Town and Gown team up to create “Cambridge Carbon Map”

Cambridge, 22nd January: Today, a new project launches that will create a public map of carbon emissions for the whole of Cambridge. Dubbed the “Cambridge Carbon Map”, the initiative brings together town and University organisations to collate carbon dioxide emissions for businesses, colleges and other organisations across Cambridge. The Cambridge Carbon Map will allow anyone to compare carbon emissions for Cambridge organisations with a simple tap on their mobile phone screen.

The project is a collaboration between groups including Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency, Cambridge Climate Lecture Series and the “Big Cambridge Climate Conversation”, a new group of Cambridge residents, students and academics. The project was inspired by a similar “situation map” created by Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency.

Stefan Haselwimmer, Head of Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency, said: “Tackling the climate crisis for a city as big as Cambridge can seem an impossible task. But if we break the problem up into individual organisations – such as colleges, businesses and schools – we have a much better chance of achieving what may seem impossible. We want Cambridge to lead the way in reducing emissions nationally.”

Maintaining an overview of CO2 emissions across the city is vital to prioritising action and monitoring progress. Dr Hugh Hunt, Head of Cambridge Climate Lecture Series, explained:

“Without measured data it isn’t easy to take action to reduce CO2 emissions. The exciting thing about the Carbon Map is that it encourages organizations to measure, publish and compare their emissions in a kind-of race to zero carbon. The situation we’re faced with is so urgent that we really need to get our running shoes on!”

The “Big Cambridge Climate Change Conversation” (BC4) is a new initiative launched in December 2019 that aims to bridge the divide between the city and the University regarding climate action. BC4’s first priority is to measure the emissions of all Cambridge University colleges and departments.

Shan Tan-Ya, Head of BC4 and King’s College student, said: “This is a complicated task – each college and department has its own methods for estimating its impact, is undertaking completely different initiatives or may not have a centralised strategy at all. Nonetheless we believe it is incredibly important that we take on this challenge. That’s why we’ve got an enthusiastic team of Cambridge residents, University students and Fellows working on this together.”

Other groups collaborating on the Cambridge Carbon Map include the Trinity College Ethical and Green Affairs Society (TEGA), the Cambridge Group for Ethics in Engineering and Computer Science (GEECS) and the Leys school.

The BC4 Team are also working on technological innovations to improve the process of measuring carbon emissions, including a low-cost, automated energy meter monitor that ‘reads’ energy meters. Dr Hugh Hunt explained: “With many University colleges still using old energy meters, we have had fun developing our own ‘smart’ meters using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read the digits on the meters.  It’s like a robot that reads your meter every 10 minutes.  It’s great, not too complicated and very affordable!”

The Cambridge Carbon Map team is keen to reach out to all organisations in Cambridge, especially businesses, colleges, University departments, schools and council offices, to include their carbon emissions in the map. Interested organisations should contact the Cambridge Carbon Map team via our website

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