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West Midland firms come together to discuss net zero

Some of the West Midland’s top companies have come together to discuss how to help the region achieve its target of being net zero carbon by 2041. 

Severn Trent, Eon, BT, Birmingham Airport and National Express were among more than a dozen companies to take part in the WM2041 Five Year Plan roundtable organised by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.

The talks were staged to help shape a roadmap to 2041 identifying the priorities, challenges and opportunities of a green economic recovery post Covid-19.

The virtual event centred around the region’s plans for a sustainable recovery that not only secures economic growth but also makes the West Midlands a greener and healthier place to live and work.

The event heard how many of the companies are already taking action to help achieve net zero carbon including:

  • Severn Trent’s ambition to be net zero by 2030 and its aim to plant 1.3 million trees by 2030
  • A pledge by National Express to only buy zero emission buses going forward – the company bought its last diesel bus in 2019
  • Eon ditching all fossil fuel generated electricity in 2015 with customers now receiving renewables as standard
  • Cadent switching all its pipes to plastic to transport hydrogen while looking at hydrogen-ready boilers
  • BT has already switched to 100% renewable electricity and is looking to reduce supply chain emissions by 87% by 2030.

Companies attending the round table heard how the first Five Year Plan will build on the existing #WM2041 commitment to make the West Midlands carbon neutral by 2041 and the region’s strategy for a green recovery,  WM2041: A Programme for Implementing an Environmental Recovery released in June.

The plan, which will run from 2021 – 2026, will provide a regional carbon budget and delivery roadmap to net zero.

‘It was brilliant to hear the commitment from businesses to tackling the climate emergency, and their plans for doing so both quickly and effectively,’ said West Midlands mayor, Andy Street.

‘Whilst the WMCA has its WM2041 strategy and a commitment to reach carbon neutrality no later than 2041, this cannot be achieved without the whole region – from local authorities to individuals, small businesses to large – playing their part.

‘We have to work together to achieve a cleaner, greener, West Midlands, and I want to thank all the businesses who attended the roundtable and pledged their support.’

The roundtable will now help shape the work being carried out by the WMCA and WSP to produce the first WM2041 Five Year Plan which will be released in early 2021 and will set out the priorities and opportunities for the region including:

  • Retrofitting old and cold homes to make them more energy efficient and help tackle fuel poverty
  • Accelerating the transition of the region’s automotive industry to electric vehicles
  • Rolling out charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at scale
  • Transitioning the region’s energy infrastructure to renewables
  • Supporting the growth of green neighbourhoods and natural capital

The plan will also focus on working with the region’s businesses and education and training institutions to ensure the West Midlands has a workforce with the skills needed to exploit the opportunities of a green economy.

Companies attending the roundtable said that while there were significant financial costs involved in moving to net zero carbon there were also major paybacks for local businesses and people and that it should be seen as an investment in a better future for the region.

Economic and business opportunities discussed included the 250,000 new jobs by 2030 outlined in the government’s 10 Point Plan as well as £60bn in business opportunities for the UK by 2035.

Other opportunities for the region are expected to be generated by a rapid growth in electric vehicles. The West Midlands is already seen as a UK leader in the development of electric and autonomous vehicle research and development.

Coventry-based LEVC aims to produce up to 20,000 electric vehicles per year ahead of the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Photo Credit – Geralt (Pixabay)

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