Climate change has caught out too many of us, including many city leaders. As they juggle the needs of unleashing the full potential of their economies – competing in a global market for talent and investment – whilst they also tackle growing inequalities faced by their most deprived and marginalised communities, how do cities begin in the race to tackle the climate crisis?
That’s the knotty problem Inner Circle Consulting took on for Birmingham City council, Europe’s largest municipal authority. The answer lay in doing the fundamentals well and providing the space for collaboration and innovation. Within a year we created one of the UK’s most comprehensive Climate Action plans: Birmingham’s Route to Zero. More importantly, work is now underway and delivering at pace.
The city has a climate forum with stakeholder representation from every sector. There is a prioritised portfolio plan, new team dedicated to a transformative whole-system change programme, and a series of well-funded projects yielding results for citizens (when the public sector continues to face deep austerity). The work is fully aligned with embedded in city land use, transport, city management, housing and economic strategies and social programmes. It is leading the thinking on Low Carbon Neighbourhoods.
Specific impacts include:
• A Route to Zero team is in place, embedded at the heart of a new Target Operating Model
• The Clean Air Zone went live on 1st June supporting the move to cleaner air in the city. 6% reduction in vehicle journeys the first 3 months, 8% increase in compliant vehicles using the zone.
• The Council has secured funding of c£500k investment to develop 36 homes with the latest energy saving technologies.
• The Council’s home building company finalised the new build specification with a higher energy efficiency rating for all new build properties.
• The Council is in the final stages of agreeing Green Homes LAD 2 grant funding of £9.6m, including matched funding, to install energy efficient retrofit measures in some 1500 homes.
• The delivery of EV (Electric Vehicle) Charging infrastructure is on track with the first three sites at the point of being installed.
• The City Council will be taking delivery of its first hydrogen bus next week and will begin testing and driver training ahead of formal commercial operation in Oct/Nov.
• A new Net Zero Neighbourhood has been established in East Birmingham and formal a crucial part of the area’s Inclusive Growth Strategy, aligning zero carbon with social and economic development programmes.
• The Council pilot a 300-home whole-house retrofit model which will test a delivery and financing model that could be applied to all 60,000 social housing stock and have an enormous impact of fuel bills and the cost of living
• The Our Future City Plan, Birmingham Development Plan, Birmingham Transport Plan, City of Nature Vision, and Urban Forest Master Plan are all aligning around an exciting vision for change and embed net zero carbon thinking in the development blueprint of the city.
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