The BEIS Secretary of State has commissioned an independent review of the Government’s approach to delivering its net zero target, to ensure delivery of net zero is done in a way that is pro-business and pro-growth. A call for evidence
closed on 27 October 2022
In providing this response to the call for evidence SWM surveyed our members
and are thankful to the following organisations for their provision of detailed feedback:
- Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
- Staffordshire County Council
- Vacuum & Atmosphere Services Ltd (VAS)
- West Midlands Fire Service
- Whistle PR
We also used our own experience of supporting national and local government, and businesses, on sustainability and net zero for over 20 years. The positions of our team on the following groups also allows us to provide an informed response:
- Member of the Midlands Engine Green Growth Board
- Member of the Midlands Net Zero Hub Board
- Member of the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands Steering Group
- Member of the WMCA Circular Economy Taskforce and Natural Environment Group
- Member of the Steering Group for the ‘Low Carbon SMEs’ ERDF Project at Aston University
- Trustee for the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust
- A recent study by SWM and kMatrix demonstrated significant growth of the Low Carbon Environmental Goods and Services (LCEGS) sector which included >4,900 businesses employing almost 93,000 people in 2019/20. The largest sub-sectors are wind, building technologies, alternative fuels, Photovoltaics (PV).
- The study showed that some sub-sectors have shown stronger growth across the three-year study period than the UK average and should be considered areas of opportunity including energy management, air pollution, alternative fuelled vehicles and contaminated land reclamation and remediation (where growth is approx. 13% compared to less than 6% across the UK).
- Low carbon or ‘Clean Tech’ is the only sector in which the WMCA geography has a higher GVA per employee than the UK.
- There are significant circular economy opportunities in many sectors (particularly mobility, advanced manufacturing and construction) building on existing competencies in materials and metals processing and the central geographical location of the region.
- Net zero helps encourage long term sustainable growth. Commercial benefits can be gained through decarbonisation, such as efficiencies in operations, and customers are increasingly requesting companies to have a decarbonisation plan.
- Creating opportunities for green technologies and innovation will provide new opportunities for employment and production, encouraging long term growth.
- Short term energy security is an issue, but the focus also needs to remain on the longer term commitment for net zero. Continuing to fund renewable energy options will long term provide better energy security than any short-term fixes or alternative gas sources.
- Energy efficient retrofit, quite apart from delivering net zero, will drive growth in good quality jobs and throughout the whole supply chain.
- The principal obstacle within the West Midlands is the uncertainty about initial investment required (CAPEX) and the consequential whole life savings or costs (OPEX). Secondary obstacles are the availability of affordable materials and technologies to implement decarbonisation. Underpinning both obstacles is the uncertainty of knowing the best way forward.
- The industrial history of the West Midlands is a case-study of every new industrial development having a long period of false starts and blind alleys. The challenge to overcome is to persuading people, companies, and organisations that they are not taking the risk of being an ‘early adopter’ and backing the wrong horse. There are already some well-developed pathways that they can follow if they wish to do so.
- Effective collaboration and partnership is essential as the sustainability space is very dynamic, and not without risk.
- Government should give, long-term, policy and regulatory support to programmes that have been identified as best practice. In addition, Government should support local, trusted, centres of excellence to promote best practice in their area.
- In the West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2021-2026 we set out how adaptation and resilience must go hand-in-hand with net zero. We must ensure that climate adaptation measures are requirement of new homes, alongside measures to achieve net zero. This could include in-built passive flood risk reduction measures, natural ventilation to improve thermal performance and comfort during heatwaves, natural greening, roof reflectivity, permeable paving and rainwater harvesting to reduce freshwater use. Design guidelines should be produced for large capital investment projects, setting out how to use regionally specific climate projections and adaptation options.
You can read our full response to the call for evidence here.