Birmingham’s Green Commission launched its Carbon Road Map in November 2013 and prior to that its vision in March 2013. This post highlights a report and presentation that went to the Connectivity and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Commission in March 2015 about the progress so far and the priorities for 2015. The covering report, which is brief, can be accessed here.
Its vision outlined a target reduction of CO2 emissions of 60% by 2027 (from 1990)
It is hard to measure the impact of the strategy so far given the lag in data however headline news is that the City was recently ranked 18th globally in the 2015 Arcadis Sustainable Cities index. So good news there.
The presentation slides which are much more detailed can be accessed here. They detail progress across a number of the areas defined by the Commission; it outlines the key partners and individuals under each theme being progressed and key future projects. It starts of by outlining what can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity to the ambition of being a green city – namely the prediction that Birmingham’s population will grow by over 150,000 people up to 2031 leading to the city having 1.22m residents. This will entail a further 80,000 homes 100,000 jobs. It is a challenge as the target is not per capita based. It is an opportunity however to really introduce the newest technologies and to get developers to think outside of the box – developing exemplars – as other cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm are doing.
Some of the existing projects that are worth mentioning are
- Birmingham District Energy scheme ‐ with an ongoing £14m investment in city centre heat network. which is creating the largest single network in the UK.
- The O-Gen wood biomass gasification plant.. A £49m project based in Tyseley that will be operational and generating electricity in early 2016
- University of Birmingham’s £12.3m Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage
There are many more listed- including quite a few which overlap with other strategies such as Birmingham Connected – on the mobility front.
There are some really exciting future projects being developed including
- Energy Research Accelerator ‐ a recently agreed £60m project involving University of Birmingham and other key Midlands universities looking at reducing energy costs in Manufacturing
- The recently flagged up location of Innovate UK’s Energy Systems Catapult in the City. This will be a high profile national body focussed on innovation in this sector. A real coup for the city.
- While much work has been developed in Birmingham the Green Commission intend to develop a Green Observatory to spread best practice to the wider GBS LEP area
The slides are well presented, giving much more information, by the lead officer Dr Jackie Homan. This can be viewed here – and is well worth looking at.
With the shortage of funds within the Council – it is clear that the development of a Green Observatory for the LEP may help to support the team in the Council that is supporting the Green Commission. This is vital if the City is to make more progress in this important area.
It is clear as well from the priorities for 2015 that sustainability is not yet seen as core to all of the Council’s operations – as the team backing the Green Commission work are seeking to use 2015 to further embed good practice across the Council; to ensure sustainability is seen as part of core business and not an add on. This is a vital task as the Council must not only been seen to talk the talk but also walk the walk. The Council in supporting the Green Commission has shown leadership – it must now show delivery.
So good progress has been made – lets hope it continues.