The West Midlands was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, over 200 years ago, and now, as we embark on the start of a new industrial revolution – the green industrial revolution – I want the West Midlands to be leading the charge.
That’s why I’ve set an ambitious target for the West Midlands to reach net-zero by 2041. This is 9 years earlier than the UK’s own net-zero target, and I believe our region can rise to the challenge. Some have challenged me on why we haven’t set an even earlier target, but I want net-zero to be about opportunity, not closing doors. Net-zero will not only be good for our health and environment, but it can also be good for our economy, for local businesses, and for jobs.
We have some amazing innovators and inventors here in the West Midlands, whether it be in our great local businesses like Cadent, in our universities and research institutes, in local government, or even in the spare room at home. Decarbonising the West Midlands will require their help, but it also presents some amazing opportunities for these brilliant minds.
I want the region to be leading the way, showing other parts of the country, and indeed the world, how to do it. I want us to be the home of green investment here in the UK, which is why I was delighted to be able to announce that are proposing Coventry Airport as the site for a new Giga-factory. I want our young people to be first in line for the new wave of green jobs that will be open to them, which is why I have supported the High-Speed Rail college in Birmingham. I want our transport system to be the greenest it can be, which is why I’m working to create an integrated public transport network, and one that is powered by green technology, such as electricity or hydrogen.
That’s why it was great to be with Coventry-based Cadent yesterday, meeting their West Midlands team, learning about their plans to decarbonise the gas grid and how they are helping to unlock green transport options here in the region. But it was also important that I was able to hear about what net-zero means to the workforce – to the gas engineers, to the delivery drivers, to the office staff. How will decarbonisation impact their commute, the training they undertake, the bills they pay? How can we ensure that decarbonisation works for everyone?
I’m really pleased that Cadent share my vision for a greener West Midlands, and I know that they will play a crucial role in helping us get to net-zero. I was therefore delighted to be able to announce, alongside them yesterday morning, that we have declared the West Midlands as the first Net Zero Pathfinder region – a move which will boost jobs, and accelerate our ambition for a green industrial revolution and a net zero economy, in which everyone can participate. I look forward to working with Cadent to make this happen.
To find out more about the West Milands Net Zero plan: https://www.wmca.org.uk/news/west-midlands-sets-out-net-zero-pathfinder-plans/