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GREEN FOR GO

01-12-2009

Birmingham city council is throwing down the eco-gauntlet with a new initiative on climate change. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Wolverhampton can celebrate winning national recognition for their green efforts.

Birmingham City Council has set a precedent to local authorities across the UK by announcing its intention to publish the Birmingham Declaration on climate change.

The declaration, set to be put before councillors today, will underline the city’s ambition to be at the forefront of the effort nationally and internationally to tackle issues around sustainability.

Underpinning the declaration is a plan to use the council’s purchasing power and influence as a vehicle to stimulate green initiatives which will provide significant employment opportunities for Birmingham’s people and reduce energy bills for citizens and businesses alike.

The declaration – which it is hoped will be adopted by other councils across the UK – states that by 2015:

  • All vehicles procured by the council should be electrically powered or run on liquefied petroleum gas. There will be at least 500 electric cars running on the streets of the city as Birmingham develops its electric charging infrastructure
  • 50% of electricity used by the council should be generated from renewable sources
  • The city council’s energy consumption will be reduced by 25%
  • 10% of Birmingham homes will be linked to district heating systems
  • 10% of Birmingham homes will have retrofit insulation  
  • There will be at least ten low carbon communities similar to the successful example of Summerfield Eco-neighbourhood

It is envisaged that the declaration will help Birmingham meet its target of reducing CO2 levels in the city by 60% by 2026 when compared to 1990 levels. The declaration will also be promoted to delegates from around the world at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen next month.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham over the last few years has developed a strong reputation as a national leader on the issues of climate change and sustainability.

“We are now seeking to take that onto the next level with the Birmingham Declaration which we think other local authorities could adopt in part or whole as they attempt to tackle environmental matters. This declaration can give manufacturers the confidence to invest in green technologies, to develop new products and to create fresh employment opportunities that would have never existed before.

“By achieving the objectives we have set, we will significantly reduce carbon emissions and make Birmingham a cleaner and greener city”

Meanwhile, the efforts of Wolverhampton City Council staff to help reduce the authority’s impact on climate change have been recognised with an excellence award.  The council is the first local authority in the Midlands – and one of only 18 across the UK – to be awarded the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard.

The standard is a mark of excellence and recognises the real action organisations are taking to reduce their direct impact on climate change. The council has reduced its CO2 emissions by just over 225 tonnes over the last three years. Some of the initiatives the council has recently undertaken include:

  • Upgrading the Civic Centre boiler.  
  • Rebuilding St Luke’s School in Blakenhall has saved CO2 emissions through the use of a ventilation system which requires no energy to run, and underfloor heating from a woodchip biomass boiler.
  • Installing solar heating for hot water and the swimming pool at Penn Hall School, low energy lighting at the Grand Theatre and new swimming pool covers at Smestow School.

The council's Energy Efficiency Project Board chairman Kevin Moore said: “The Carbon Trust Standard shows people which organisations they can trust to have genuinely acted on climate change and are committed to ongoing CO2 emission reductions.

“It shows that we are at the forefront when it comes to tackling climate change and have taken action ourselves by reducing carbon emissions for which we are directly responsible.

“To retain the Carbon Trust Standard we are required to keep reducing our carbon footprint and we will be assessed every two years. This means we have to continue the great work and all keep reducing our impact on the environment.”

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