Our comment: Have we reached a tipping point?

So far, 2019 has shown signs that climate change is increasingly recognised as a critical issue. The UK Government has announced its intention to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and last week proposed to host the COP26 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2020, with Birmingham being one of the host cities under consideration.

To date, 94 local authorities have declared a climate emergency including Birmingham, Coventry, Herefordshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Shropshire and Wyre Forest. 61 have set target dates of 2030 and nine aim to be zero carbon by 2050. The West Midlands Combined Authority has been working with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on science-based targets and will support local authorities in their patch to develop their own. This will be discussed at the WMCA Board Meeting on 28 June and the Mayor, Andy Street, has invited representatives from the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement to attend.

This high level political commitment is a great start but it is essential that appropriate climate action is designed and effectively delivered. Arup has produced an excellent guide; ‘You’ve declared a Climate Emergency… what next?‘ which walks local authorities through the steps to effective action including:

  • senior level ownership
  • assessment of causes and impacts of climate change
  • agreeing targets, milestones and actions
  • prioritising
  • costing and business case development
  • securing investment and partners
  • implementation
  • monitoring

The one area which jumped out most to us was collaboration and the need to engage and partner with a wide range of organisations, individuals, businesses and government. This is what SWM is about and the very reason we exist.

On Tuesday we held our first members only event: our Summer Social. Over half of our members attended to meet with other members and establish useful relationships for the future. Special thanks to our members Ricoh UK Products for hosting, and Bryt Energy for exhibiting. Overall our membership is growing at an increasing rate year on year with a 30% increase in 2018-19. Our communications and networks also go from strength to strength and allow us to reach 1,000’s of individuals each month. The growth of our network base again show increasing interest in sustainability and the West Midlands truly is unique in this ‘networks of networks.’ We believe that this puts us in a strong position to work together across sectors and geographical boundaries, to achieve the best results for sustainability.

Our case studies demonstrate the way that we are working with all types of organisations to develop their response to climate change. Contact us to find out how we can help you and how you can get involved.