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Birmingham's Ambitious New Zero Carbon Policy: Property Prepares

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Birmingham Council is getting tough about its ambitious zero-carbon target for the city.

This week a task force has been appointed to guide the council’s aim to make the city carbon neutral by 2030.

The big questions are, can the target be met, what will the plan recommend, and what will be the implication for property?

Birmingham is already taking some significant steps. Trials of new green buses have begun, and it is playing a leading role in low emission vehicles.

However, some low-carbon schemes — like the Andy Bike bike-share scheme — have not been a success. A clean air zone has been planned but been subject to delays.

Birmingham’s zero-carbon target is appreciably sooner than that adopted by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has set a target to have zero carbon emissions by 2041. It also agreed to interim targets of a 36% reduction by 2022 and by 69% by 2027.

Birmingham’s target is also more ambitious than that of Manchester: Manchester City Council hopes its neighbourhood will become a zero carbon city by 2038.

Meeting such a target is sure to involve some hefty front-ended cuts to carbon emissions, with the transport, building and property sectors expected to be among the first under pressure to change.

Bruntwood aims to move to zero carbon by 2030 in line with the Birmingham target and have an immediate target of achieving a 10% reduction in its carbon intensity compared to its 2017-18 baseline. Bruntwood is introducing science-based targets across the business for scope one emissions (direct emissions from things like air conditioning) and scope two emissions (indirect emissions as a result of energy purchasing) in April 2019 and will start to look at its scope three emissions (which means emissions from the supply chain, upstream or downstream) from June 2019 onward.

So far Birmingham’s efforts to re-gear to become a low carbon economy could go further. The UK Powerhouse analysis is published by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic & Business Research and comes as West Midlands Mayor Andy Street attempts to step up the low carbon efforts in two large carbon-emissions sectors, property and transport.

Birmingham reduced its year-on-year figure by 6.4% putting it in 16th place among UK cities, with 3.7 kilotonnes of CO2 per person.

The launch of the Birmingham Route to Zero (R20) Taskforce follows a cross-party declaration of a climate emergency by Birmingham City Council in June, and a declaration on climate change in July.

The cross-party and multi-agency taskforce will be chaired by councillor Waseem Zaffar, the council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, and will also include representation from Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors, while an invitation is going out to the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from faith communities and the business, health, education and third sectors to join the task force. 

The group will meet next month and present an outline plan and key actions to full council in January.