It’s been one whole year since the Zero Carbon Cumbria project first set sail, and we thought it would be worth taking a quick look back at what’s been achieved over the past 12 months.

Firstly, for those new to the project, the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership (ZCCP to their friends) is a partnership of 80 organisations from across Cumbria and different sectors of society. Their aim is to drive Cumbria to becoming the first county with net-zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2037. On behalf of ZCCP, CAfS helped to secure a generous grant of £2.5 million from the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund to help develop the partnership and deliver a range of community-led projects.


The first order of business was to recruit the people who would run the project.  This included community action officers for Penrith Action for Community Transition (PACT), Sustainable Carlisle and Art Gene, as well staff based at CAfS itself and some of the other partners. We welcomed Hazel, Helen, Nigel, Ceri, Angie and John to the ZCCP team alongside increased support from our growing marketing and admin teams as well as our chief executive Karen. The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) host David and Cumbria County Council host Tim and Natalie.

This veritable army of folks has been developing the partnership since its kickoff. It is now co-chaired by Karen and Angela Jones and supported by Tim.

Next up, we had to start thinking about how to let people know about the partnership and the work being undertaken through the Lottery funded project. A communications strategy was drawn up and a number of sector groups were established to focus on specific issues such as housing and waste.


Like many things, ZCCP was initially restrained by the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the activities the team could be involved in. Through the second half 2021 however, a lot of community led delivery was carried out by the group. A lot of this action was centred on Great Big Green Week in September and COP26 in November and was carried out by Sustainable Carlisle, PACT, Art Gene and a huge number of people and community groups across the county.  The CAfS based staff met up with a team of film makers in Burneside in October as part of a COP26 tour, an event that featured on BBC Radio Cumbria and ITV Border news.

The Carbon Literacy arm of ZCCP has been an outstanding success. New courses designed to inform keen individuals of the latest science around climate change have been developed and delivered to hundreds of people around Cumbria. These people have ranged from private interested citizens to councillors in local government. Every course has received incredible feedback and we’re delighted to see the evidence of the impact in terms of improved knowledge and influence.

The Copeland People’s Panel was established of citizens of the region to learn about climate change and recommend policy to the district council and other key stakeholders. Recommendations so far have been very well received and include the prioritisation of green jobs and training, an overhaul of the public transport system and a net-zero carbon buildings policy.

The Youth Climate Summit was attended by around 500 pupils from 15 schools. Youth representatives of the summit subsequently took the conclusions reached by the pupils and presented them to Karen and Councillor Tibble, Cumbria County Council’s policy holder for Climate Change as well as to the wider partnership.

The Vista Veg project has been unstoppable as the grower’s cooperative becomes more and more popular. The team at Vista Veg grow seasonal food and deliver to their subscribers in a responsible and sustainable manner while also delivering healthy eating courses and growing clubs with local schools.

Elsewhere in the county, Simply Repair have been undertaking research into Repair Cafés and encouraging those with broken and damaged goods to bring them to be fixed free of charge.

Alongside all of this stuff going on in the real world, the team are also hard at work developing the framework needed to monitor and evaluate the project going forward, ensuring that we’re always keeping our eyes on the target of 2037.

In short, the ZCCP team has been busy over the past 12 months. And with these early successes under their belt, it’s extremely exciting for all of us at CAfS to watch as bigger and bigger plans are made for the next few years of striving for a better, greener Cumbria.