Four years to act


Birmingham Friends of the Earth today (15 September) launched a major new report in partnership with the Coperative Bank on the action needed in the next four years to protect the residents and economy of Birmingham by averting dangerous man made climate change [1].
The organisation is asking all Birmingham MPs to support The Big Ask, its climate change campaign, by pressing the Government to roll out an action plan to cut the nation’s climate changing carbon emissions. [2]

The report, ‘The Future starts here: the route to a low carbon economy’ is based on research by the world renowned research centre, The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester. It is the first comprehensive route map showing how swift Government action on climate change will protect lives, livelihoods and our economy. The report also shows how the Government can keep its pledge to prevent temperatures rising beyond critical danger points [3].

Chris Williams of

Birmingham Friends of the Earth said:

“So far 5 Birmingham MPs are backing The Big Ask, our campaign for a new law committing the Government to cut climate changing pollution. Our report shows how to beat climate change so that lives and livelihoods are protected across the region – but only if we act now and before 2010. We need leadership from West Midlands MPs and the Regional Assembly, and most of all from the Government, to introduce a new law to get year on year savings in climate pollution.”

“During the next month at least 9 Birmingham MPs will be lobbied as part of a national month of action to ensure that the Climate Change Bill is included in the Queen’s Speech in November.”

“Dangerous climate change is not inevitable but every year that passes without proper action means climate change gets tougher to crack and people will find it harder to act. Birmingham is locked into some very damaging trends. From the design of new homes to growth in road and air traffic the region is still part of the problem. This report shows how we can get on to a path of economic success without continuing to add to climate change. That has to be good for everyone in Birmingham.”

West Midlands

According to Defra the West Midlands is responsible for the release of 43.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum[4].

The Ecological Footprint report for the West Midlands ‘Counting Consumption’ details the breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions [5].

While there are a large number of regional and local policies relating to climate change across the region it is essential that these are now put into action.


Notes for editors

[1] The study which is published with The Cooperative Bank, outlines what the Government could do – and by when – to keep within the UK’s “carbon budget”. It maps out how homes, business and transport in England’s regions and the rest of the UK may change as a result. The report shows that:

  • – The UK can achieve the carbon reductions needed if the Government implements a major action plan within the next 4 years. Delay will require much more drastic and less manageable cuts.
  • – The UK needs to achieve significant emission cuts – of around 70 per cent – within the next 30 years. The report shows that even the Government target of a 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 is now inadequate as it does not mean enough reductions within the necessary timescale.
  • – UK carbon emissions have not fallen since 1990. Government calculations which show a decrease are misleading as they fail to take into account emissions from shipping and aviation.

[2] For more information on The Big Ask climate change campaign, go to:

[3] International governments have all accepted that it is essential to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees above pre industrial times if we are to have much chance of avoiding dangerous man made climate change. In 2000 the Government committed the UK to playing its part in keeping temperatures from rising by 2 degrees above pre industrial times. If emissions of climate changing pollutants continue at the current rate the UK would emit 80 per cent more than the “carbon budget” proposed in the research.

Research published in 2005 at the UK Government’s scientific conference on climate change concluded that preventing temperatures from rising above 2 degrees centigrade would mean keeping the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as far below 450 parts per million as possible. UK Government targets are based on achieving concentrations of 550 parts per million and as such will not produce the reduction in carbon dioxide needed. ‘The Future Starts Here’ report launched today calculates the UK’s carbon budget based on achieving 450 parts per million.

[4] To see the Government’s figures for the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from each UK region see the table on page 3 of the report ‘Experimental Statistics on carbon dioxide emissions at Local Authority and Regional Level, Defra Statistics Summary, 21 October 2005’. This is viewable at:

[5] The West Midlands’ CO2 emissions from consumption (11.5 t/cap) are 4 per cent lower than the UK average, while emissions from production (9.4 t/cap) are 13 per cent lower than the UK average. Although most of the UK consumes more than it produces, the discrepancy in the West Midlands between consumption and production is twice the UK average. This reflects not only the decline of West Midlands manufacturing, but also the continuing growth in household consumption, more than ever supplied from industries outside the region.

Like many other regions and devolved countries, CO2 emissions from home maintenance and energy use (3.14 t/cap) are the largest single sector in consumption.

This component is slightly higher than the national average, and highlights the potential for reducing overall CO2 emissions by focusing on the home and energy sector.

Transport is the next biggest component of the West Midlands’ total emissions.

CO2 emitted per capita from travel is 3 per cent lower than the average, and makes up 21 per cent of the Footprint. Car use dominates West Midlands’ travel emissions (74 per cent of the travel total, slightly higher than the national average). Of all surface transport, 87 per cent is by car, and most of the remaining emissions are due to air travel. The more efficient public transport modes amount to less than 9 per cent of the total travel.

Counting Consumption West Midlands, WWF, UK, 2006