The West Midlands has been chosen to host an international summit on the UK’s net zero future in the build-up to the UN’s climate change conference COP26 in November.
Mayors and local leaders from across the country and ministers from central government will attend the Net Zero Leaders Summit on 13 July, either virtually or in Birmingham.
It will be followed, on the same day, by an international conference for delegates from the UK and across the globe.
Polly Billington, Director of UK100
The event is being jointly organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and UK100, the country’s only network of locally-elected leaders who have pledged to play their part in the global effort to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
It is planned to enable leaders to share best practice on climate action and identify new collaboration models with the government to enable the UK to meet its ambitious net zero targets.
Holding the event in July provides the opportunity to identify the practical measures that need to be put in place ahead of the UN’s 26th climate change conference in Glasgow on 1-12 November, where they will be showcased.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is a prestigious event, and I’m really pleased the West Midlands has been chosen to host it in the run up to COP26.
“The eyes of the world were on Paris for COP21 when mayors and civic leaders signed the ‘Paris City Hall Agreement’, and we want to make sure that the collaboration we start to formulate at this year’s summit is just as powerful.
“Our target of being a net zero carbon region by 2041 is incredibly ambitious, but we know we have the intellectual, manufacturing and political capabilities in the West Midlands to meet our goal. I look forward to sharing our experiences as part of the Net Zero Leaders Summit later this year.”
Polly Billington, Director of UK100, was equally positive: “The ambition and active involvement of local leaders across the country is central to the UK reaching its net zero targets, ensuring the job opportunities and economic benefits come to their communities.
“With central government and local leaders coming together in July, the Prime Minister’s 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution can become a reality, and so much more.
“The UK’s presidency of COP26 offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the country to step forward with a single voice to demonstrate its commitment and capabilities in tackling climate change.
“The West Midlands is a great location as the focus for our summit, even if it has to be largely virtual, and we’re looking forward to working with WMCA to make the event a success.”
The WMCA is planning for the summit to be the start of a programme of events across the region leading up to COP26 and beyond that to the Commonwealth Games.
It will be working with a range of partners from local authorities, businesses and universities, who will also be planning events, to provide an exciting and attractive programme that puts net zero at the forefront of the region’s thinking in the year ahead.
Councillor Ian Courts, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Energy and HS2, who is also Leader of Solihull Council, added: “We’ve developed a robust and evidence-based Five Year Plan for reaching net zero by 2041 and I am extremely proud of the ambition, commitment and energy that the West Midlands is showing in pursuing this massively important agenda for the UK.
“This summit and conference not only puts the spotlight on what we’re aiming to do in the West Midlands, but by bringing together leaders from across the UK it provides us with the perfect opportunity to learn and share best practice with our partner regions.”