A vital new focus comes into play as Cumbria pushes forward an ambitious carbon-zero target 13-years ahead of government goals.
Major players in the county’s tourism, hospitality and food and drink industry are being urged to link with a pioneering business initiative as part of the £14 million carbon-cutting Eco-I North West project.
Leading the county’s drive in the planet-protecting research and development partnership of six regional universities, University of Cumbria has a new Carbon Innovation Fellow tasked with bringing transformation, support and results across widespread sectors.
Dr Laura Giles said she was bringing academic insight into ‘real-life questions’ about cutting greenhouse gas emissions on Cumbria’s net-zero journey.
She explained: “We have resources and expertise to match the great ideas and enthusiasm to make a difference with dedicated researchers who can and will progress aims and aspirations.
“We know there’s huge willingness among tourism, hospitality and food and drink providers to do the right thing for the environment. They are often on the frontline when it comes to experiencing consumption and waste, and want to protect our wealth of natural resources.
“Although we want to help all small and medium-sized businesses, we are particularly keen to target these sectors as there is a readiness and need to make a difference.
“Of course, we are mindful of the challenges. People want to buy locally but can’t always justify the extra expense. A large percentage of our emissions are from road transport. We want to see residents, tourists and goods moving around in a greener, more efficient way.”
Dr Giles said it was vital to reduce emissions from travel, food consumption and other goods.
She added: “We’re in this together and have to cut down on miles travelled, waste that costs to be taken away, and embrace recycling, packaging reductions and green measures that can transform all our lives.
“Eco-innovation doesn’t mean less income; it means reducing costs to increase profit.
“Climate change threats to our wellbeing and way of life are much greater than those posed by Covid. They are longer-lived and affect everybody. We are part of the natural environment and should be working to look after it.”
Penrith-based Dr Giles, an outdoors enthusiast, countryside fan and nature lover, is calling on hoteliers, the food and drink industry, hospitality providers and the visitor sector to make the most of Eco-I NW’s free research ‘to turn great green ideas into reality’.
The project is hosting a series of online and virtual events without charge. Check them out on www.cumbria.ac.uk/media/university-of-cumbria-website/content-assets/public/Eco-I_North_West_Low_Carbon_Events_Programme_C.pdf
Bookings for 'Creating low carbon products and services' on January 21 on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creating-low-carbon-products-and-services-registration-180812403767