Birmingham Friends of the Earth has done much to persuade the City Council to adopt a target of reducing Birmingham’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2026. The Big Ask campaign pressed all of Birmingham’s MPs to back the UK-wide Climate Change Act last year. Our city clearly has the chance to be a flagship in the Low Carbon Revolution, as it was in the (coal-based) Industrial Revolution. Now we need everyone’s ideas about what specific changes are needed to clean up the city’s use of energy.
The Local Strategic Partnership (Be Birmingham) includes the City Council, health service, other public bodies, business and the voluntary sector. It has made a first step in Getting Serious about CO2 by adopting the ambitious target, but has so far only produced a Strategic Framework document, which is thin on what actual changes will be needed to achieve real reductions.
Some ‘progress’ has been made, mainly due to the credit crunch and recession in 2008/09, which means less waste, less traffic, less energy being used in the city. The danger is that meeting the first year’s targets for carbon reduction could justify inaction. If real changes to how we operate are not made, and the economy picks up again, so will CO2. What is really needed is new and different low carbon behaviours to appear, including new incentives, technology and organisation that can change the energy base of society.
The recession means falling income for public bodies, with less business rates, but a rising demand for services. The danger is that “going green” is something that public bodies, businesses and individuals will think they cannot afford in difficult times. Be Birmingham might even be tempted to fall back on massaging the statistics (!?).
Birmingham Friends of the Earth believes that cutting carbon can be a stimulus to cutting the current waste of resources and money. It will include turning things down, and doing less in some areas. Therefore, carbon reduction does not need to cost more, overall. Investment should be justified from future savings. There is plenty of scope to create new jobs and businesses. Birmingham should be moving into the low carbon products and services needed for the future, bearing in mind Peak Oil, and the rising price of all energy, food and commodities.
Large organisations tend to continue in the ways that they are used to. New ideas often have to come from the outside. This is where the 400 members of Birmingham Friends of the Earth come in…
You now have the chance to suggest specific measures that would ‘cut the carbon’ in Birmingham. If everyone can suggest three ideas, then we will have a wonderful ideas bank to present for greening the city.
The areas where much could be done locally are:
Housing – We need to make it more energy efficient (bearing in mind that most homes for the future have already been built and that 70 per cent of homes are owner occupied).
Transport – We need to make cars emit less pollution and encourage people to use cars less, i.e. technical and behavioural changes.
Energy- We need to move away from importing fossil fuels. What sources of energy for low carbon are available in Birmingham that can be developed?
For each idea, please think about how it could cut carbon, who would implement it and how the change might be paid for, but also what benefits it would bring. You can write your suggestions down and drop them into the Warehouse at 54 Allison St, Digbeth, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also come to the next meeting of the Get Serious Campaign action group on 24th August.