Cumbria has set itself an ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2037, 13 years ahead of the 2050 government target.
Leading the county drive as part of a £14 million groundbreaking business initiative is University of Cumbria’s Mike Siddall, who says the carbon-cutting Eco-I North West project has the potential for ‘massive impact’.
The new research and development partnership of six universities is rolling out a far-reaching programme to push eco-innovation across the region.
Companies will be supported by high-level degree students, supervised by world-class academics, with access to laboratories, equipment and expertise on a scale never before seen.
Running to 2023, the aim is to work with a wide range of small and medium sized enterprises to stimulate growth and cut carbon (CO2e) emissions by 3,850 tonnes, with a significant slice from Cumbria.
Project manager, Mr Siddall, said the CO2e saving represented a ‘considerable figure’ and that the county was well placed to meet the challenges and unique opportunities now at its disposal.
He explained: “The sheer size of Cumbria, along with its fantastically dedicated population, has led to great diversity in business and industry. Our cutting-edge technology and far-reaching concepts hold a place in international markets.
“Staunch workforces and committed leaders are already proactive in cross-sector networks and partnerships when it comes to problem-solving and overcoming challenges.
“But now, along with the rest of the planet, we face one of the biggest obstacles humanity has ever encountered – how to make fundamental changes to the way we operate and behave to reduce the impact of climate change.
“With our natural resources, forward-thinking companies and ambitious targets, Cumbria is well positioned to lead the way in a green revolution as it transitions towards zero carbon.”
Partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund, high-level support is available from PhD, masters and undergraduate researchers. The offer includes long and short-term academic support to address specific business challenges.
Mr Siddall added: “We are determined the impact will live on long after the project finishes and make a major contribution to hitting ambitious global targets.”
Eco-I NW has already been in discussion with a number of Cumbrian companies, including those working in tourism, media, manufacturing and direct sales.
Matching innovation and challenge with academic expertise from the six participating universities, the project is led by demand and a collaborative approach to problem solving.
Mr Siddall said: “We already have a significant number of carbon-conscious businesses who want to develop and grow in a sustainable way. Eco-I NW can help with an injection of the knowledge needed to drive forward their green ideals.”
Eco-I NW is on offer to businesses across the region. It is delivered by a consortium of the following six universities: Cumbria, Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Met.