New commission to reduce carbon emissions in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire approved

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A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough independent commission on climate change will be established to advise the county’s public authorities and businesses on how to reduce carbon emissions.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority board granted £125,000 to set up the commission at its board meeting on November 27.

A new commission to tackle climate change has been approved

A new commission to tackle climate change has been approved

The purpose of the commission will be “to provide authoritative recommendations on the options available to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to decarbonise the economy, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, in the context of the combined authority’s ambition to see rising prosperity shared across the area.”

It will consist of independent non-political members and will report to the combined authority within a year and is expected to produce an interim report by spring 2020.

The chair of the Combined Authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, Lorna Dupre, asked the mayor if he would act on the recommendations of the commission.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer said: “If you have got that evidence base it would be wise to consider making use of the advice that you have asked for”.

Asked to clarify the response after the meeting, the mayor told the local democracy reporting service “I wouldn’t be asking them to do the work if I wasn’t going to act on what they recommend” and said the county “needs this evidence base” to tackle the issue effectively.

He said the commission “will be a significant piece of work, and the results of this will run like a golden thread through everything the Combined Authority does”.

The combined authority is responsible for the county’s strategic transport plan, and so the commission’s recommendations could make a large impact on emissions.

According to the combined authority, “transport, from all modes, accounts for two-fifths of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s carbon emissions”.

It also says “since 2005, emissions have fallen by one quarter in our area while the population has grown 14 per cent, suggesting that rapid growth and successful carbon reduction can be mutually supportive”.

Professor Ian Leslie, the University of Cambridge’s lead on environmental sustainability, led the efforts for an independent commission on climate change.

He said: “I am very pleased that the creation of a climate change commission for the region of the combined authority has received such wide support. This region is distinctive — for example, in terms of agriculture, innovation and growth — and needs a tailored focus. The commission will provide this focus as well as being an independent barometer of how we in the region are meeting the challenge of the climate emergency.

“The University of Cambridge and its colleges, and I am sure all other academic institutions in the region, look forward to working with the commission.”

Leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, said a joint effort between all the county’s local authorities is “far better than us all trying to do things separately”.

And the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cllr Steve Count, said he hoped the commission would build on the findings from his own authority’s work with the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange, which produced a study in October on the county’s current CO2 emissions and provided policy suggestions on how to decarbonise.

Ben Hatton, Local Democracy Reporting Service