I haven’t got time to do a full review, but as it is a very important document for the City and it has come out today I have literally skim read it. (Download it here) It does look very promising. Whilst it is good to look at, ie up to coffee table standard it is also very good on detail.
This document has been launched by the Green Commission; a cross city partnership with eco heavy weights such as Dame Julia King from Aston University. However the strength of this document and the equally important recently launched document Birmingham’s Mobility Action plan is down to the strength of vision of the City Council; both politicians and officers. This is a significant addition to the weight of strategy that is building up in the city. Delivery must now follow.
Briefly it outlines the task facing Birmingham and the reasons and the benefits of taking a lead in reducing the City’s carbon dioxide production by 60% by 2027.
It looks at the following areas for action
and talks about the challenges and opportunities. But it goes further than that and importantly talks about potential projects. These are projects that it thinks are fundable and it has a section albeit brief, on the potential sources of funding. This includes reference to work I have been working on with colleagues from Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham and Innovation Birmingham on the accessing of EU funds 2014-2020 which will be controlled by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. The LEP in its draft submission has gone farther than other LEPs in stressing the role of investing in low carbon measures and this document helps to add weight to that decision. (Download the current draft LEP strategy here).
I am hopeful that other funds from Europe can also be brought to bear on this task. Two immediately come to mind. The Climate KIC programme which has a strong foothold in the West Midlands – regionally run by Innovation Birmingham – where under the new budget – 2014-2020 resources will increase significantly. Secondly and I think equally important is the concept of Lighthouse projects being flagged up by the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (I am attending an event in Brussels this week on this programme) – which will have billions of Euros behind it. I hope to post more on this later. What is good about Birmingham City Council and its Universities are that they are aware of such opportunities and do tap into these sorts of funds like no other city.
This focus on reality is a welcome aspect of recent such document – so it is both visionary but based in practicalities. This is an important document given the need to reduce emissions and gives hope at a time when central Government seems to be wavering in its commitment. This also shows that Birmingham may start to challenge Bristol as the Green Capital of the UK in years to come. The important measure of its success will be if the City can bring these early win projects to fruition and whether in the cuts maelstrom that exists in the City Council those working in this area can be supported and not disbanded. This is such an important agenda that it needs everyone’s support. Well done Birmingham City Council.