As the UK gears up to host the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in November, Solihull Council has unveiled its draft Action Plan for tackling the borough’s CO2 emissions.
- Solihull’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are currently estimated to be 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. That’s roughly equal to driving a diesel car around the equator 200,000 times.
- The Council is now calling on residents, businesses and key stakeholders across the borough to take a look at its ambitious new draft Net Zero Action Plan (NZAP) and to help develop a priority list of actions to take forward.
In the UK climate change is set to cause warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers, as well as more extreme weather events. Communities across Solihull are already starting to see the effects of extreme weather, with flooding being a particular issue.
Recognising the scale and urgency of the climate emergency, Solihull Council has set an important ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions for the borough by 2041. ‘Net zero’ means that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted is balanced out (or offset) by the carbon that is removed from the atmosphere. Achieving net zero will require decisive action to be taken at all levels.
With the COP 26 Summit climate talks taking place in Glasgow later this year, heads of state, climate experts and campaigners will come together to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. As well as looking at how to reduce global carbon emissions, the talks will focus on how we can protect communities and natural habitats most at risk from climate change and mobilise the finance necessary to deliver these goals. Crucially it will also seek to finalise the Paris rule book (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational).
At a local level one of the ways Solihull Council is responding is by developing a Net Zero Action Plan for the borough in order to understand what actions can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and chart a clear course for achieving Net Zero.
Supported by sustainability consultants Anthesis, a Green Paper was produced in February setting out the evidence base for action and identifying some of the changes that need to occur across the borough. This document was used as a high-level discussion paper to kick-start conversations about how Solihull can achieve its net zero ambition, and local residents and businesses were asked to share their views.
The responses from the public consultation highlighted the importance of education to encourage individuals to monitor and manage energy use in buildings, the importance of public and active travel infrastructure and awareness raising on the environmental impacts of waste. The Solihull Climate Change Commission, which provides independent, cross sector and cross-party advice to the Council, conducted a review of the Green Paper and also provided formal feedback which has been used to inform the emerging Net Zero Action Plan.
Council officers will be gathering further feedback on the draft NZAP over the next five weeks and plan to hold a number of physical and virtual events to discuss the next steps in finalising the Net Zero Action Plan. Residents can view the emerging Action Plan, share their thoughts and find out more by visiting netzerosolihull.co.uk
Cllr Andy Mackiewicz - Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning & Housing, said:
“With the UK hosting COP26 this year we have a fantastic opportunity to really put the climate change agenda in the spotlight.
“One of the key goals of the summit is to secure global net zero by the middle of the century. Governments and organisation at all levels will be asked to chart a clear and achievable course to that all important target and that’s exactly what our final NZAP will do.
“While the road ahead will pose many challenges it also offers exciting opportunities for us all to make positive changes to the way we live, work and travel while encouraging us to embrace new technologies. Managed properly our transition to a carbon net zero society has the potential to unlock huge economic growth as we attract new investment in green jobs and infrastructure. This burgeoning sector will be critical to the region and the country’s economic fightback as we emerge from the COVID pandemic. It can also bring other benefits such as better air quality, an improved natural environment, more comfortable homes and reduced energy costs. We should see this challenge as a pivotal moment but also an unprecedented opportunity.
“Achieving net zero by 2041 will require rapid and significant shifts from current activities across all sectors. As a council we will need to work in close collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to deliver the ambitious changes needed to meet the region’s net zero goal.
“Our Green Paper clearly outlined some of the interventions that will need to take place, in other words, ‘the what’. We now need to turn our attention to ‘the how’ and that’s where our Net Zero Action Plan comes in. We want to know where you think we should be focusing our efforts, and what’s important to you. We want to make sure our transition to net zero is fair to everyone in Solihull – so it’s really important to get involved and have your say.”