The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has called on local residents and businesses from the West Midlands to have their say on what they feel should be done to tackle the climate emergency.
More than 40 representatives from businesses, local authorities, climate change organisations and young people joined the WMCA’s launch of the #WM2041 report today at the Birmingham office of multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, Cundall, to start a conversation on how everyone can play their part in tackling climate change in the region.
Following the WMCA’s declaration of a climate emergency last year, the document contains 74 potential actions that businesses, councils, the WMCA and residents could take to limit the impact of climate change and achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2041. These include:
- Expanding electric vehicle charging points across the region
- Developing more eco-friendly homes, including introducing a zero-carbon standard for new build homes
- Ambitious tree-planting programmes including one tree planted for each resident, and plans for a national park, building on the work of Birmingham City University
- Exploring plans to introduce LED street lighting across the region
- Ambitions to create the UK’s first Gigafactory in the West Midlands
At the same time the WMCA also launched its virtual forest – a new website that allows authorities, residents and businesses to register trees they have planted. The service allows the public to track the progress of several tree planting initiatives and see the growth of the West Midlands’ virtual forest.
Cllr Ian Courts, the WMCA portfolio holder for environment and leader of Solihull Council, said: “We need to start a conversation with all our communities across the region about how we in the West Midlands tackle the climate crisis without leaving anyone behind. Our ambition is to tackle climate change in a way that reflects and respects the heritage and the people of the region.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We know we need to take action to limit the impact of climate change and prepare for the changes we can’t prevent.
“We want to hear from as many local residents and businesses as possible over the next six weeks. We’re asking people to tell us what they think are the most important things we can all do, and how we can make these changes easier for everyone.
“Lots of people and organisations in the West Midlands have already made changes to protect our environment and want to do more. I’m looking forward to seeing contributions from residents and businesses across the region.
“It’s also crucial that we take account of this region’s long history of industry and manufacturing, and the people involved in it. We will balance our commitments to climate change with our commitments to developing a strong economy.”
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom said: “Climate change is a challenge for everyone – not just in the UK but globally. It’s great to see the WM2041 report from the West Midlands Combined Authority demonstrating real ambition to tackle the climate crisis while unlocking the potential of our green economy. This report is the start of a conversation in the West Midlands – one about how we can all do our bit to tackle climate change, and I hope it inspires others to start similar conversations across the UK.”
Avtar Purewal from the Young Combined Authority said: “We welcome the #WM2041 action plan and discussion document. The work on climate change needs to be an opportunity for people to improve their quality of life and provide a more environmentally sustainable and prosperous future for all.
“While it will be mine and future generations who will be most affected by the consequences of our actions and inactions today, we recognise it will take a cross-generational and cohesive effort to find effective solutions.”
Robert van Zyl, partner at Cundall and regional lead for Birmingham, said: “Sustainability permeates through every aspect of Cundall. Achieving net zero carbon is a huge part of that, and we are fully committed to supporting West Midlands Combined Authority as we work together with the wider community to create a low-carbon economy in the West Midlands.
“The built environment contributes to 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and we see tremendous opportunity for us as built environment specialists to help the region achieve its goal of reaching net zero carbon by no later than 2041.”
The #WM2041 report is the latest step in a long line of work the WMCA is doing to make the West Midlands a more environmentally conscious and resilient region. This includes the ‘brownfield first’ policy for new building development on derelict, industrial land; opening up railway lines closed for decades; and committing to cut out the use of single-use plastics within the organisation by 2020.
The WMCA will use the responses to the seven-week public engagement exercise to create a comprehensive climate strategy, which will be presented to the WMCA board later this year.
To have your say, visit www.wmca.org.uk/climatechange before 12 March 2020.