Tackling climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The Paris agreement has set a path for limiting global warming to within 2 degrees, but the challenge remains immense. Britain has been in the vanguard and reduced its carbon emissions by more than 40% so far, through policies including the 2008 Climate Change Act, curtailing its coal generation, and developing the world’s largest off-shore wind capacity.
The next steps are more difficult, however, because we now need to expand our efforts from electricity to heat and transport, which are inherently harder to decarbonise. One of the most striking trends in clean energy over the past decade has been its localisation. All over the world, municipalities are increasingly active in clean energy innovation. And with good reason: many of the technical challenges of decarbonising heat and transport are inherently local.
On Wednesday 28 March a new West Midlands Regional Energy Policy Commission chaired by Sir David King and supported by a panel of expert commissioners from industry, academia and policy unveiled their report, Powering West Midlands Growth – A regional approach to clean energy innovation [PDF 21MB]. This report makes the case for the creation of Energy Innovation Zones (EIZs) in Central Birmingham and Tyseley, UK Central in Solihull, the Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire. These pilots will act as the as pathfinders for an approach that might subsequently be adopted across the country as a whole.