Climate Reporter Elliot Parker received the following document from Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member Jobs and Regeneration
Coventry – facing the challenge of climate change and sustainability as an opportunity for future prosperity
The Council has a major role to play in not only setting an example for others to follow but mobilising all that live and work in the city to embrace the challenges that climate change and delivering a sustainable future presents us. This is not seen as a threat but more as an opportunity. We have the opportunity to position ourselves as a leading city in a global market.
Coventry has a strong history of inventiveness and creativity with a successful track record in adapting to change and this is just another exciting chapter in that history. Coventry City Council recognises that meeting what must be the greatest global challenge it has yet to face needs a co- ordinated partnership approach not only engaging departments across the Council but also in partnership with its citizens, voluntary organisations, public agencies and businesses.
The city needs to develop new ways of working and use of technology which not only protect the environment and the health of its citizens but provides us with a unique opportunity to become a market leader and showcase the new products and technologies of the future which use our natural resources efficiently, protect biodiversity and minimise pollution and waste. The city needs to set itself the highest standards in order to act as an exemplar to stimulate stakeholders to follow its example. Projects and initiatives which capture the imagination and demonstrate our commitment combined with a communications plan will ensure we highlight and celebrate the city’s successes and commitments to addressing the challenges we face not only to the people of Coventry, our potential stakeholders and the world at large.
The Council has a critical role to play: as its policies can shape future development; its use of regulatory and enforcement powers protect the environment; its potential to use fiscal measures to incentivise and steer more positive sustainable behaviours amongst the populace, as a major land owner and custodian of the city’s natural and cultural heritage; as a service provider delivering essential services mindful of potential impacts upon the environment and sustainability; as a big customer using its purchasing power to influence the provision of products and services in a more sustainable way; as an enabler and an influencer working in partnership with others to secure funding or attract in kind support; intelligence and connections to help create new opportunities for social enterprise, wealth creation and employment for the people of Coventry.
Coventry is ideally placed with two leading universities, some major employers with key interests in delivering a sustainable future, a wealth of entrepreneurs developing new products and services and thriving enthusiastic communities with a spirit of social enterprise.
The Council aims to pull together all those with the talents and experience to build the new future in a post COVID-19 world to deliver net-zero emissions and to limit the damages from climate change.
The Council will invite key stakeholder to set up an independent ‘Sustainable Development Commission’ to address the major challenges of climate change and loss of biodiversity. The UN set up 17 clear sustainable development goals, a number of which the Council is making great strides in delivering. Coventry’s Sustainable Development Commission should follow those guiding principles as they are the ones which are driving not only national policies but have also been adopted by many major corporations in guiding the work they do in addressing Climate Change, loss of biodiversity pollution and other issues of local and global concern. In addition, it is also worth noting that the Business & Sustainable Development Commission estimates embracing these goals would be equivalent to generating 12 trillion US dollars a year that is 10% of the global GDP forecast by 2030.
Addressing these issues is not only imperative to delivering a sustainable future and maintaining a healthy and prosperous economy but also provides a significant opportunity for enhancing our quality of life creating new jobs and employment.
We will need to focus our collective efforts for:
- Supporting the development and use of new energy efficient zero carbon technologies for homes and businesses across the city
- Reducing congestion and air pollution by promoting new methods of mass transit and supporting modal shift including encouraging healthier forms of active transport
- Creating quality urban and green spaces that enhance biodiversity and help to create a greater sense of place
- Addressing the needs of those on low incomes with affordable access to: a) employment locations, services and facilities, b) quality housing c) heating and lighting and d) local fresh food and healthy diets
- Managing waste and recovering energy from waste including the encouragement of re-use and recycling of materials
- Raising awareness and understanding of sustainability issues and its importance to life in the city, working with cultural institutions in stimulating major shifts in attitude amongst all in society living and working across the city. Creating a positive culture which encourages fundamental changes in behaviour and projects an image of Coventry as an attractive healthy sustainable city to be proud of
- Actively supporting businesses in Coventry and attracting inward investment for those companies which focus on the development of environmental technologies or by promoting better standards and practices for environmental management in order to produce goods and services in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way
Much of this work will be focusing on:
- New ways of working to minimise impacts upon the environment and climate change
- Land use planning and policies for shaping the future sustainable development of the City and its infrastructure
- Stimulating and incentivising more sustainable long-term behaviour and lifestyle changes amongst the populace including fiscal measures such as differences in fees and charges
- The use of purchasing power with environmental criteria to inform future procurement of goods and services from organisations which adhere more closely to sustainability objectives
- Investing in initiatives which promote the future development of a well-designed liveable City, the use of renewables to reduce emissions and manage the social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change creating new jobs and supporting economic development
- Monitoring and reporting progress with open and honest sharing of information across sectors relating to impacts of activities on the environment and sustainability
- Ensuring policies, programmes and initiatives delivering sustainability do not disproportionately affect or burden those on low incomes and that they have access to skills and job opportunities
- Mass communications to promote local participation in positive action and cultural change across the city
- Connecting, enabling and facilitating partnerships for driving real practical lasting inspirational change towards a more sustainable future
As the City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games approach, Coventry has a major opportunity to launch itself as a showcase for delivering environmental technologies, goods and services to a global audience.
Coventry will act a shop window for the goods and services it produces. Tried and tested in Coventry and available for other cities across the world, creating new market opportunities in a global economy. The development of environmental technologies is growing significantly and the drive to find alternatives to fossil fuels, reduce waste and improve the efficiency of use of raw materials is increasing across all business sectors in order to meet customer demands and enhance competitiveness.
The Council will need to bring together stakeholders from across the city, the region and beyond to build a vision for the future. Everyone has a role to play in shaping the city’s brave new future. There are many organisations we would like to see actively engaged with the City’s Commission contributing to the wider sustainability agenda with local action on the ground and the development of new approaches, innovative products and services for the benefit of those working and living in the city.
Addressing climate change needs to be done in partnership – with all stakeholders across the city. Our aim is to bring people together to re-align resources and to maximise the prospect of achieving our desired outcomes.
We are adopting this approach with our ambitious RESO project – a partnership with utility providers, the universities and the Council looking at the most efficient ways of generating, supplying and distributing energy across the city in order to lower costs to consumers, including local residents on low incomes.
In addition to seeking inward investment off the back of our green credentials we will work to attract inward investment in the global market. The Council plays a key role in a very important region and will be working with stakeholders to actively lobby the Government in a post Brexit world for resources and incentives to meet our ambitious but important targets.