Observatory low carbon team update: June 2010

Black and white illustration representing an environmently friendly economyOpportunities for businesses in the low carbon economy have been the main focus of the team in recent weeks. We’ve also been producing our annual raft of monitoring work looking at all aspects of sustainable development and climate change.

Low carbon economy

Back in March, we published our report into the opportunites for growth into a low carbon economy in the West Midlands.

The research suggested that, in the West Midlands, sectors with prospects for growth into the low carbon economy include automotive & transport equipment, construction and public services amongst others.

The report highlights a number of potential low carbon opportunities. The manufacture of products for low carbon buildings is one, through providing insulation products, technical tiles and ceramics, and prefabricated building elements for construction.

The scrap metal and recycling industry will also be presented with a number of low carbon opportunities in vehicle recycling, where legislation will mean that, in the future, more parts of new cars will need to be recyclable.

Following on from the regional study, we were commissioned by the City Region to produce a more detailed study into the opportunities from the low carbon economy at City Region level with detailed profiles for each of the constituent local authorities. Again, we worked with Atkins to do this.

A really positive picture emerges with real opportunities for creating growth in existing sectors. As well as creating new jobs, diversification into low carbon technologies will help safeguard existing jobs.

The report (pdf, 968kb) identifies some barriers that may prevent capitalising on opportunities. The real positive is that many of these barriers have solutions well within City Region or local authorities’ influence. Once clear example is the need for relevant low carbon skills.

John Polychronakis, Chief Executive of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and the Chair of the City Region Climate Change Group, welcomed the report saying:

‘It will be very influential indeed as it will form a very central part of our local economic assessment.’

This work could be extended to include the other local authorities in the region to support them in developing their Local Economic Assessments.

Monitoring reports

We published several monitoring reports last month, including:

Excel datasets used to produce the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions reports are also available. We included, when available, data at local authority level which can help inform Local Economic Assessments.

Some key facts emerge from these reports.

The level of CO2 emissions per capita has declined between 2005 and 2007 across all regions. However, the West Midlands had the lowest reduction (same as Greater London), only 1.3 per cent.

In the West Midlands, the regional index of sustainable economic well-being accounted for 73% of GVA in 1994 compared to only 66% in 2007. This shows that overall well-being as calculated by the index is not increasing as fast as GVA in both absolute and relative terms.

Overall greenhouse gas emissions from industries decreased between 1998 and 2007. Most industries in the West Midlands are less polluting than they were in 1998. The only exceptions were transport and communication, and construction, where emissions grew by 2.5% a year on average.

The West Midlands is utilising 44% of its renewable energy capacity. This is the third lowest of the English regions. The proportion utilised has declined since 2006.

Forthcoming projects

We’re currently scoping out further projects to enhance the region’s understanding of the opportunities from the low carbon economy. These include potential opportunities within the impact investment locations and analysis of supply chain opportunities.

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