Recommendations to fight climate change approved by combined authority

Recommendations to stop climate change have been accepted by the combined authority, but it warned that it did not have the powers to implement a number of the initiatives. Such recommendations from its Independent Commission on Climate include that all new buildings in the county are net-zero-ready by 2023 at the latest and designed for a changing climate, and that all buses, taxis and council-owned vehicles should be zero emission by 2030. It adds that bus routes subsidised or franchised by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority should be zero emission by 2025, and the authority should work to facilitate such a shift on all routes by 2030.

: Surge in non-Covid patients threatens to overwhelm Addenbrooke's One recommendation is for diesel vans and trucks to be excluded from urban centres by 2030 and local zero emission options pursued. The recommendations to address climate emissions were put to the combined authority by the commission, chaired by Baroness Brown, which was originally commissioned under the previous mayor, James Palmer.

The combined authority board voted by a majority on June 30 to approve its response to the recommendations. It said it has accepted all the 31 recommendations, six of which are for the government to respond to, and 25 of which "cover a range of measures from providing better and greener public transport, supporting homes to become more energy efficient and helping families out of fuel poverty, and investing in retraining and giving people the skills to help them find new opportunity of green jobs across the region".

'Work will now take place on how each of the recommendations might be implemented'

But while the combined authority said it accepted the recommendations, its detailed response acknowledged that in a number of policy areas the powers to implement lie elsewhere, such as with councils or the government. "By accepting the recommendations, the combined authority has agreed to take all the recommendations forward and work will now take place on how each of the recommendations might be implemented," said a spokesperson.

A report to the board said the combined authority's response "does not override the ability of local areas to determine their own targets and climate policies taking into account their specific circumstances".

It added: "The commission was clear that circumstances did differ across the combined authority area, and so might the mitigation or adaptation actions needed." The Conservative council leaders of Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdonshire have expressed concern that some of the recommendations may not be feasible to implement, that constituent councils have not formally agreed them, and that the combined authority should not accept recommendations and set expectations if it is not clear it can deliver them. Dr Nik Johnson, combined authority Labour mayor, said he was not asking councils to make commitments, but said: "Our house is on fire.

Sometimes when you are confronted by an emergency and someone won't jump from the window you just have to grab them and take them out with you and the safety net will be there for you. That is what our constituents want."

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The combined authority's response to the recommendations was approved by a majority, with one Conservative, the mayor's deputy and leader of Peterborough City Council, Wayne Fitzgerald, supporting. Mayor Johnson said "I know that it's not for the combined authority board to make commitments on others' member council's behalf", adding: "I don't believe we are asking you to do that."

'Strong leadership'

In a statement released after the meeting, he said: "I'm determined to take a strong leadership approach on this. "I will now work enthusiastically with the combined authority officers to get acting on this green print.

"This includes making the combined authority responsible for its own carbon footprint and hitting net zero carbon targets by 2030 as well as tackling measures to reduce carbon across our transport, housing and embrace the huge opportunities this will have in the green economy.

I am particularly keen to see the support and access given to those seeking to retrain or a career in the green economy."

A push for zero emission vehicles

The recommendations are:

  • All Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and council operations should be net zero by 2030
  • A complete phase-out of the use of cars running on fossil fuels by 2050 within the Combined Authority area
  • All buses and taxis operated within the Combined Authority area, and council owned and contracted vehicles, should be zero emission by 2030
  • The bus fleet on routes subsidised or franchised by the Combined Authority should be zero emission by 2025, and the authority should work to facilitate such a shift on all routes by 2030
  • Diesel vans and trucks to be excluded from urban centres by 2030 and local zero emission options pursued
  • All new buildings are net zero ready by 2023 at latest and designed for a changing climate
  • All existing buildings achieve high energy efficiency standards, and are heated from low-carbon sources