Image credit: Jonathan Becker
World leaders gathering for COP26 should be a catalyst for action, boosting ambitious goals to make Cumbria carbon neutral 13-years ahead of government targets.
So says University of Cumbria’s Mike Siddall, a key adviser in the county’s drive for business sustainability and CO2 reduction, adding the high-profile Glasgow conference comes amid unique and pressing urgency.
He is a project manager for pioneering £14 million Eco-I North West, a planet-protecting research and development partnership of six regional universities, designed to push green innovation and cut 3,850 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Mr Siddall (pictured) explained: “For nearly three decades the UN has brought together almost every country on earth for these global summits. As the 26th beckons, there has to be large-scale commitments and bold reduction targets.
“Climate change has gone from a fringe issue to an international priority. It’s now a race against time and we have to act quickly. Avoiding global climate catastrophe is dependent on emissions coming down at rapid rates, with cuts spanning all sectors.
“Here in Cumbria, we are eager and willing. There is growing understanding and recognition of the impact of climate change, but the sheer scale of the challenge is too often overwhelming.
“Messages about what’s good or bad for the environment can be conflicting. However, we are all fighting the same fight and need to come together with progressive policies, along with shared techniques and technology.”
In the wake of COP26, Eco-I NW is launching a series of events in Cumbria to help businesses and organisations identify what needs to happen, find and adopt the solutions.
Aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the virtual and face-to-face programme offers a roadmap to a carbon-free future.
Mr Siddall said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the county. We have already helped a significant number by providing high-level degree students and world-class academics to work with them.
“Access to researchers and expertise is on a scale never seen before. Our events will be another vital tool in the net zero armoury. Peatbogs play an important carbon-trapping role and we are also working on pioneering restoration research.
“We need a joined-up international stance with countries and organisations moving away from operating in isolation so there’s a collective symbiotic approach.
“Hopefully, this is where COP26 will take us. We want our businesses to stop, take stock and do what it takes. In Cumbria, we know all about the effect of weather extremes. Let’s do all we can to stem them.”