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State of the Region 2020 Full Report

13. Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Air quality across the West Midlands region has improved and in 2019 was down to 37 days of poor air quality per year (rated 4 or higher on the Daily Air Quality Index); a decrease of 9 days less than the previous year. 

CO2emitted in the WMCA area in 2017 was 20,581 ktCO2, this equates to 5.0 tonnes per capita which is slightly below the England average of 5.1 tonnes per capita. Compared to 2016, the WMCA has reduced emissions by 3.6% (-775 KtCO2). The tonnes per capita figure has decreased by 3.8%, from 5.1 to 5.0. England’s overall emissions have decreased by 3.6%, with tonnes per capita falling from 5.4 in 2016 to 5.1. in 2017.

Emissions are broken down into four categories which can be seen in the following figure. Within the WMCA, the highest category to emit emissions was transport (8,212 KtCO2) in 2017. In contrast the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) was -78 KtCO2 for the WMCA.

  Industry & Commercial Domestic Transport N.LULUCF Total Per Capita Emissions (t)
BCLEP 1,442 1,668 1,664 -8 4,766 4
CWLEP 2,419 1,348 2,953 -30 6,690 7.2
GBSLEP 2,714 2,855 3,595 -39 9,125 4.5
WMCA 6,575 5,871 8,212 -78 20,581


WM2041 Case Study

In June 2019, the WMCA declared a climate emergency. In July 2019 the Combined Authority Board received a research paper from the Tyndall Centre outlining the trajectory that would be necessary in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2041. This work includes two interim carbon budgets of 36% reduction by 2022 and 69% reduction by 2027. The focus in on rapid transition towards a zero-carbon future where action must be ‘front-loaded’ –we will need to meet year-on-year carbon emissions reductions of 13% to reach that target. Following the production of the target, a ‘green paper’ was written to indicate how the region could take action in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2041. Extensive consultation was carried out with 415 responses. On May 6th , the UK’s Committee on Climate Change wrote to the Prime Minister urging a low carbon recovery from COVID-19. They outline 5 areas that should be expanded immediately (all of these appear below in the WMCA plans): 

  • Investments in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure. 
  • Supporting reskilling, retraining and research for a net-zero, well-adapted economy. 
  • Upgrades to our homes ensuring they are fit for the future. 
  • Making it easy for people to walk, cycle, and work remotely. 
  • Tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure.

It is currently unclear as to exactly what a recovery ‘timetable’ is going to look like but it is likely that it will involve a series of steps as we transition from lockdown.

Activities that will have immediate impact and/or set a clear direction of travel for the kind of recovery we expect in the West Midlands. These include: 

  • West Midlands Green Financing 
  • West Midlands Clean Growth Challenge 
  • WM Circular Economy Taskforce 
  • Community Green Grants 
  • Reinforcing the region’s energy infrastructure to support green growth 
  • Active Travel 
  • Urban Transformation Fund (Brownfield sites) 
  • Communications and behaviour change