The University is currently the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide of all UK higher education institutions. On 31st January, representatives from Energise Cambridge submitted a policy proposal to the University’s Environmental Strategy Committee. The University is due to finalise its next energy contract in September 2013. With this in mind, the proposal states that, ‘the University’s decisions and actions over the next few years will… define its national and international place as either a leader or a laggard in the response to the global challenge [of climate change].’ The proposal continues, ‘each of us has a moral responsibility to reduce our emissions as much and as quickly as possible.’
The University has been sympathetic to environmental concerns in the past, but currently maintains that any emissions cutting measures should be cost-neutral. This new proposal contains four key recommendations: to commit to an ambitious reduction in carbon intensity, to recognise that adequate action requires investment now, to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of renewable energy options and to further student and staff awareness on such issues.
According to a spokesperson for the campaign, John Wallis, ‘The aim is to encourage the University to do more to combat climate change, to lead the way among top universities, and to inspire students to get involved. Renewable energy policy is extremely complex and we are hopeful that the University will build on our efforts to establish much more ambitious targets.’
The campaign is asking students and staff to complete an online survey in order to gauge the level of support (http://edu.surveygizmo.com/s3/770617/Energise-Cambridge). Of the 180 respondents so far, 93% agree or strongly agree that climate change is a serious threat to humanity and 90% would be prepared to pay an extra £10 per year in university fees to help fund the purchase of renewable energy.
The campaign is also organising a rally on Parker’s Piece on 10th February to show support for the policy proposal. The team plan to arrange participants in the shape of a giant wind turbine, which will be photographed from the air.
Written by Tim Middleton