Mayor's £40bn plan to make West Mids carbon neutral could bust 80-year emissions budget in six years - The Solihull Observer

Mayor's £40bn plan to make West Mids carbon neutral could bust 80-year emissions budget in six years

Solihull Editorial 17th Jan, 2020   0

WEST MIDLANDS Mayor Andy Street has said the region will experience drastic change to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2041.

Residents and businesses in the West Midlands face a total of 74 new policies by the Combined Authority to reach its climate goals.

Petrol-powered vehicles will be banned from the region’s roads, and millions of trees will be planted, according to the #WM2041 green paper, released today (January 17).

More electric vehicle charging points will be installed, energy efficient LED’s will light the streets and cycle routes will be improved.

But the WMCA admitted in the report it is ‘not practical’ to switch drivers to electrical vehicles.

Its research found the 42,500 GWh of energy currently powering vehicles from petrol is twice the total energy in the West Midlands electricity grid.

The authority conceded the ‘the implications for local energy infrastructure of shifting fuel use from petrol to electricity are significant.’

Coun Ian Courts, the authority’s environment chief and leader of Solihull Council, said the ambitious plan could provide thousands of green jobs, but ‘an investment programme substantial enough to meet this challenge will be in the order of £40bn over 21 years.’

To achieve its carbon neutral goal by 2041, the West Midlands would need to drop carbon emissions by 13 per cent in the next year.

The plans give Birmingham a ‘carbon budget’ from 2020 to 2100 of 30.81 megatonnes of carbon dioxide – from a total cumulative budget of 126 million tonnes over the next eighty years.

At current emission rates, that budget would be used in six years.

The other eighteen council areas share the remaining 75.5 per cent of regional emissions.

In the green paper, the WMCA found per person carbon emissions were the lowest in Walsall, Dudley and Coventry, and the highest emissions are in North Warwickshire and Stratford.

Campaigners at the West Midlands Friends of the Earth congratulated the WMCA for the two decade plan, whilst cautioning over huge infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Chris Crean, from West Midlands Friends of the Earth, said: “HS2 must either be scrapped or radically rethought – if it is not we will still be paying for the carbon from just the construction of that project for years to come, let alone the destruction of precious ecosystems taking place right now. The high speeds have huge energy demands which should also be considered.

“The role of international aviation and shipping must be radically reshaped as those sectors start to take full accountability of their carbon emissions and our exportation of our responsibilities on to other parts of the world.

“We are faced with ever more sprawl and car dependent developments across the region. These, including UK Central, must be radically reviewed if we are to come to grips with the Climate Emergency.”


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