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Region outlines plans for climate change future

todayFebruary 7, 2021

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The West Midlands can achieve its ambitious target of becoming net zero carbon by 2041 and create thousands of new jobs if the region pulls together to tackle climate change.

Independent experts commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have outlined a draft five-year roadmap to 2026, which if adopted, will also bring significant improvements to the economy and people’s quality of life.

Conducted by independent consultants WSP, the draft plan admits that this target reduction will be tough to reach. Still, the WMCA believes it is achievable if everyone in the region – councils, businesses, government, and the public – play their part. The Plan outlines the action needed to drive a cut in carbon of around 25% by 2026. The reduction is required to keep the region on course to meet the 2041 target and accelerate green and inclusive economic recovery.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “With the publication of this Plan, we are outlining the enormous opportunity that the transition to net-zero presents for our region. Up to 92,000 jobs could be created in new green industries across all our economic sectors.

“The public, private and third sectors (such as charities and voluntary groups) will all need to work together, and we have made sure to consult them thoroughly on the creation of this Plan. I am ambitious that we can deliver the scale of change required to reach this target, and I am excited by the opportunities presented by it.”

The proposed Five Year Plan, which will go before the WMCA board on March 19, builds on the existing #WM2041 commitment and the region’s strategy for a green recovery. #WM2041 is the Programme for Implementing an Environmental Recovery, which was agreed by regional leaders last June.

The draft Five-Year Plan identifies where and how the region needs to invest in carbon-cutting projects and what new policies will be required to reach the 2041 net-zero carbon target. However, significant investment will be required, approximately £4.7bn in the first five years and £15.4bn by 2041.

The Five Year Plan builds on the projects and proposals already drawn up across the West Midlands, including:

• Retrofitting thousands of homes to make them more energy-efficient – helping to tackle fuel poverty in the process.

• A Zero Carbon Homes Charter setting out how all new homes built in the region from 2025 onwards can be ‘zero carbon ready.’

• The upgrade of the region’s bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles, including Coventry becoming an all-electric bus city by 2025 and 20 new hydrogen-powered double-deckers to run on the new Sprint route from next year.

• An ambitious tree-planting programme including one tree planted for each resident, and plans for a national park, building on Birmingham City University’s work.

Cllr Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council and WMCA portfolio lead for Energy and Environment, added: “We need to be clear about the sheer scale of this challenge, but also the significant economic opportunities it offers so that we can rise to it. This Plan shows how by working together, we can do just that.”

If approved by the WMCA Board, the Plan will continue to be updated to factor in new knowledge and policies to keep it at the forefront of technological development. The 2041 net-zero carbon target is based on work by climate research organisation the Tyndall Centre.

Written by: Aaron

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todayFebruary 7, 2021

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