Dear Sir, The Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is now under way and provides the world with an opportunity to tackle head-on how we limit global greenhouse gas emissions.
At home the UK Government is leading by example. The 2008’s Climate Change Act introduced the first statutory climate change target in the world – an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 and at least 26 per cent by 2020. The March 2009 budget established ‘carbon budgets’ and in July 2009 the Low Carbon Transition Plan set out how we will meet these. The challenge is stark. The one per cent reduction we achieved here in the West Midlands between 2005 and 2007 is too slow. We must move much faster!
However, this does present us with huge opportunities in creating jobs that will help us build our way out of the recession. We in the West Midlands are well placed with our manufacturing base to make the most of these new markets.
I was delighted to be able to comment last week on Modec, the Coventry based manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles, when it announced that it is joining forces with America’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer Navistar by setting up a US joint venture company.
And we need to make the most of these opportunities. I have asked Professor Julia King of Aston University to set up a Low Carbon Task Group, to help the region move quickly to make the most of the low carbon agenda; reduce our emissions; make the most of the business opportunities; and help to make businesses more efficient.
For example, the Summerfield Eco Village project in Birmingham recently won the National Housing Federations West Midlands Region’s What We Are Proud of Award. It is Birmingham’s first Eco Neighbourhood and 329 homes have received solar hot water systems in what is believed to be the largest neighbourhood level renewable energy project in the UK.
So whilst it is right to celebrate the success in getting the world leaders around the negotiating table in Copenhagen, we need to recognise the challenges ahead and make the most of the opportunities within the West Midlands.
Ian Austin MP,
Regional Minister for the West Midlands