Collaboration across all sectors – including the different civil engineering sectors – is essential to the West Midlands reaching its ambitious net zero target, said ICE President Rachel Skinner.
Skinner heard how the region is tackling climate change and working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2041 as part of her two-day virtual visit to the area in January.
She said: “I have been really impressed with both the energy and appetite to tackle climate change in the region. I was delighted to see the clear commitment to – and understanding of - the regional aim to reach net zero carbon by 2041, ahead of the UK legally binding target of 2050.
“It is clear from all the events that collaboration – particularly between the private and public sector and with communities - is vital if we are all to start making a real difference. I do hope that by bringing key people together during my visit and encouraging fresh debate, we are helping to lay the foundations for continuing close working and partnership.”
Shaping Zero - The film
The visit, themed around Skinner’s Presidential Address theme Shaping Zero, comprised three open events, attracting ICE members and delegates from across the region, as well as some closed roundtable discussions with infrastructure leaders and senior stakeholders.
Everyone agreed that providing more accessible sustainable public transport and reshaping cities will be fundamental to changing behaviour. However, a more holistic and inclusive approach was considered the correct approach, as every community has its own unique existing infrastructure and needs.
Participants also agreed that there is already much work being done in individual sectors at a local level, but that there is a serious opportunity to improve cross-sector discussions and best practice sharing to ensure that limited funding is utilised in the best possible way to tackle climate change.
The future of transport
At a panel debate about how digital tools influence the design and construction decisions in strategic decarbonisation projects in the region, smart infrastructure and the future of transport in the region were both discussed in detail.
As the West Midlands continues to grow, so does the need to reduce the environmental and social impact of the growing population. Sustainable transport must be accessible, connected and offer a compelling alternative to single occupancy car travel.
The planned Birmingham Clean Air Zone project was highlighted as a regional initiative aiming to help achieve net zero carbon emissions.
The visit finished with a webinar about the ‘Decarbonising Coventry’ project, presented by the Energy Capital and University of Birmingham, which discussed the idea behind the West Midlands Regional Energy System Operator (RESO) project, focusing on delivering low carbon energy to the city of Coventry.
Gbenga Oludotun, ICE West Midlands Regional Chair, said: “We were delighted to welcome the ICE President, Rachel Skinner, and showcase the incredible civil engineering projects and initiatives going on across the region to help reduce carbon emissions.
“I was pleased we could show Rachel how civil engineers in our region already use many new technologies to ensure delivery of more sustainable infrastructure and decarbonise the West Midlands. This is key to our aim of creating a greener, healthier and more sustainable West Midlands.”
Watch again online
Recordings from the following open events will be made available to watch online: