "more" stuff... it was too annoying).

Point number 1, they get the science pretty well right (The average global surface temperature has increased by about 0.6°C in the last 100 years, and there is strong evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years has been caused by man. This is mainly because of the release of greenhouse gases leading to an ‘enhanced’ greenhouse effect. The gases accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for many years, driving climate change. Scientists think that if we do not limit the release of these gases, temperatures around the world could rise by between 2° and 6°C by 2100). Perhaps this isn't too surprising - septics have got nowhere in UK climate science or govt science policy making, or even in general policy making (see my prev analysis here). They are only present by default in that the UK govt action doesn't really measure up to the words.

Point number 2, they tell you where Cambridgeshires CO2 comes from, via an analysis by CERC (who?). And the answer is, as of 2002: electricity 32%; waste 16%; transport 16%; manufacturing and construction 12%; residential 10%; industrial 6%; agriculture 5%; commercial/institutional 3%. This isn't quite as useful as it could be, because presumably the "electricity" term would be better split up amongst the various classes of users. In fact... is this data presented as you would want it? Shouldn't it be split amongst the user classes (residential/ind/ag/manuf/commerce) and then the three "creation" classes waste/elec/transp (with heating and lighting then needing to be extra classes). Anyway, we end up with 15 tonnes/person/year.

So what about the action bit? They have decided to adopt the "ambitious" target of 20% less than 1997, by 2010, which is the same as the national targe, which... err... we're not going to make. They also promise to "work towards" a 60% reduction target. Hmm. The council is going to do things to its own energy usage. It buys a lot of its electricity (80%) from renewable suppliers. It designs in energy efficiency into new buildings. It runs some vehicles on LPG (which is says is both cheaper and produces 20% less CO2). It makes efforts to avoid its staff having to drive (though moving its HQ out to Cambourne didn't help me: I used to cycle when it was in Cambridge, now I must drive. To be fair, now I think of it, it was South cambs that moved, not the County, which is still inside Cambridge). And much more, if you read the report. But... there isn't a lot to say quite how this is going to get them to their county-wide 20%-less-by-2010 target. Which is only 5 years away.

Theres also a section on "adaption", where again they get the science right, in that they notice that even present levels commit us to more climate change in the future.

So... all in all quite good words, time will tell for the action.


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