As the COP26 conference draws to a close, you might again expect a lot of local news on this. I have managed to take part in some COP related activity, albeit virtually due to my COVID, with an opening address to a regional one-day event, COP26 Regional Roadshow, which mirrored the ‘Cities, Regions & Built Environment’ theme day in Glasgow.
Organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority and held at the School of Architecture & Built Environment at the University of Wolverhampton, this event was a blend of talks and workshops, focusing on three key areas of Future Mobility, Energy & Infrastructure, and Place & the Built Environment.
This was a great opportunity for local authorities, industry and universities to get together and discuss taking these important issues forward across the region. There are technologies around now that can help us get to a net zero carbon region by 2041, but I’m sure there will be new ones around the corner that we can develop and will have an impact on a regional, national or even global scale.
Future transport was the theme of my fourth and most recent ‘Courts on Climate Change’ podcast series with Kim Quazi from Arup, Lead Architect on the HS2 Interchange Station.
I should mention that the Council’s plan to be a Net Zero Carbon Council by 2030 was approved and adopted last week. It looks at both short term and long term actions. At last night’s Cabinet meeting, we discussed our borough’s Net Zero Action Plan (NZAP). It seemed very appropriate that during COP26, our NZAP, was up for discussion.
I think the plan restates how this is a global effort, one in which we all have to play our part. Governments and organisations from across the globe are being asked to chart a clear and achievable course to reach net zero by 2050, and our NZAP puts us on course to do this even earlier for Solihull.
And one other piece of news on Climate Change. Simultaneously with Glasgow COP, Solihull Council once again successfully hosted the Solihull Schools Climate Conference, in partnership with Interclimate Network. Students from nine secondary schools across the borough were welcomed by our Mayor Cllr Ken Meeson, to the Council Chamber to take part in a model COP26 summit.
This provides students with valuable insight and motivation to explore the global impact of climate change, as well as developing their public speaking and critical thinking skillsets.
Each team of students undertook the role of a country in the UN, offering a short opening speech before delving into the formal negotiation process, putting forth their country’s views on climate change and debating progress towards the Paris Agreement. I was really disappointed not to be able to attend – I am sure our world leaders might have learned something if they had attended!
As I recover from COVID I would ask you to take a look at Solihull’s Director of Public Health’s latest message.
I have to say that my COVID symptoms (so far) have been quite limited, and I am rather grateful that I did have my full suite of vaccinations.
And I would draw your attention to the walk-in clinics in Mell Square this weekend for those eligible – to grab a COVID-19 booster jab, (or even a first or second jab) on either Saturday 13 or Sunday 14 November, from 9am until 4:30pm - no appointment is needed. Although I understand last weekend’s sessions were very popular so you may need to queue. Details about other walk-in clinics and how to book vaccination appointments can be found on the Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service website.
As part of being prepared for winter, our health colleagues are also encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated against flu. The flu vaccine for children is a quick and painless nasal spray and is free on the NHS. It will the best protection for children and help reduce any transmission. All the details are here.
Finally, this weekend is Remembrance Sunday and Solihull’s Remembrance Service at St Alphege Church will be going ahead as usual. We have, however, asked the local community and military organisations who are formally invited to reduce their numbers to enable social distancing and to make the event as COVID safe as possible.
This day is a national opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of all those who have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life. It is an important and moving day for me in our civic calendar. If you do plan to attend a service, please do think about keeping yourself safe from COVID.
In light of the current high COVID figures we have provided a live stream option for those who are unable to attend or who choose not to join the service in person because of health concerns or vulnerabilities.
The aim is to give these people the opportunity to join the St Alphege service safely from home. The service will be shown on the Council’s YouTube channel and live coverage will be available from approximately 10:30am on the day and saved on the channel for those who want to watch it at a later time.
Remember your best defence against COVID and flu is to:
- get vaccinated, including getting a booster.
- wear face coverings in crowded spaces, on public transport and in poorly ventilated spaces.
- use hybrid working wherever possible.
And hands, face, space works for COVID, flu and all the other winter viruses.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council