City's pioneering carbon cutting plan

A pioneering scheme to cut carbon emissions and stem the tide of climate change by funding local eco-projects is to be launched in Norwich today.The Norwich Carbon Trust is the brainchild of the city council which is seeking contributions from businesses and individuals to help fund local green schemes.

A pioneering scheme to cut carbon emissions and stem the tide of climate change by funding local eco-projects is to be launched in Norwich today.

The Norwich Carbon Trust is the brainchild of the city council which is seeking contributions from businesses and individuals to help fund local green schemes.

City Hall has earmarked £20,000 to get the scheme going and has approached a number of leading city businesses to take part and pledge donations of at least £10,000.

It is also thought that Norwich International Airport is keen to get on board - after resisting plans to levy its own carbon offset fund when it introduces a £3 terminal tax next month to pay for some of its expansion plans.

And the council is keen for schools in and around the city to come up with carbon cutting ideas.

Council leader Steve Morphew said the aim is to convert people's concerns about their 'carbon footprint' into a tangible contribution to help combat their individual impact. The trust will collect voluntary contributions from local people and businesses and allocate it to fund community-based carbon schemes that will help to reduce carbon consumption and encourage people lead a less polluting lifestyle.

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“There are a number of people around who are looking at ways of offsetting their carbon footprint,” he said. “It's about getting people involved rather than what we've had a lot of up to now which is hectoring and lecturing and hand-ringing. This is about getting people to contribute money so that they can do things in their own community.

“There's a limit to the number of trees you can plant,” he added. “It may be communities can come together to look at alternative heating systems or ways of using recycled materials to make things in their own communities.”

A new board chaired by Brenda Arthur, outgoing chief executive of Age Concern Norwich and former Sheriff of Norwich, will oversee the trust with the day to day administration carried out by the Norfolk Community Foundation.

While the UEA's carbon reduction project (CRed) has worked closely with the council to develop the initiative, and will help develop a procedure to calculate the carbon footprint of donors. CRed will also assess applications from local projects that could deliver carbon reductions and assess the level of carbon reduction they can achieve.

Brenda Arthur said she was keen to bring together a wideranging board dedicated to make sure the money was used effectively.

“The idea of being able to reduce the carbon footprint while at the same time to root that in communities and particularly schools is a good one and I'm delighted to take part,” she said.

But critics said that the project did not go far enough and was more about easing consciences rather than promoting a fundamental change in lifestyles.

Adrian Ramsay, Green group convenor, said he feared the initiative would distract attention for firms to do more to cut emissions.

“We don't want to give the impression both to businesses and individuals that simply giving money they can continue to have a high carbon life style,” he said.