Coventry was one of the first cities in the UK to produce a Climate Change Strategy. Back in 2012 the Council set a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the city by 27.5% by 2020. This target was achieved six years early in 2014 and the Council is now producing a new follow-on strategy.
The city is recognised internationally for its climate action and leadership and has been included on the “A list” in tackling climate change. To achieve this the city has had to have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target, published a climate action plan and completed a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards now and in the future.
Some of the things already implemented include:
- A Green Business Programme which was part funded by the European Union. This has helped businesses reduce their impact on the environment through funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy powered solutions. 213 companies have been supported since the Programme was launched and this has saved over 12,349 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
- The Green Business Network currently has 905 members including businesses, residents, local community groups, charities, universities, schools and training providers who share news on the latest green technologies, funding support and events covering topics on sustainability.
- The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is an innovative partnership between Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Warwick Manufacturing Group. It is an open access research facility which supports the transition of the UK to become a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for vehicle electrification.
- The London Road Waste to Energy plant converts the vast majority of waste that cannot be recycled, composted or re-used into energy, either as electricity or heat. It is estimated that the plant saves 27,808 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide being emitted to the atmosphere each year, compared with landfilling the residual waste and fossil fuel energy generation.
- For several years, the City has had a district heating system. The Heatline network supplies residual heat from the City’s Energy from Waste plant to public buildings including the Council House, Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry Cathedral, 1 Friargate and The Wave. This has resulted in approximately 8,000 MWh of heat delivered to these buildings each year and savings of approximately 1,100 tonnes of CO2 per year compared to the emissions that would result from using conventional gas boilers. Heatine has spare capacity which could be used to save emissions from Coventry University buildings if the university could be persuaded to join the scheme.
- Coventry was the UK’s first city with centrally controlled dimming street lighting. 28,700 new PFI lighting columns were installed between 2010 and 2015. All lighting columns are targeted downwards to reduce light pollution, and this has provided 38% energy reduction across the city saving just over 5,000 tonnes of carbon since 2012.
- The Council runs an Affordable Warmth Programmes which support disabled and low-income householders who are vulnerable to the adverse health effects of cold homes. Insulation and heating measures can be funded to reduce effects and help to alleviate fuel poverty.
- Coventry has installed 276 charge points for electric vehicles and has the second highest number of chargers of all UK cities outside of London.
- In September 2019, Coventry City Council launched the Go Electric Taxi scheme, to encourage drivers to move to electric vehicles. It provides incentives worth £2,768 to taxi drivers interested in making the switch to a cleaner vehicle to reduce air pollution in the City.
Projects and Plans for the future:
- Coventry was recently one of ten cities to be awarded funding for local smart energy projects from an open competition. The project, working with partners including the West Midland Combined Authority and the University of Warwick, will design a Regional Energy System Operator which will help the city to decarbonise and keep costs down.
- The Council is currently undertaking a feasibility study on renewable heat recovery systems from the sewer network and historic mine infrastructure within Coventry. This is part of a national Government plan to harness Britain’s hidden heating sources.
- Through Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the City Council is participating in a power assessment study. The study will identify power constraint ‘hotspots’ within the LEP area and outline initial solutions to solve constraints including innovative options which enable a more future-proofed power infrastructure to enable the region’s growth potential. The study is due to be completed in July 2020, after which the next phase is to develop solutions.
- The challenge of future mobility is being addressed by using battery technology to create a new very light rail (VLR) system in Coventry (the first one in the UK). The first demonstrator vehicle is estimated to be built and ready for testing in Autumn 2020.
- The Council is receiving £2.2 million of Government funding to invest in greener, cleaner buses for the city. 10 fully electric buses in collaboration with National Express will be fully operational by June 2020 on major routes that experience high levels of congestion such as Foleshill Road.
- Coventry City Council is seeking funding to enable businesses and organisations in the city to transport goods and provide services using electric vehicles (vans, cars and cargo bikes). A survey has recently been sent out to local businesses and organisations who are interested in making use of electric vehicles for a trial period.
- The Council is also looking for funding to deliver a ‘on the move charging’ Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer project and a multi-fuel energy centre in Coventry. This is still in its inception stage.
- Trials are taking place using recyclable materials, such as old vehicle tyres and plastic pellets in the tarmac of local roads, significantly reducing energy consumption and lowering the city’s carbon footprint.
Next steps and priorities for the future
The Council has appointed a new Head of Service to oversee and develop the new Climate Change Strategy 2020. This strategy will ensure that Coventry is at the forefront of low carbon innovation and that decarbonisation benefits the economy and ensures a sustainable, clean and green future for generations to come.
The Council is committed to continue to work with businesses to achieve the City’s climate goals and is planning to extend the Green Business Programme and to make the most of other recent funding opportunities within the sustainable agenda.
Coventry City Council has recently submitted a planning application for the development of a Materials Recycling Facility that will serve Coventry, neighbouring authorities and regional businesses. The proposed 175,000 tonne capacity facility will increase recycling and reduce carbon emissions.
The Council has committed additional resource through the 2020/2021 budget process to deliver the Climate Change Strategy and implement actions coming through it.
We should be proud to be living in a city which is taking the lead on addressing climate change.