Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has told a cross-sector audience of local decision makers why the West Midlands should be seen as one of the UK’s leading regions in supporting the race to net zero.
Speaking yesterday (30 June) at a virtual webinar organised by Sustainability West Midlands (SWM), the Mayor said the region was well placed to take a leadership role in environmental sustainability because it had not only set an ambitious target to be net zero by 2041 but had also put in place the first of a series of five-year plans showing how it will be achieved.
The Mayor was joined by more than 50 key businesses including Amey, Arup, Galliford Try, Grant Thornton, Hydrock, National Express, RPS Group and Veolia as well as local universities and colleges, councils and charities. He told the delegates attending A place-based approach to net-zero in the West Midlands: Benefits for our people and economy that money had already been allocated to the first five-year plan to kick-start the delivery against those targets.
The audience of representatives from businesses, local authorities, universities and charities heard how the WMCA has six priorities to get to net zero - domestic retrofit, commercial retrofit, decarbonise industry, decarbonise transport, land use and renewables, and tree planting.
The Mayor also urged diverse organisations to sign up to the WMCA’s Net Zero Business Pledge. He said: “The road to net zero will be extremely tough, and we won’t be able to achieve it unless businesses come with us on the journey.
“The pledge has been drawn up in partnership with the business community, and we welcome signatures from all organisations who want to do the right thing.”
The Mayor also used the webinar to highlight a pre-COP26 conference on July 13 that is being co-hosted by UK100 and the WMCA. He said the International Net Zero Local Leadership Conference aimed to help galvanise the powers of regions to deliver net zero.
Setting out his offer to Government for a devolved energy deal, he added: “We have a simple ask of Government - we will take responsibility for the regional carbon budget in exchange for funding to deal with those issues. We are happy to be responsible and accountable but in exchange we want more powers in the region. We want responsibility over areas like retrofitting and electric vehicle infrastructure, and that has to come through devolution.”
Also speaking at the partnership event, Luke Strickland, environment team lead at Mott MacDonald said: “It’s so important to consider how we rapidly get to net zero here in the Midlands, and collaboration is key. Because Sustainability West Midlands are at the heart of so many influential regional networks, partnering on events like these helps us all move from conversation into action. We were delighted with the engagement and insight we gained on the themes of ‘A Place Based Approach to Net Zero’.”
Councillor Ian Courts, the WMCA portfolio lead for environment and energy and Leader of Solihull Council said:
“Our region has a lot to offer and with the right support I am confident we can reach our own WM2041 target and also help lead the way for other regions.
“Our five-year plans and ambitious WM2041 target show we are ready to work in partnership and take advantage of any opportunities passed to us.”
To find out more about the Business Pledge visit https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/environment/west-midlands-net-zero-business-pledge/
To register for the International Net Zero Local Leadership Conference visit https://uk.virtualeventhosts.com/UK100-Netzero/register