30 June 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: what effects will the National Centre for Propulsion and Power have on Cambridge and the Environment?
In January the Prince of Wales came to visit the Whittle Laboratory, where the new Centre will be housed. He said, “We haven’t got time to waste. We have run out of time now to rescue this poor old planet from man-made emissions and all the complications we’re now facing, all the challenges we’re facing.”
At one level the new Centre represents what Cambridge does best, bring the leading minds to work on the most challenging problems. In facing the problems ahead we will need all the ingenuity that we can muster to work out how to live sustainably. There are enormous changes ahead and we need our best researchers to do their best work to help us to be ready. The Whittle Laboratory has already contributed to this by developing systems that achieve massive reductions in the time spent on developing technology “from years to weeks” according to Professor Rob Miller, its Director.
The Centre’s ambition is a laudable one, to drive the decarbonisation of air travel by achieving the world’s first zero carbon flight. That would be wonderful. Air travel is currently a major producer of green house gases. Electric cars and buses are already on our streets, electric aeroplanes are still in the laboratory.
There is however one very large BUT…. Given the scale of the challenge, we need at least to question whether the answer to every problem is newer and shinier technology. We should at least entertain the thought that in a sustainable future we will need to just fly less, or even not at all.
Our response was written by Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy is your Green Party parliamentary candidate for Cambridge in the event of a snap general election. He is a local campaigner and the Dean of one of Cambridge's colleges.