The West Midlands needs "low carbon pioneers" to emerge and lead it into a greener future, the head of the region’s regeneration strategy has insisted.
Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, called on local companies to make the "low carbon economy a reality" to ensure the region was prepared for the climate change challenges of the future.
Mr Laverty was speaking as the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged business leaders do more to put sustainability at the heart of everything they do.
Addressing the country’s leading chief executives, Prince Charles said there was "no time to lose" in developing business models to combat global warming while Mr Brown called for a "fourth technological revolution" to transform the way people lived.
Rallying West Midlands businesses to lead the drive, Mr Laverty said: "The West Midlands pioneered the high-carbon economy.
"We can pioneer the low-carbon economy - with new technologies and new processes. The strategy is in place, funding to kick-start innovative low carbon projects is in place and we’re demonstrating what can be achieved.
"But Advantage West Midlands can only do so much. We hope we’ve done enough to convince the private sector that a low carbon approach is good for business.
"Now is the time for the new low carbon industrial pioneers to emerge."
Mr Laverty said the West Midlands was already ahead of the rest of the UK having produced the country’s first low-carbon economic strategy and the first sustainable development action plan.
He claimed this was based on a practical approach to climate change, rather than just "making a song and dance about it". "We’re from the West Midlands. We just get on with the job," he said.
"The region has a proud history of innovation, enterprise and industrial ingenuity. Now, the region that is the home of the Industrial Revolution has an opportunity to drive forward a new low carbon agenda."
Speaking at the Prince’s May Day Business Summit - an annual platform to encourage company bosses to act on climate change - Prince Charles urged firms to seize the "economic opportunities" that come from tackling global warming.
In an impassioned plea, he said: "What more can I do but urge you, this country’s business leaders, to take the essential action now to make your businesses more sustainable.
"I’m exhausted with repeating that there really is no time to lose."
He added: "Of course, we also know that real economic opportunities can come from the new technologies, business models and financial instruments needed to combat climate change."
A long-standing campaigner on green issues, Charles said: "You would think, wouldn’t you, that protecting the ultimate capital asset upon which all future income depends - in other words this fragile planet - was worth investing in, seriously and urgently?"
He praised Unilever’s chief executive Patrick Cescau, who has set a target to procure 100 per cent of palm oil from certified sustainable sources by 2015.
"This really is a groundbreaking development which could make the whole difference to the future of the rainforests.
"Meanwhile, I can only pray that other companies which use palm oil will follow your determined and principled leadership - this really is corporate responsibility in action."
The Prime Minister said everyone, including "businesses, consumers and Government", had a part to play in creating a green economic revolution.
"Our vision is of people power that is part of a green economy that provides new jobs and opportunities," he said.
"In the past the steam engine, the internal combustion engine (and) the microprocessor transformed not just technology but the way society was organised and the way people lived.
"Now we’re about to embark on a comparable technological transformation to low carbon energy with energy efficiency."
He stressed building a low carbon economy would create "thousands of new British businesses and hundreds of thousands of new British jobs".
The Prime Minister said he would create a new global fund and reforms to the world bank to help developing countries reduce their emissions.
West Midland firms attending the regional May Day Summit event held in Coventry were Jaguar Land Rover, Coventry Building Society, Carillion, Royal Mail and Severn Trent Water.