Environment Group

Coordinator: Elizabeth May
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 Elizabeth May 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.




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.

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.

Upcoming events

Transition Cambridge: transitioncambridge@gmail.com

Booking is now open for our new workshop “Coping with the Climate Crisis“, with Ro Randall and Daniella Fernandez-Catherall of Cambridge Climate Therapists. It’s on Thursday 1 July – it’s still online, and it’s free, by donation – book here. We’re also looking forward to our summer picnic on 4 July (in person) – a chance to meet up and catch up, we hope you can come! Also coming up this week is Cambridge Doughnut Economics Action Group’s “Biomimicry workshop” looking at how nature supports us in Cambridge, how we can support nature, and what we can learn from nature (interesting website here). Also there are various volunteer opportunities coming up within Transition Cambridge, including helping with some family-friendly art workshops, writing for our blog and fixing a fence at one of our community gardens – please get in touch for more info if any of these appeal!

* Thursday 10 June: Biomimicry workshop with Cambridge Doughnut Economics Action Group
* Monday 21 June: Healthy Eating: Why is it so hard?
* Thursday 01 July: Coping with the Climate Crisis – an online workshop
* Sunday 04 July: Transition Cambridge Summer Picnic

Latest on our blog

Join Cambridge Doughnut for a workshop exploring how Cambridge can thrive in its natural environment. This workshop is part of our plan to create a city portrait to find out how Cambridge is performing according to both planetary and social boundaries. We will investigate two questions: what ecosystem services does the nature surrounding Cambridge provide? How can the city of Cambridge provide these services? We will concentrate on tree cover, chalk rivers, and fenland, looking for inspiration through biomimicry More details here.

From: CamDEAG

Monday 21 June: Healthy Eating for ourselves and the planet: Why is it so hard?

18:30-19:30, online

What makes it so hard for us to change our eating habits? Is will-power the answer or do genes play a part? Are governments responsible? What about the way food is marketed? Should unhealthy food cost more? Find out from leading experts in behavioural psychology, genetics and public policy including Dr Giles Yeo and Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, who will discuss their own research and answer your questions. More details here.

From: University of Cambridge, Annual Food Agenda/Global Food Security

Thursday 01 July: Coping with the Climate Crisis – an online workshop

19:30-21:30, Online via zoom – book via Eventbrite

A workshop With Ro Randall and Daniela Fernandez-Catherall of Cambridge Climate Therapists. This interactive zoom workshop will explore the anxiety, distress and despair many people feel when confronted with the climate crisis. We’ll offer you some frameworks for understanding and moving through the painful feelings, an opportunity to share your own experiences and guidance on the best ways to cope. Book here. Ro Randall is a psychotherapist who has written widely on the psychology of climate change. Her videos on Coping with the Climate Crisis can be found at Resources – Cambridge Climate Therapists. Dr. Daniela Fernandez-Catherall is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist (BPS) with particular interests in collective narrative practices and community psychology. She is currently working on the development of community practices to support people experiencing difficulties related to the climate crisis. More details here.

From: Cambridge Climate Therapists, supported by Transition Cambridge

Sunday 04 July: Transition Cambridge Summer Picnic

12:30-14:30, Empty Common Community Garden, at the end of the allotments off Brooklands Avenue

We hope to be able to have our traditional Transition summer picnic in July, to celebrate all we’ve achieved over the last year, and to celebrate finally being able to meet in person! (This is assuming all goes well with lockdown easing – check the TC website for last minute updates.) Please bring food and drink (it’s maybe best if we don’t share until covid is a distant memeory), and picnic blankets, and let’s hope for good weather!

From: Transition Cambridge

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

Natural Cambridgeshire Partnership Forum

The next meeting of the Forum, by zoom in the morning of Tuesday 15 June, will focus on climate change and on biodiversity. The draft agenda is attached. Registration details will follow.

In a landmark speech on 18 May the Environment Secretary announced action plans for legally-binding targets for species population (including the creation of s species introduction task force), to treble tree planting and to restore peat, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/environment-secretary-speech-at-delamere-forest-on-restoring-nature-and-building-back-greener

Natural England is offering funding to restore English peatlands, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nature-for-climate-peatland-grant-scheme
And the government has published a peat action plan, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987859/england-peat-action-plan.pdf

You are invited to plant a tree to help mark the Queen’s Jubillee. Schools and community groups may apply for free saplings from the Woodland Trust, https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/schools-and-communities/
OAnd the governemnt has published a trees action plan, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987432/england-trees-action-plan.pdf

New Scientist of 15 May says nitrogen pollution is one of the most dire crises we face. According to the Soil Association, nitrous oxide stays in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years and is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, https://www.soilassociation.org/causes-campaigns/fixing-nitrogen-the-challenge-for-climate-nature-and-health/the-impacts-of-nitrogen-pollution/

Permafrost buried beneath the Arctic Ocean is said to hold 60 billion tons of methane and 560 billion tons of organic carbon — making it a major source of greenhouse gases not currently included in climate projections, https://e360.yale.edu/digest/submarine-permafrost-has-been-overlooked-as-a-major-source-of-greenhouse-gases-scientists-warn
And new gas emission craters in the arctic permafrost continue to be discovered, https://www.woodwellclimate.org/new-study-reveals-formation-of-new-gas-emissions-craters-in-the-arctic/

The agreement between the parties which are taking control of the County Council says “We will put climate change and biodiversity at the heart of the Council’s work and at the heart of its land management strategy”, https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/cambridgelibdems/pages/5179/attachments/original/1620984611/County_agreement_2021_FINAL.pdf?1620984611

You are invited to participate in an ecological research project that explores residents’ experience, knowledge and attitudes about nature in the Fens, https://imperial.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0BXUeK9AN9Xei9M
And to a webinar describing a business model to support Local Authorities to make the business case for investing in Green Infrastructure projects, https://events.lefmarketing.com/nature-smart-cities-webinar

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/

Climate Change: Ade on the frontline. 

Sunday nights on BBC2 and available 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.


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

You can register for any of the following events at Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

How to fight the climate crisis with Naomi Klein and Elizabeth Wathuti, Thursday, June 27, 2021.

A Green Guide to Low-Waste Living Wed, 23 Jun 2021 13:00 BST

Anthropologie invite Sunny Jar Eco Hub to lead a session on sustainable living. The workshop will provide attendees with simple hacks for low waste living and demo how to make fruit peel tea and coffee scrub from commonly discarded ingredients.

SAN virtual Gathering account for action on the climate crisis. Wed. June 23,2021. 11:00-12:00am

Anxiety to Action: understanding the climate crisis. Monday July 19,2021. 18:30-20:30

Climate Action Film Festival, Friday June 25, 2021

Climate Action 2021: Responsible Consumption and Production. Thursday July 8, 2021. 11:00-12:15

Ecocide <https://bbc.com/future>

Costing the Earth. BBC  Sounds

Climate: World at Risk of Hitting Temperature Limit soon by David Shukman. bbc.co.uk/News/Science & Environment

The Climate: The Landscape: The Future – The Great Fen response to a changing climate – online talk.

Thurs 17 June, 7pm
Join Brian Eversham, CEO Wildlife Trust BCN, and Kate Carver, Great Fen Project Manager, for an informative online talk discussing climate change and how the Great Fen is responding. There will also be a chance for you to pose your questions to Brian and Kate at the end of the talk. Book your tickets


Camcycle monthly meeting: Try Before You Buy 

Tues 6 July, 7pm
All are welcome to the Camcycle meetings start which start at 7pm on Facebook and are followed by a social get-together on Jitsi Meet. This month Camcycle will hear from Mark Searle from Outspoken Cycles about their try-before-you-buy cargo bike scheme for businesses and families in Cambridge. Watch live on the Camcycle Facebook page.