The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2041, paving the way for sustainable business growth.
In March, the WMCA Board of Directors endorsed the first five-year plan to invest in creating a resilient low-carbon economy. The authority is now calling on businesses in the 18 local authorities to put sustainability at the heart of their operations by making the West Midlands Net Zero company commitment.
The West Midlands have set themselves an ambitious goal as they strive to lead the Green Revolution and secure a more sustainable future. Professional engineering services consultancy WSP produced the region’s first five-year plan (FYP), outlining the plans and policies needed to meet its 2041 target.
Success in achieving this goal will depend on buy-in from the regional business community and one of the main priorities of the WMCA is to persuade regional organizations to engage in The West Midlands Net Zero Business Pledge. Administered by Sustainability West Midlands (SWM), the initiative promotes the agenda and provides support and practical advice on reducing emissions.
The WSP report says the region needs to achieve a 33% carbon reduction by 2026 from a 2016 baseline to stay on track. It will require a concerted effort from all key stakeholders, but presents a unique opportunity to help tackle climate change and reposition the West Midlands economy. According to WSP, net zero drive could create 92,000 jobs by 2041, mainly in sustainable industries and technologies.
The main priorities include modernizing homes, accelerating the manufacture of electric vehicles, developing an infrastructure for renewable energy and providing training and skills to support a green economy. The report estimates that around £ 4.3bn of investment will be needed to support the net zero transition over the next five years, reaching a total of £ 15.4bn by 2041.
Our planet is in the grip of a climate emergency and there is no time to waste investing in a more sustainable future. If we fail to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures will rise three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century, with catastrophic consequences.
Yet the key to convincing businesses is not to simply appeal to their conscience. We need to demonstrate the effect of sustainability on their results.
By helping to spur what the government calls our “green industrial revolution,” businesses can unlock huge opportunities. Its ten-point plan aims to position the UK as a world leader in renewable energy, sustainable transport and cleaner technologies. Being an early adopter also helps companies prepare for new environmental regulations and gain a competitive advantage as customers and supply chains become more environmentally savvy.
West Midlands manufacturers signing the Net Zero Business Pledge can access support from a variety of sources. SWM’s Sustainable Business Support Center promotes the work of sustainable businesses, provides links to local green business networks and highlights funding opportunities. The West Midlands Innovation Program, another WMCA initiative, aims to increase levels of demand-driven business innovation in all areas of the region, by providing integrated and targeted support to businesses and helping access more national funding for innovation.
Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA Environment and Energy Portfolio Leader and Solihull Board Leader, said: “We aim to make the West Midlands a leader in green business and our plan # WM2041 will provide many business opportunities for companies such as modernization, clean transportation, forestry. and carbon capture. The sooner we integrate businesses, the closer we will come to creating a greener, healthier and more prosperous region. “
He added: “Our transition to net zero will present its challenges, but I feel like people are starting to see the opportunities it presents. Capitalize on initiatives we are already taking in transport, technology and manufacturing, the West Midlands are uniquely positioned to become a major driver of the exciting new green economy.
Meanwhile, universities in the region have an impressive track record in helping manufacturers tap new avenues for sustainable growth. This could involve anything from developing new processes with the University of Warwick’s Sustainable Product Innovation Network (SPIN) to WMG, to finding ways to leverage the circular economy with the Advanced Services Group. from Aston Business School.
Helena Simmonds, WMG Innovation Director, said: “SPIN brings together like-minded companies to discuss why sustainability is good for business. The online events have so far attracted over 120 participants and for those looking to work on projects, we have launched our cohort program. Our SPIN cohorts come together to gain knowledge, implement change and grow their business. “
The West Midlands have set themselves a goal of reaching net zero nine years ahead of the rest of the UK, but with a strong support network in place, regional businesses can enjoy a head start on the road to durability.
Sustainability consultancy, Wylde Connections, is one of the founding ambassadors of SMEs working with WMCA and Sustainability West Midlands to promote the net zero message.
Chief Executive Officer Dr Denise Taylor said: “The earlier companies of all sizes embark on their sustainability journey, the better. There really is no time to waste and companies should be building their action plans now and putting sustainability at the heart of strategic decision making. There is a very strong business case for doing this and the sooner companies make the transition, the greater the competitive advantage. “
To make the WMCA Net Zero Business commitment, go to: https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/environment/west-midlands-net-zero-business-pledge