Climate change the focus for new county commission

Mayor James Palmer

Mayor James Palmer - Credit: Archant

An independent commission on climate change will be established in Cambridgeshire 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.

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 chairman of the authority's overview and scrutiny committee, Lorna Dupre, asked the mayor if he would act on the recommendations of the commission.

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.

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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.

Professor Ian Leslie, Cambridge University'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."