Environment group

Coordinator: Leslie Miller-Bernal
Contact: environmentu3ac@gmail.com

In 2012, U3AC made a formal commitment to manage its environmental impacts, and in 2013 it formed an Environment group to help with this. The Environment group reports to the main Council and is responsible for promoting environmental awareness practice throughout the organisation.

The group holds meetings and seminars throughout the year.

If you would like to know more, or join the group, contact Leslie Miller-Bernal on environmentu3ac@gmail.com, or the Office.

Reports of previous workshops and seminars

Repair Cafés

Repair Cafés are community events that match people who need stuff fixed with people who like fixing things. They are completely non-commercial. There are no promises and no guarantees, but if something can be saved the repairers will give it their best efforts, and show you how to do the repair.

There is no charge but donations are gratefully received and help pay for costs such as room rental. You’ll find a friendly café at each event, serving hot drinks and delicious homemade cakes.

Your nearest Repair Café is listed on the Circular Cambridge website, where you can also book an appointment.



Books and Periodicals

Greta Thunberg: No one is too small to make a difference. Penguin 2019.
Extinction Rebellion: This is not a drill. A climate and Ecological Emergency Handbook. Penguin 2019.
Edward Platt: The Great Flood: Travels Through a Sodden Landscape. Picador 2019.
Tom Almeroth-Williams: Building a flood resilient Future (article on Cambridge University website).
Edward Barsley: Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A guide to Building a community Design. RIBA (2020).
Free download book on energy and food etc.

Carolyn Steel: Sitopia: How food can save the world. Penguin Books, 2020.

​”Whether it’s the daily decision of what to eat, or the monopoly of industrial food production, food touches every part of our world. But by forgetting its value, we have drifted into a way of life that threatens our planet and ourselves.”


Dark Waters (2019), an American legal thriller directed by Todd Haynes and written by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan. A corporate defence attorney takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution.

‘Dupont’s stock dropped when this film was released. I never knew about this deception until I saw this biopic …’ [IMDb]

U3AC takes no responsibility for the content of any external sources cited.

Radio and Television

Climate Change: Ade on the frontlineAvailable on BBC Iplayer.

’39 Ways to Save the Planet’. Is a podcast hosted by Tom Heap and can be heard on Radio4 and BBC Sounds:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds

The Climate Question, BBC World Service. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct0xbl

Floods, Fire, The Future and COP26. The Briefing Room on BBC Sounds.

Green Originals. Available on BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds

The Briefing Room, Floods, Fire, The Future and COP26. Available on BBC Sounds.

Britain’s rivers are in crisis, with only 14% in a good ecological state. Tom Heap takes a canoe trip along a waterway he knows well, the River Cam, to ask what’s going on. Listen to BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth, Canoeing the Cam. BBC Sounds

Book Reviews

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, by Bill Gates.

Reviewed by U3AC Sustainable Books Group.

Bill Gates How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (Allen Lane, 2021)

ISBN-10: 0241448301; ISBN-13: 978-0241448304

Written by the well-known technologist, business leader and billionaire philanthropist , this is a very readable book covering the major questions of how best to reduce CO2 emissions from the current 51 billion tonnes per annum to net zero. Gates suggests a range of technological innovations while not neglecting actions which individuals can do in their daily lives to reduce the problem. The chapters are illustrated with statistical examples from the USA but the issues are as relevant to the UK as elsewhere.

(SP April 2021)

Novels on climate change (taken from Front Row. BBC sounds)

Thawing Permafrost by van Huissteden, J. 2020. (ISBN: 9783030313784) : Permafrost carbon in the thawing Arctic,

In particular, the book covers the role of the large quantities of ice in many permafrost soils which are crucial to understanding carbon cycle processes.An explanation is given on how permafrost becomes loaded with ice and carbon. Gas hydrates are also introduced. Structures and processes formed by the intense freeze-thaw action in the active layer are considered (e.g. ice wedging …

Richard Powers: Bewilderment. (ISBN: 9781785152634) With its soaring descriptions of the natural world, tantalising vision of life beyond it and the ferocious love of a father for his young son, Bewilderment marks Richard Powers’ most emotionally powerful novel to date.

Jeff  VanderMeer: Hummingbird Salamander. 11 Apr 2021

a hummingbird, now thought to be extinct. The author of this message and its mystery is a well-known eco-terrorist and corporate heiress, Silvina, believed to be dead. Jane follows the clues that Silvina…

David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth.


27 Feb 2019 The book expands on a viral article, also titled The Uninhabitable Earth, which Wallace-Wells published in New York in the summer of 2017, and which frightened the life out of everyone who read it….

Children’s fiction and the climate crisis

Melt by Ele Fountain | Waterstones


A boy lives in a remote, snow-bound village with his elderly grandmother. Their traditional way of life is threatened by the changing snow and ice: it melts faster every year. When the sea-ice collapses while he is out hunting, he only just escapes with his life and is left stranded in the Arctic tundra.

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, Levi Pinfold | Waterstones


Synopsis Both absorbing animal adventure and subtle commentary on climate change and the plight of endangered species, The Last Bear revolves around April, the daughter of an Arctic researcher, and her chance encounter with a lone polar bear. There are no polar bears left on Bear Island.

The Wild Before by Piers Torday. 2021 Pushkin Press.

As climate talks ramp up ahead of the crucial COP26 meeting in Glasgow, new research on what our carbon emissions are doing to the planet paints a disturbing picture: New Scientist  04 /21.

PowerPoint presentation: A Future Hydrogen Economy? by Professor Peter Landshoff http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/pvl/hydrogen.pdf

IPCC author Tamsin Edwards: ‘Still possible to limit warming to 1.5°C’ in New Scientist Magazine, August 2021 issue.


Upcoming events

Environment Group seminar on Zoom, Thursday, 7 October, 10 to 12.30
The Glasgow International Climate Change Conference (COP26): What Can We Expect?

Two invited speakers, Dr Helen Adams—Senior Lecturer, Kings College London and Head of Scientific Engagement, COP26, in the Cabinet Office; and Dr Alison Ming—Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge University and co-coordinator of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Science, will discuss why COP26 is so important and what we hope to achieve from this international gathering in November. Seminar participants will have the opportunity to interact with the speakers.

Please notify the U3AC office of your intention to attend in order to receive the Zoom link.

We encourage all U3AC members, new and old, to attend this seminar, being held a week before term starts.

PowerPoint presentation giving  ‘Background to COP26 and outlining how this series of COPs originated and what preceded them’ click HERE

For more information about the seminar’s programme and historical background to COP26, visit our webpage: https://www.u3ac.org.uk/social/xtra-groups/environment-group/

To see the seminar programme Click HERE.

Proposal for Cambridge Nature Network launched by local Wildlife Trust

A proposal for a Cambridge Nature Network was launched earlier this month. The vision is for Cambridge to have significant areas of downland, fens, meadows and woodlands where nature can recover and thrive and to provide a systematic approach to bring about nature’s recovery in and around the City for the benefit of wildlife and those who live, work, study in and visit Cambridge. More details here.

From: Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust

Great Big Green Week in September 2021 organised by The Climate Coalition

The Great Big Green Week will take place from the 18th to 26th September, and we’re inviting communities like yours to host thousands of events and activities across the UK.

Whether it’s a concert or a community group stall, a park clean-up or a group of you getting planting in your local area – these activities will celebrate what you are doing to make your neighbourhood a cleaner, greener place to live. This will be an opportunity to raise the profile of climate change and how it is impacting the people and places we love right here in the UK and across the world.

Register online: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-the-ground-up-ii-taking-action-registration-144664839429

IMPACT Community Carbon Calculator

Recently launched by Centre for Sustainable Energy, this online online community carbon calculator gives you a visual representation of your community’s carbon footprint, helping you spot the areas where your community climate change activities can make the biggest difference. Take a look at your local village or government area and see how your emissions stack up. https://impact-tool.org.uk/

Natural Cambridgeshire

aims to deliver this vision, [of doubling nature] through the creation of extensive and accessible nature recovery areas across Cambridgeshire, designed, led and supported by residents, landowners, farmers, businesses and parish councils. These nature recovery areas will be supported by Natural England and other statutory agencies and incorporated into local policy documents including Local Plans. To support the ‘doubling nature’ ambition, we have produced this local nature recovery toolkit.

Please click HERE for Local Recovery Tool Kit organised by Natural Cambridgeshire

Litter Picking

Want to join in litter picking? Contact Cambridge City Council organiser: Caterina Dunning called Rina on sosvolunteers@cambridge.gov.uk

South Cambridgeshire contact03450 450063 or email refuse@cambs.gov.uk

Guided Tour of Logan’s Meadow Reserve, Chesterton, with Vic Smith Local Nature Reserve Ranger on Tuesday 21st September at 10.30am.

Location, parking and public travel details to be sent to registered people.

Apply to Elizabeth May (semay@live.co.uk). Bring refreshments if desired.


Reading- Book Group

Wednesday 22nd September at 2.30- 3.30 pm Join East Chesterton WI Book Club talking on Zoom about Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight behaviour. Cap on numbers so apply for place to Elizabeth May (semay@live.co.uk).


Film Group; Sir David Attenborough

Thursday 23rd September 7.30pm. “Climate Change- The Facts.” Watch at 7.30pm on BBC iPlayer: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00049b1 and then at 8.30pm join CamCity members discussing the film.  Register for place on Zoom discussion by emailing infor@camcitywi.co.uk beforehand.



Open Ecohomes month running from September 15th to October 15th with talks and tours. To enrol go to Open Eco Homes – Cambridge Carbon Footprint.



Tuesday 21st 7.30 – 8.30pm (TBC) Home ventilation choices with Vince House from Aeroco.


Thursday 23rd September 7.30 -.8.30 pm (TBC) Carbon Positive Family Home with Andy


Cambridge Climate Fair

Parker’s Piece

Sat 25th Sept from 12pm to 4pm

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/578901246617648