The strength of the West Midlands in the green and low carbon technologies of the future is to be showcased to the world at the COP26 international climate conference in Glasgow, which starts in earnest today (Monday November 1).
As the Home of the Green Industrial Revolution, the West Midlands will be at the heart of the conference demonstrating its low carbon manufacturing prowess and ingenuity as it races to meet its ambitious target of becoming a net zero region by 2041.
The UK’s first battery powered train and first hydrogen-fuelled train – both designed and built in the West Midlands - will be at Glasgow and Andy Street, the region’s elected Mayor, will join other mayors from major cities around the world at COP26 to take forward net zero solutions.
The Mayor is set to deliver a speech in the COP26 United Nations pavilion on November 11 in which he will talk about the region’s on-going work in building a zero-emission transport system – a project that received £1bn of additional funding in last week’s Budget announcement.
On the same day he will be at the COP26 UK pavilion where he will launch a new initiative that will see carbon-cutting actions taken on a neighbourhood-wide scale rather than at an individual household level. The WMCA’s director of public sector reform, Ed Cox will also be making a speech in the United Nations pavilion on November 2 about the work of the West Midlands in driving the investment and economic opportunities of moving to net zero.
But the region’s participation will not be limited to Glasgow. As part of the official conference programme, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will be hosting the COP26 Regional Roadshow on Thursday 11 November at the Springfield Campus, University of Wolverhampton.
Low-carbon manufacturing and goods are now the West Midlands’ fastest growing sector, employing close to 100,000 people. Some of the region’s most innovative businesses will showcase their products at the day-long Roadshow, including electric vehicles, energy system solutions and construction technologies and products.
Through a range of panel sessions, workshops, roundtables and the product expo, delegates will gain a unique glimpse of the innovations and thinking that make the West Midlands the Home of the Green Industrial Revolution.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “The West Midlands was the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, but the advances it brought came at a heavy price for our planet.
“So, as the eyes of the world focus on the UK for leadership on climate action at COP26, the West Midlands is ready to face up to our moral responsibility and play our role in leading this change.
“Our #WM2041 goal to become a net zero region with the next two decades will be far from easy, particularly as it is a target that is well ahead of many others around the world. But with hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line, there is an economic imperative – as well as an environmental one - to get this done.
“I look forward to using COP26 to showcase the West Midlands, our ambitious plans, and the brilliant companies and innovations that make us the home of the Green Industrial Revolution.”
Cllr Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council and WMCA portfolio lead for environment and energy, will open the Regional Roadshow on November 11.
Cllr Courts said: “COP26 will help us understand the global challenges and solutions around climate change.
“Here in the West Midlands we are already taking action to address climate change and provide innovative solutions which the whole world can benefit from. Getting this right will protect our planet and generate major new jobs growth - creating a truly sustainable economy for all.”
The COP26 Regional Roadshow will provide opportunities for delegates to network and discuss the impact of this critical moment for our environment and is a must-see event for anyone unable to attend the summit in Glasgow.
Dan Storer, chief investment officer at the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s official investment promotion agency – said: “The West Midlands is garnering an international reputation for low-carbon technologies at pace. As we take our ideas and innovations out to industries around the world, now is the time to invite the world to us and showcase our investment opportunities as the Home of the Green Industrial Revolution.
“Our presence at COP26 and the upcoming regional roadshow provide a shop window for businesses to discover first-hand the green growth underway here, and how they can benefit.
“This event marks the first of many milestones where we will be putting our net-zero offer in the international spotlight, with further activity under our Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) set to engage more climate-conscious companies across the Commonwealth with what the region has to offer in the run up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”