The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has declared a climate emergency as part of its continued actions to reduce carbon emissions across the region.
Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England, moved the motion at the WECA Committee meeting today (Friday 19 July), which recognises:
- The challenge and threat of the current climate emergency.
- The huge significance of climate change and its impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, and the very real concerns of residents on these issues.
- The foresight and leadership shown on this issue and positive actions being taken by the West of England authorities; and welcomes the respective motions agreed recently by these councils on the climate emergency and actively taking up the challenge of achieving carbon neutrality.
- That a huge amount of work is taking place across the region and that the West of England has already made a strong commitment to clean and inclusive economic growth.
In recognition of the seriousness of the global climate emergency, WECA has become the fourth Combined Authority in the country to declare a climate emergency; joining the Liverpool City Region, West Yorkshire and West Midlands in taking such action.
Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “The West of England has already made a strong commitment to tackling climate change. Figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demonstrate a reduction in carbon emissions across the West of England Combined Authority region by 35% since 2005. This reduction was achieved while the region’s economy grew by 46% according to the Office of National Statistics.
“This clearly demonstrates that economic growth can be achieved alongside ambitious carbon reduction if we work together as a region. Climate change is a challenge recognised by all the leaders of the Combined Authority and we’re already backing our ambitious plans with real investment to build upon our early successes and ensure a clean, sustainable future for everyone.”
At its meeting today, the WECA Committee is also approved a £250,000 investment to develop pilot projects – through its Energy Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan – supporting the region’s move to a low carbon future.
Progress reports will be brought to the West of England Combined Authority Committee, the West of England Joint Committee and the Combined Authority Overview & Scrutiny Committee on a six-monthly basis.
Today’s WECA meeting also approved investment of £718,000 on integrated ticket across public transport, including extending contactless payments for buses, as well as £100,000 to develop more walking and cycling routes. These projects are all part of WECA’s aim to get more people out of their cars and get around the region in more sustainable ways – helping to reduce carbon emissions.
The West of England Combined Authority has also launched schemes and invested in projects to support carbon reduction initiatives. These include:
- Working to tackle congestion and improve public transport options, encouraging people to leave their cars at home – we have made significant investment in rail, buses and walking and cycling.
- Launching a new £4.2m West of England Low Carbon Challenge Fund to support micro, small and medium-sized business to adopt energy efficiency measures, along with community energy schemes and retrofit energy efficiency measures for homes.
- Helping fund the National Composites Centre in South Gloucestershire, which is developing lightweight materials that are stronger and have the potential to reduce weight and increase carbon efficiency and is already making a difference in aerospace, automotive and construction and so much more.
- Hosting the South West Energy Hub which supports projects ranging from energy efficiency retrofit for homes, business and the public sector, to renewable or low carbon electricity and heat generation.
- Multi-million pound investment in the Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, a global centre of excellence, delivering transformational research and innovation in low-emission vehicles to improve the air we breathe.
All three of WECA’s constituent councils – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire – have also declared a climate emergency.