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Led by the University of Birmingham, and working jointly with 14 regional and national partners, WM-Net Zero will produce a toolkit that can estimate the health and economic impacts of net zero policies, using air pollution as a determinant of health.

The toolkit will then be applied to evaluate net zero policies across the West Midlands region:

  • Decarbonising regional transport
  • Net-Zero Neighbourhoods (NZNs)
  • Energy innovation

Policymakers and other regional stakeholders will be able to see the likely health impacts of different net-zero policy options versus ‘business as usual’ scenarios. This will help them to design better net zero policies to maximize their co-benefits on air quality and health, and minimize their potential unintended consequences.

Vehicle telematics will be used, for example, to understand traffic characteristics and calculate vehicle emissions of air pollutants. By comparing data from different years, the team will track the progress of transport decarbonisation and calculate the health impacts of current policies.

The team will also use its mobile super-laboratory to measure pollutants and evaluate the effectiveness of net-zero neighbourhood demonstrators in reducing greenhouse and air pollutants, including the West Midland’s first NZN in Brockmoor, Dudley.

Prof Zongbo Shi, WM-Net Zero Project Lead, said: “When we start to design and implement net-zero policies because of their health benefits, rather than because we are required to by law, we start to see better outcomes.

Professor Zongbo Shi, WM-Net Zero Project Lead

Professor Zongbo Shi, WM-Net Zero Project Lead, said: “When we start to design and implement net-zero policies because of their health benefits, rather than because we are required to by law, we start to see better outcomes.

“In order to do that, we need comprehensive, robust data on what the likely health outcomes will be. This will enable us to contribute to net-zero policy decisions – and deliver transformative impacts across our region.”

The three-year project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, has been co-designed with University of Surrey, University of York, West Midlands Combined Authority,Sandwell Council, Solihull Council, Birmingham City Council, Dudley Council, Defra, UK100, Clean Air Fund, WSP and CERC.

WM Net Zero partners