Express & Star

Liam Byrne: West Midlands must declare a 'climate emergency'

A Mayoral hopeful says the West Midlands needs to declare a "climate emergency" as he revealed that not a single local authority in the region had set a target date for going carbon neutral.

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Liam Byrne is bidding to be Labour's candidate for West Midlands Mayor

Liam Byrne MP has today published research showing that no West Midlands councils have outlined plans to reduce dangerous emissions, which is aimed at limiting the impact of global warming.

Mr Byrne, who is bidding to be Labour's candidate for West Midlands Mayor, was today due to set out radical plans for a "green revolution" across the region, which he says will help halve youth unemployment and lift thousands out of energy poverty.

According to his report, one in five people in the UK live in areas where councils have set target dates for going carbon neutral – and he wants the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area to do the same.

He said: “We led the industrial revolutions from the Steam Age to the Jet Age. Now it's time we stepped up to lead the green revolution.

“Halting a climate catastrophe is not just a huge challenge – it is a massive opportunity.

"At a time when youth unemployment is sky-rocketing in the West Midlands, we need a bold new economic vision for our region as a pioneer: creating jobs for our young people, lifting families out of fuel poverty and radically expanding renewable energy co-ops.

"We led these economic changes before. It's time we did it again.”

Mr Byrne says he wants the WMCA to become the UK’s first zero-carbon city-region by 2037. His proposals include halving youth unemployment with 20,000 new jobs in retrofitting homes and installing solar and wind power-generation technology.

He also plans to end fuel poverty for 300,000 families, double the pace of building a new generation of green council homes, make the WMCA the UK’s first 'real living wage region', and launch a Green Energy Cooperative for the region.

Andy Street, the Conservative West Midlands Mayor, said the region could be a pioneer for climate change.

"Over five years the West Midlands has succeeded in reducing carbon emissions by 18 per cent while improving economic output by 23 per cent," he said.

"We have the knowledge and expertise to lead the fight on climate change."

Less than one third of the population live in a council area that has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 – the date set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by which net emissions must stop to prevent a global climate disaster.