Key business leaders in the West Midlands joined Mayor Andy Street to discuss the region’s transition to net-zero and the contribution this could make to tackling the cost-of-living crisis.
The Coalition was launched last year by NatWest and brings a group of organisations from different sectors together to address the key issues to meeting net zero, with a particular focus on reducing carbon emissions from homes and buildings.
The event, which was the first Coalition meeting in the West Midlands, focused on exploring collaborative approaches to improve energy efficiency in the region’s homes and buildings. The group discussed the benefits of taking a consumer-centric approach to energy efficiency in relation to the current concerns over the cost-of-living.
The West Midlands Combined Authority has pledged to become a net-zero carbon authority by 2041, including supporting the region to transition to more environmentally friendly homes and promoting cleaner, greener transport options.
Representatives from NatWest, British Gas, Worcester Bosch and Shelter and the University of Warwick, agreed that collaboration at a local level is key to meeting targets, with discussions covering a range of issues and ideas.
The consensus was that energy efficiency is a near-term, and sustainable, solution to the wider problem of rising energy prices across the UK. By reducing consumption levels, while investing in energy security, UK households can reduce the amount they spend on energy while moving towards a net-zero future.
However, barriers remain, including a lack of availability of skilled labour to install and fit new technology into existing housing stock and a lack of consumer understanding about the available technology. There is also a need for financing solutions to retrofit the UK’s homes and build the net-zero homes of the future.
As well as the roundtable discussion, attendees also heard about the innovative clean transport solutions being developed by local entrepreneurs based in the Accelerator Hub.
“The current energy price crisis means we must change our policy and approach to energy. The focus for the long term is rightly on renewable sources, but in the near term the approach needs to shift towards ideas such as energy efficiency, as consistent Government subsidies is not a sustainable solution for the country to the current energy crisis.
“As Mayor of the West Midlands, I’m delighted to be expanding our own retrofit programme to nearly 1,300 households that are most in need in the region, in order to support them with their energy bills, as well as driving towards net-zero. However, private sector innovation is needed in order to support everyday consumers with the cost of energy. The work of the coalition, and their drive to put energy efficiency on the agenda to address the current energy crisis is exciting, as I believe this agenda is of critical importance to not only our short-term concerns but our longer term energy security.”West Midlands Mayor Andy Street
“We founded the Coalition as we strongly believe that partnerships and collaboration at a local level are vital if we are to achieve the UK’s net-zero target of 2050, so we’re delighted to have been able to bring together like-minded organisations and to have had the support of Mayor Andy Street at the event.
“It is so important that the drive towards net-zero is not overshadowed by the challenges of today’s environment. Today’s discussion set out clearly how energy-efficient homes and buildings are the best, short-term measure for combatting rising energy prices and one of the most important steps on our journey to net-zero.”John Maude, Chair of Midlands & East regional board at NatWest
“Innovation and change is vital to the development of new ways of approaching our societal challenges. The University of Warwick, and the wider Warwick Innovation District are proud to be working with NatWest and a variety of partners in seeking solutions to the challenges. Through initiatives like the Clean Transport Accelerator we can help companies capitalise on the opportunities associated with the emerging clean transport supply chain and enable growth through innovation.”David Plumb, Chief Innovation Officer, at the University of Warwick