Organizer: Jamila Haider
In the UK, a Pyramid workshop was run during the Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Forum, with a diverse group that included students, faculty members and community members from a nearby town.
The central challenge: making Cambridge carbon neutral. As described by the participants, the main question here is whether the benefits that stem from promoting sustainability ideas off-set the carbon emissions that come along with it, an issue that they named “brain-print”. A leading research institution, Cambridge surely contributes to fostering knowledge on a whole range of topics, but its activities also revolve around a carbon-intense conference industry, a paper-heavy culture, tourism and, generally, a lot of international business and personal travel.
Many ways to tackle this were proposed, among which:
- organizing more video conferences
- dividing the university budget into a financial budget and a carbon budget
- reporting carbon footprint in a transparent manner
- setting a reward system for colleges with lower emissions
- encouraging policy changes so that not only the cheapest travel options would be reimbursed etc.
The current situation was perpetuated by the fact that the university is decentralized, with highly specialized faculties and little opportunities for integrative policies. Hence, the general agreement was that the first step towards starting a dialogue for change was to improve carbon literacy across the university:
“Proposed follow-up activities included brining up this concern with teaching committees as a opposed to just individual lecturers in order to influence more systemic change. This was an important decision from a faculty member. Among students, they agreed to continue promoting carbon literacy through extracurricular events”, the group reports.
We do hope that you will succeed in taking this further and that Cambridge University will inspire many other institutions to reduce their carbon emissions… someday, all the way down to zero!