We are committed to clean growth that benefits every resident, and environmental factors are considered as part of everything we do. Our region leads the way. In the West of England, carbon emissions have reduced 35 per cent since 2005, through local renewable energy generation, insulating homes and reductions in coal generation.
We have committed significant investment to innovation, public transport, walking and cycling, renewable energy generation and supporting businesses to transition to low carbon ways of doing things.
We know we all need to do more to reduce carbon emissions, and achieving clean growth is at the heart of our 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.
Our Regional Recovery Plan prioritises a green recovery, using changes in behaviour brought about by Covid-19 to accelerate the transition to net zero carbon.
Climate Emergency Action Plan
The West of England has set an ambitious goal for tackling climate change, committing to net zero carbon by 2030. To achieve this our Climate Emergency Action Plan is being integrated into all that we do.
This vision is shared by our unitary authority partners and is a key part of our Covid-19 Regional Recovery Plans. This integrated approach provides us with an opportunity to reboot our economy in a way that also benefits the environment.
Work is already underway, as we continue to deliver carbon reduction programmes and initiatives. For example, through the Local Energy Scheme, Low Carbon Challenge Fund and South West Energy Hub we are increasing regional renewable energy, supporting residents and businesses to be more energy efficient and creating new green jobs.
However, we must go further to deliver our goal and have identified five high level challenge areas where we need to act:
- Low carbon transport system
Work to decarbonise the transport system, increase cycling, walking and the use of public transport
- Low carbon business
Help businesses and local people benefit from growth in the green economy; maximising government investment in the region & supporting our businesses to build back better
- Renewable energy
Work to decarbonise our energy system and increase local renewable energy
- Low carbon buildings and places
Increase the energy performance of buildings and develop low carbon standards in new developments
- The green environment
Protect and enhance the environment through a proactive approach to green infrastructure
WECA is already making progress on these ambitions, including:
Support for business
The West of England Low Carbon Challenge Fund supports small and medium-sized businesses to improve their energy efficiency through the Green Business Grant scheme. It aims to increase innovative renewable energy generation in the region, which also delivers community benefits through the Local Energy scheme.
WECA also hosts the South West Energy Hub – a £4m 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’re also investing £5m in the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) project, which will reduce carbon emissions by developing better products that are lighter, more fuel efficient and have less waste.
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 Joint Local Transport Plan 4
- £123m of our £133m allocated to transport has been focused on sustainable modes reflecting the region’s priority to invest in low carbon public transport and cycling and walking.
- £30m of national and local funding committed to Future Mobility Zone proposals. This includes e-scooter trials – one of the first projects that will offer a new way to travel around our region.
- £10m to be allocated to fund walking and cycling measures and £3m for active travel and public transport measures that can be rapidly implemented to support recovery from Covid-19.
- Our region’s Spatial Development Strategy will look at strategic priorities including clean and inclusive growth to respond to the climate change emergency declarations.
- The Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy 2020-2030, endorsed by the Environment Agency and Natural England, promotes the benefits of green infrastructure in protecting against floods and increasing trees and green spaces that help to improve our wellbeing whilst also capturing carbon.