Midlands: As part of its national tour, the UK’s Zero Carbon Battle Bus has stopped off in Birmingham to highlight the importance of tackling climate change and demonstrate some of the things that can be done to help save the planet.
The bus, the UK’s first fully electric Carbon Battle Bus, is travelling across the country in the lead-up to the UK hosting the United Nation’s COP26 event in Glasgow in November. Delivered by internationally renowned sustainability organisation, Planet Mark, in collaboration with the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, and private sector partners including Prologis and the Institute of Directors, the event in Birmingham was organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Midlands Energy Hub.
The visit included presentations and talks by some of the region’s businesses about the efforts they’re making to reduce their carbon emissions, as well as discussing some of the challenges we’ll all face.
The Zero Carbon electric bus was accompanied on Centenary Square by one of Birmingham City Council’s own electric double-deckers, and one of its hydrogen-powered buses, both operated by National Express. Members of the public were able to learn more about the technology behind this transport of the future which will lower emissions and improve air quality. While the buses were on display, Planet Mark, and businesses from across the region held an interactive session in the Library of Birmingham, to explore new solutions to the climate challenge and share best practice. The session was also streamed online and case studies from the event will be shared with central government as part of the UK presidency of COP26.
Councillor Ian Courts WMCA portfolio lead for Environment and Energy and leader of Solihull Council said: “The battle bus visit provided an opportunity to see inspiring projects being undertaken by organisations across the UK to reduce their carbon emissions. They show what is possible and will hopefully inspire local businesses to consider what actions they can take to help us achieve our target of #WM2041
“We all need to play a part in creating a sustainable future for the region and the UK. Hopefully the visit will let more people understand what net zero carbon really means, why it is important, and how individuals and organisations can help our region become net zero by 2041.”
The hydrogen bus on display is part of a fleet of 20 which are set to be in operation in Birmingham later this year. The new buses were bought by Birmingham City Council to help kick-start the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel and help reach the WMCA’s net zero carbon target #WM2041 – to be carbon net zero by 2041.
Transport for West Midlands, which is part of the WMCA, has submitted a bid to Government for £55m funding to support the most ambitious hydrogen bus project ever seen. In partnership with National Express West Midland(s?) this will see 200 new hydrogen double decker buses and 24 articulated buses come into operation on our streets, as well as the installation of refuelling facilities, over the next two years. Coventry is also set to become the UK’s first all electric bus city by 2025.
One of the organisations attending the event, and a core partner of the Zero Carbon Tour, was Prologis UK. Martin Cooper, vice president, project management and a member of the Prologis UK sustainability team said: “The Zero Carbon Tour is spreading a hugely important message about the role businesses and individuals play in helping the UK meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets and we are proud to sponsor this initiative.
“All new Prologis buildings in the UK have been net zero carbon in construction for the past 13 years thanks to our relationship with The Planet Mark and during the event, it was encouraging to see that the Midlands is a thriving centre for businesses who are committed to reducing their impact on the environment.”
The tour is designed to empower British firms and their employees to become part of a greater national effort to protect the environment by demystifying what is needed to achieve net zero. It also aims to highlight the good work many companies are already doing to address their carbon output.
The Zero Carbon Tour is part of the UK’s contribution to the United Nation’s ‘Race to Zero’ campaign. It is being coordinated by Kwasi Kwarteng’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department working with Regional and Local Authorities, Planet Mark, the Institute of Directors, and others. It is the Government’s flagship campaign to raise awareness among the business community about the urgent need for firms to cut their carbon emissions.
Steve Malkin, founder and CEO of Planet Mark, said: “We are delighted to have visited Birmingham and collaborated with the West Midlands Combined Authority on this Zero Carbon Tour flagship event as part of the Together For Our Planet campaign in the build up to COP26.
“It was a great opportunity to talk in-person and virtually with businesses and residents from across the region about how all organisations, no matter their size, can contribute to the fight against climate change by committing to net zero carbon. In the Race to Zero we can all play a part in our planet’s future”.
The battle bus is the latest initiative by the WMCA to help achieve its target of #WM2041. Earlier this month the Natural Environment Plan was launched which sets out the actions to enhance the region’s biodiversity, protect endangered species, and improve access to green spaces and waterways for residents.
In addition, the WMCA is calling for investment in a West Midlands electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the government’s upcoming levelling up white paper in October.
To find out more about upcoming events in the West Midlands in the countdown to COP26 in Glasgow, visit the WMCA’s COP26 website www.wmca.org.uk/cop26