News release from 03/12/2018

“Climate emergency” as Council aims to make South Cambridgeshire zero carbon

“Climate emergency” as Council aims to make South Cambridgeshire zero carbon

Days after the Met Office warned of significant temperature rises in the decades ahead, South Cambridgeshire District Council has pledged to support an ambitious target of cutting local carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The UK Climate Projections 2018 study says that, under a scenario with the highest emissions, summer temperatures could be up to around 5C hotter by 2070. Even under a scenario with lower emissions, the report says the UK will still see higher average yearly temperatures.

At a full Council meeting last week (Thursday 29 November 2018) members of all parties at South Cambridgeshire District Council unanimously backed a motion proposing that “South Cambs shows responsible climate leadership by supporting the transition to zero carbon by 2050 in the next Local Plan.”

As a result, South Cambridgeshire’s next Local Plan will consider how new homes, jobs and services will support that commitment to making South Cambridgeshire Carbon-neutral by 2050. This will be a joint local plan with Cambridge City Council, which is aiming to make Cambridge zero carbon by the same date. It will look at ways South Cambridgeshire District Council can press for a carbon-free area through the design of homes and other buildings, land use including open space, transport links, energy supplies and waste and recycling services.

The Council’s new pledge is more ambitious than the Government’s national target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

The motion was put forward by the Chair of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, Cllr Pippa Heylings (pictured - above), who said: “There is no doubt about it – we are facing a climate emergency and have limited time to act. We’re already feeling the effects of climate change in the UK through the increased frequency and intensity of storms, flooding and heatwaves which are putting extra strains on our services including hospitals. We’re also experiencing growing problems with water scarcity and air pollution. I’m so pleased my fellow Councillors backed my motion because, as a local planning authority, we have the power to influence others to make South Cambridgeshire carbon neutral by 2050. Planning has a significant role to play here, not just through how homes and buildings are designed and constructed, but also by ensuring new development is in places where it is or can be well served by low carbon transport links like public transport, cycling and walking. Planning can also help ensure we make the best use of the many natural assets the area has to offer. We live in one of the fastest growing areas of the UK and so must find ways to reduce carbon emissions associated with new development.”

The motion was seconded by the District Council's member for Whittlesford, Cllr Peter Topping.

The Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Bridget Smith (pictured - above), added: “We are determined to put the environment at the centre of everything we do. The national and international headlines about the impacts of climate change at the start of last week are a stark reminder that we have a responsibility to act, and as a local planning authority we are in the unique position of being able to work with residents, businesses and developers and take the lead in this critical area. We will be green to the core in everything that we do, and I’m delighted that we have made this pledge, which will have a legacy for decades to come.”

The UK Climate Projections 2018 report can be read here.

The full text of the motion can be read in the agenda for the full Council meeting, which is available here.