COP26 - what it means for Birmingham

Cllr Ian Ward discusses the COP26 conference in Glasgow and what Birmingham is doing to tackle the climate crisis

For the past two weeks, the eyes of the world have been on the COP26 conference in Glasgow as world leaders have gathered to set targets and reach agreements in the global fight against the climate emergency. It is hard to overstate the importance of these talks, and I hope that in years to come we will be able to look back at this fortnight as the critical moment where global leaders took decisive action and set us on the course to a brighter future.

Here in Birmingham, our work to tackle the climate emergency continues, and I am proud of the bold steps that Birmingham City Council is taking to reduce emissions in our city.

Our Route to Zero (R20) programme shows just how ambitious we are, as we aim to reach net carbon zero by 2030, or as soon after as a just transition allows. The R20 Action Plan sets out the steps that we will need to take to achieve our goals, and 41 Wave 1 projects are now underway.

These include ambitious building projects to ensure that the homes built by Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) meet the agreed environmental standards, and trialling Passivhaus and energy-saving technologies in housebuilding. This will see us build homes that are better insulated and use 80% less energy than traditionally built homes.

Plans are also underway to retrofit our existing stock of housing, ensuring that they are well insulated, making them greener, warmer and more pleasant to live in.

Transitioning to zero-carbon transport is a huge pillar of our climate work. The Birmingham Transport Plan, adopted in October, shows our ambition in changing the way that our 1.1 million citizens move around the city.

Over £1 billion is being invested in Birmingham in public transport, walking and cycling, which will help people to leave their cars at home and use other, more sustainable forms of transport. We are working to build a fully-integrated public transport system which will make journeys efficient, fast and cheap.

Just this week, we agreed a strategy to install electric vehicle 3,600 charging points across the city by 2032, helping motorists to make the switch away from petrol and diesel vehicles.

I am excited that 20 hydrogen buses are soon to join our fleet, which produce no tailpipe emissions and are an alternative to fully-electric vehicles. I want Birmingham to be a test-bed for hydrogen transport, and we are working with the Government to make this a reality, with the possibility of a further 200 hydrogen buses rolling into our city in the near future.

We should be proud of the steps that we have taken so far to tackle the Climate Crisis in Birmingham, whilst also acknowledging that we have a long way still to go. As COP26 concludes, I hope that the agreements and targets reached by global leaders will bring about the changes that we need to see. Meanwhile in local authorities up and down the country, we will continue to bring forward exciting solutions that will make our cities better places to live for all of us.

This blog was posted on 12 November 2021.

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