We have signed an open letter to Birmingham City Council telling them to turn their words into actions. You can sign the letter as an individual or  as an organisation. Click HERE to sign the letter. A copy of the letter is below.

Birmingham City Council: you declared a climate emergency, now turn words into actions

Three years ago Birmingham City Council declared a climate emergency and made the commitment to take action to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.

Now with their ‘Route to Zero Public Survey 2022’, the council is trying to shift responsibility for addressing the climate emergency from those governing the city to those who live in it.

It is hard to read the new council survey on attitudes to climate change without a sense of frustration and a feeling that we are just going around in circles.

Why, when we know that what is needed is rapid and far-reaching changes at the level of local and national government, is the council looking to measure the thermostat choices of individual households?

The survey correctly identifies human activity as the main cause of climate change. It also highlights how we are already seeing direct, negative impacts from climate change which, most recently, have included increases in the cost of living that most people in Birmingham cannot afford.

We are curious, however, about what the council means by human activity. Reading the survey, you could be forgiven for thinking that it exclusively means the ‘carbon footprint’ of individual citizens.

The term ‘carbon footprint’ was invented by the fossil fuel industry who then promoted and popularised the concept. This was a deliberate strategy to blame ordinary people for climate change, rather than the greed of big oil companies.

We fully support people’s personal efforts to contribute to the changes needed, but it is not good enough for the council to suggest that if we switch lights off and turn our heating down, that this will have sufficient impact to solve the climate crisis.

For those struggling to heat their homes and feed their families, let alone find time to complete a survey, it is, quite frankly, an insult.

We urge everyone to participate in the survey and to use it to let Birmingham City Council know what they think.

Furthermore, we demand that Birmingham City Council commits to the following climate justice actions:

– the closure of Tyseley Incinerator,
– adequate plans to retrofit Birmingham homes,
– Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across the city with segregated cycle paths on the boundary roads,
– major new investment in a green public transport system for Birmingham that is publicly owned, free to use and accessible for all,
– no further expansion of airports,
– investment in parks and green spaces,
– immediate divestment from fossil fuels,
– creating thousands of new green jobs required for a just transition to a green economy,
– expanding the R20 Community Assembly to create a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice, and be led by its decisions.

Rather than asking which sacrifices residents would be prepared to make, Birmingham City Council should be consulting on systemic action and outlining the many opportunities that green policies and green jobs could bring for the people of Birmingham. This way, everyone in Birmingham could be climate leaders.