500 signatures reached
To: Cambridge University Council and the Cambridge University Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee
Cambridge University, commit to a 2030 carbon neutral target
We call on Cambridge University to declare a climate emergency and commit to a 2030 carbon neutral target.
This must be a target that includes all buildings under the operational control of Cambridge University, and one that encompasses Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions.
Why is this important?
Climate change is the most urgent ethical issue of our time. The United Nations recent IPCC report laid out the stark urgency of staying below 1.5 degrees warming to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. If the world overshoots 1.5 degrees warming there will be enormous levels of human suffering due to changes in weather patterns, dwindling resources, and increased frequencies of natural disasters. These effects will be disproportionately felt by countries in the global south and the world's poorest populations.
Each fraction of a degree is of crucial importance. 2 degrees of warming, as supposed to 1.5 degrees, would expose an additional 10 million people to impacts like coastal flooding and saltwater affecting agriculture and drinking water due to raised sea levels. It would thaw an additional estimated 1.5-2.5 million square kilometres of permafrost, releasing methane gas in a vicious cycle of warming. These effects will jeapordise the lives and livelihoods of those relying on fishing and farming, exposing an additional several hundred million people to poverty and climate related risks by 2050, and the IPCC is estimating that by 2050 the amount of displaced peoples will reach between 150-300 million. It would virtually wipe out coral reefs, see the rate of biodiversity loss double, and expand the range of insects carrying deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue.
The report also confirmed the scientific consensus that urgent, unprecedented, systemic action must be taken to phase out fossil fuels. Cambridge University has a moral obligation to take every action possible to play their part in tackling climate change. Their current target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and newly proposed target of 2040, both do not reflect the urgency of the situation. They are wholly inadequate in helping keep warming below 1.5 degrees.
Recently, councils and other institutions have been taking the lead across England in declaring a climate emergency and committing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The City of Bristol did this in November 2018, followed by the London Assembly in December 2018. The councils of Stroud, Scarborough, Forest of Dean, Oswestry, and more have done the same. Other Universities have taken action, with Universities such as Plymouth and KCL having committed to 2030 and 2025 carbon neutral targets respectively. Cambridge University too has a duty to act.
This is an emergency. We call on Cambridge University to commit to concrete radical action on climate change now.