In the West of England, carbon emissions have reduced by 35 per cent since 2005, through local renewable energy generation, insulating homes and reductions in coal generation. Over the same period, our economy has grown by 46 per cent, demonstrating that economic growth can go hand-in-hand with decarbonisation.
We know we all need to do more, and achieving clean growth is at the heart of our emerging Local Industrial Strategy. It will increase our productivity, boost earning power and help protect the climate and environment upon which we and future generations depend.
The West of England Low Carbon Challenge fund supports small and medium-sized businesses and community organisations to improve their energy efficiency.
WECA also hosts the South West Energy Hub – a £3.5m project funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to increase the number and quality of local energy projects in the South West.
WECA and LEP have invested millions in projects to support clean growth ambitions, including £10m in the Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) – a global centre of excellence, delivering transformational research and innovation in low-emission vehicles. We’ve also invested in the National Composites Centre, which is developing lightweight materials that are stronger and have the potential to reduce weight and increase carbon efficiency.
We’re working to tackle congestion and improve transport options, encouraging people to leave their cars at home. The need to address poor air quality and take action against climate change is a key objective of our region’s draft Joint Local Transport Plan (2019 consultation draft).
On 15 February, the West of England Joint Committee agreed the basis for a ‘West of England Energy Strategy’. This sets the direction towards a diverse, resilient and affordable energy system that enables economic growth and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It outlines 5 areas of activity:
1) Improving business and industry energy efficiency
2) improving our homes
3) accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
4) delivering clean, smart, flexible power
5) leading in the public sector.