Our climate has always changed in response to natural environmental processes. But it is now widely accepted that human activities are leading to climate change of a scale and pace that threatens our way of life.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. This has increased the Earth’s temperature by enhancing the greenhouse effect. As we continue burning fossil fuels and other activities, the amount of CO2 will continue to rise, further warming the climate.
If we take no action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, average global temperatures are likely to increase by between 2.6°C and 4.8°C by the end of the 21st Century. (Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comparing 2081 to 2100 with figures from 1986 to 2005.)
What might this mean for Cambridge, apart form higher average temperatures? We’re likely to experience intense and frequent extreme weather events like floods from heavy rain downpours, heatwaves and droughts. These will have a significant impact on our health, our economy and our way of life.
We’re determined to reduce the city’s carbon emissions to lessen the potential impacts of climate change on residents, businesses and visitors.
The climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015 committed to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C. It recognised the need to achieve zero net global carbon emissions by the second half of this century to achieve this.
Following this, we aspire in our Climate Change Strategy (2016-21) to achieve zero carbon status for Cambridge [PDF, 78Kb] by 2050. Find out what the council is doing to reduce its own and the city's carbon emissions. We are working on a number of different projects across the city, three of which are showcased in this film.
The climate emergency was discussed at Council on 21 February 2019.