WMCA sets new ambitious carbon reduction target for the region – net zero by 2041

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has set new climate change targets to reduce carbon emissions across the region. Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has welcomed the targets as the “next important step” to a having credible plan to deal with the climate emergency declared by the WMCA Board in June.

The proposed target of reaching net-zero emissions no later than 2041 has been set independently, based on scientific evidence from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change. Shorter term targets of a 36% reduction in carbon emissions by 2022 and a 69% reduction by 2027 have also been set to ensure steady progress.

The targets are intended to drive rapid action from businesses, local government and citizens in the region to reduce their emissions. The financial cost of a transition to a zero carbon economy is estimated to be 1-2% of GDP, equivalent to £40 billion for the West Midlands over the period to 2041. Meeting a net-zero target any sooner would require much more investment on top of that. The WMCA Board is being asked to “commit to an inclusive transition which protects marginalised communities, maximises support for West Midlands businesses, and helps individuals to change their own behaviours.” At present, carbon emissions in the West Midlands are split between transport (roughly a third), industry (a third) and domestic heating and electricity (a third). All these areas will be addressed in the WMCA’s carbon reduction plan, which is being developed in consultation with groups such as Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate, and due for approval in autumn 2019.

The Mayor said: “It’s going to be tough, but we have to act fast. Setting these carbon targets is the next important step in our plan to deal with the climate emergency. We have a bigger challenge than Liverpool or Manchester because of our industrial heritage, but we also have a bigger opportunity to develop our low carbon businesses and create new jobs. Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in the Castle Bromwich factory to build the new all-electric Jaguar XJ is a brilliant example of what can be done to tackle climate change while creating well-paid jobs here in the region. Climate change is an issue which will affect future generations, and we must get on with delivering a serious plan to tackle it.”

Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for the environment, energy and HS2 and leader of Solihull Council said: “Last month we declared a climate emergency in the West Midlands and now we have started to set out what that means in practice and the action we need to take. This is an important step towards regional collaboration which is going to be vital if we are to tackle climate change head on.”

Aaron Smith, from Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate, said: “This is the start of a long road and we hope this target will be reduced to nearer 2030, our recommendation. All latest reports, both political and scientific, confirm that we must act now instead of delaying our responsibility and commitment to climate action.”