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GREENZINE: Issue 01 of the new online green publication for Cambridge, (started up by the Zero Carbon Society) offering local environment news and debate, is online already, and Issue 02 will be out on the 31st January. Deadline for submissions for Issue 02 is the 30th January latest – we would love any articles on issues that interest, or rather, concern you, things you want to say, or news about local events/groups. Check it out at: If you’re keen, please repost and retweet:

Food for Thought Lent 2013 Termcard

….is now available!

Here it is in pdf format: Food for Thought Lent 2013 Term-card

Here it is without the formatting for those who want a quick glance:

Week 1 – 23rd Jan: ‘Biofuels, indirect land use change and greenhouse gas emissions: A perfect storm of incomplete science and irresolvable politics?’ – James Palmer, PhD Student, Department of Geography

Week 2 – 30th Jan: ‘The Eating Local Challenge: Thinking about the contribution food makes to climate change’– Helen Karapandzic, Cambridge Carbon Footprint

Week 3 – 6th Feb: ‘Thinker-doers: Adding value in a climate crisis’ – Gracen Johnson, MPhil Student, Land Economy Faculty

Week 4 – 13th Feb: Is black the new green? The potential role of biochar in climate change mitigation’ – Laura Plant, MPhil Student, Land Economy

Week 5 – 20th Feb: Translating knowledge about climate change into policy: Lessons from the use of climate science in biodiversity conservation policy in England’ – David Christian Rose, PhD Student, Department of Geography

Week 6 – 27th Feb: ‘Agricultural adaptation and crop diversity: How developing countries can adjust to climate change’ – Stella Nordhagen, PhD Student, Department of Land Economy

Week 7 – 6th Mar: ‘Mitigating the effects of methane and manure: A small insight into reducing emissions in UK agriculture’ – Emily Scott, MPhil, Land Economy

Food for Thought Michaelmas 2012 powerpoints

Hey everyone,

See the Food for Thought” page for the full summary and powerpoint links, but this is just a quick alert that the powerpoints are now all up on the website, very kindly donated to us by the speakers.

Soren Lindner: The Gigatonne Gap in China’s Carbon Dioxide Inventories. – The Gigatonne Gap_Soren Lindner

Denis Garber: Shallow Geothermal Systems for Space Heating and Cooling. – Food for Thought_Denis Garber

Uven Chong: The Air Quality and Climate Tradeoffs in Road Transportation. – Road Transportation_Uven Chong

Marta de Olazabal: Transitions to Climate Change Resilient Cities. – Zero Carbon_MOLazabal

Aiora Zabala: Ecosystem Services & Sustainable Land Use Practices in Social-Ecological Systems. – zabala_zerocarbon

David Turner & Jon Coello: Carbon Footprinting – Measuring the invisible. – Carbon_Footprinting_Measuring_the_invisible

Emma Cross: Ocean Acidification – Emma Cross Zero Carbon Talk Ocean Acidification

Food for Thought will be returning for Lent 2013 – we’re just in the process of finalising the programme, so watch this space…

Food for Thought 07/11/12 – further info links


Many thanks to Marta Olazabal for such an informative and thought-provoking talk today!

For those of you who wanted to read further, the links are:

More info: (you can sign up to the mailing list here)


See you next week!


The Zero Carbon Society are recruiting committee members!

Join the Zero Carbon committee!

Want to get more involved in the society? We are recruiting two new committee members!
– Speaker series co-ordinator: As one of two co-ordinators, this involves planning and over-seeing our weekly talk and discussion group ‘Food for Thought.’ What do you think needs to be talked and thought about? See your ideas come to fruition with a series for Lent Term 2013.
– Campaigns co-ordinator: Does running a university-wide campaign in Lent 2013 appeal to you? We have had the idea that vegetarianism might be a good direction to go in (Be Vegetarian for Lent (term)?) – but what do you think?

Both positions also allow you to be involved in directing other areas of societal activity – development of GreenZine, attending local events eg. meeting with Julian Huppert MP last week, working on a green internship network and involvement with the University’s Living Labs Project, engagement with the university policy campaign group Energise Cambridge.

To apply, email by Wednesday 14th November with the following information:

*Who you are: name, college, subject

*What role you are applying for and why you think you’d do a good job.

Food for Thought Review: The Gigatonne Gap in China’s CO2 Inventories.

Food for Thought Review: The Gigatonne Gap in China’s CO2 Inventories.
by Mya Goschalk

‘Food for Thought’ is a weekly discussion group led by PhD students, the first of which was Soren Lindner who wrote an influential research paper on the gap between China’s officially stated CO2 emissions, and the reality. They came to the conclusion that China released 1.4 gigatonnes of CO2 emission higher than officially stated by the government, which amounts to 5% of global output. When prompted to make a press statement on these findings, the Chinese climate minister suggested that we should to look at historic accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere from industrialised nations such as the UK.

This ‘gap’ in the data has been explained by problems in methods of collection by the Chinese government. The national bureau of statistics develops surveys for households and industries which is then conducted by the local authorities in thirty provinces. The report found that the biggest gap is from misreporting in raw oil consumption, and that yearly data shows this gap getting bigger since 1997. Soeren put forward two main reasons for this discrepancy. The first is the fact that in the last ten years the big industries came together to form industrial parks whilst the smaller firms relocated to less developed provinces which lack some of the institutional resources to record correctly. The second main reason is that there is competition between the provinces as they are competing for growth. Each province over-reports regional GDP, which in order to fit the data means that energy data also needs to be over-reported. In contrast, national data is under-reported in order to please the international community.

What becomes increasingly important now, are the implications of this ‘gap.’ Firstly, within China there is a plan for an emission trading scheme between provinces, but in order for this to be established there must be reliable data. Secondly, for countries in the West this has a large effect on trying to calculate their own carbon footprints when taking imports into account, as the data on the production side will be incorrect. And finally, arguably most importantly, is the effect that these huge uncertainties will have on climate models.

It is clear that what must be done now is to look for solutions to avoid these discrepencies, and make it increasingly aware that this type of CO2 ‘gap’ may also be occurring in other countries.

Food for Thought Week 2’s topic will be ‘Shallow Geothermal Systems for Space Heating and Cooling’ – Denis Garber, PhD Student, Energy Efficient Cities Initiative. Wednesday 17th October, Wordsworth Room, St. John’s, 1pm-2pm. The talk will start at about 1:10 so don’t worry if you’re a little late. Bring your lunch and munch as you listen, then we’ll have a relaxed discussion/Q&A session. We hope to see you there!

Food for Thought Week 1

Don’t miss Food for Thought (our lunchtime lecture and discussion group), which kicks off this Wednesday – the topic for this week is ‘The Gigatonne Gap in China’s Carbon Dioxide Inventories’ – Soren Linder, PhD Student, Dept. of Land Economy.

Wordsworth Room, St. John’s, 1pm-2pm. The talk will start at about 1:10 so don’t worry if you’re a little late. Bring your lunch and munch as you listen, then we’ll have a relaxed discussion/Q&A session. See you there!

**Freshers’ Squash 2012**

This week, make sure to come along to our *FRESHERS SQUASH* which will be held on Saturday (6th October) at 1-2pm in the Dirac Room (which is in the Fischer Building) at St. John’s College. We will be presenting our activities and plans in more detail, and would like to find out what you want to see happen and what you want to get involved with. We really hope to see you there for the launch of an exciting year!

Freshers’ Fair Information (but not just for freshers!) – This Year’s Plans

Here’s the main bits you need to know about this year’s plans (I stress the ‘plans’ part, as we also want your ideas and involvement to shape what happens).

Freshers’ Fair Info

Remember that the Freshers’ Squash will be held this Saturday (6th October) at 1-2pm in the Dirac Room (which is in the Fischer Building at St. John’s College). The idea is that you can get a feel for the society, and how you can get involved in a way that suits you. I look forward to seeing you there! Grace (current president 🙂 ).

PS. If you can’t make it to the squash – don’t worry! Drop me a line at and I’ll give you a rundown of what happened and what you can do next!

The Cambridge Summer Programme in International Energy Policy and Climate Change Risk Assessment

The Cambridge Summer Programme in International Energy Policy and Climate Change Risk Assessment is run by the Institute for the Environment of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States in collaboration with the E3 Foundation and Cambridge Science and Policy Consulting.

Through tutorials on energy, sustainability, risk, decisions and community design, and a set of team-based projects chosen by the students in collaboration with programme sponsors, students learn about ways to bring sustainability, carbon dioxide reduction practices and climate change resilience to individuals, institutions, communities and nations, using the City of Cambridge and the UK as the core examples but with principles that can be applied world-wide.

From start to finish, the entire programme lasts 5 weeks, usually beginning in the first week of July. This year a group of undergraduate students from various academic years and disciplines from the University of Cambridge attended the programme. The places were generously granted by Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown to the Zero Carbon Society, who duly advertised the opportunity.

Here is what two attendees said about their experience:

Katherine Howell, 2nd year, Geography at St. Catharine’s:
I felt the programme was a really constructive use of five weeks – part
course, part research project. The classes raised questions, approaches and
concepts that lie outside my subject but are really important to climate
change mitigation – like Doug’s mantra ‘run the numbers’. Working with the
UNC students and students from a huge range of disciplines definitely
helped broaden perspective too. The project involved producing, in a small
group, a package for Cambridge City Council including a literature review
and recommendations for a guidance for retrofits in conservation areas.
This was particularly rewarding, knowing that our work will feed into
something concrete, practical and exciting. This should be a good CV-boost
as it ties in both with academic research and environmental consultancy.

Charlotte Rogers-Washington, 1st year, Geography at Girton
Applying for this summer programme was a very last minute decision for me
but I am extremely glad I had the opportunity to be involved in such a
programme. The specific project that I worked on was titled ‘You-Gov
Incentives Survey’. The main aim was to help You-Gov create questions for a
survey that would find out what incentives residents (occupant owners,
landlords, tennants etc) needed in order for them to retrofit their homes
or properties. This process took the form of email correspondence and a
conference call. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, during the course
of the summer programme we only managed to create a draft for the survey
although we will hopefully continue to stay in contact with You-Gov.
However, my group did run our draft survey independently from You-Gov to
give ourselves an idea of how the questions we created would be recieved
and of the sorts of answers we could expect.

This programme was a very positive experience. It was mostly self motivated
and as we were in direct contact with official and respected organisations
it felt very much like a real world experience. It has made me realise I
definitely want to do something environmental in the future and it helped
me create potentially valuable connections with You-Gov Cambridge.

More information about the programme can be found at:

Keep in touch with the Society to hear about more great opportunities like this one!