New Fit for the Future articles published: what’s your vision of a low carbon future?

Fit for the Future: what's your vision of a low carbon future? Join in the debate.

We’ve launched a new website as part of our Fit for the Future project. Earlier this year we asked:

In your view, what would a successful low carbon economy look like and how should the West Midlands transform its economy to meet that vision?

The new website presents five articles given in response, written by contributors working in manufacturing, local government, education, public and voluntary sectors.

We want the articles to stimulate a debate so, this year, we decided to present the articles in an online commentable form. Please do visit the website, have a read and add your comments to the articles.

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Efficient use of water – a great opportunity

Blog Action Day 2010 water

Once more the West Midlands Regional Observatory joins Blog Action Day. This is an annual event held every 15 October and unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year’s topic is water.

Our low carbon research has highlighted that the greatest opportunities for moving towards a low carbon economy are related to ‘decarbonising’ the current business processes. In other words, have more efficient processes in place. This can be achieved either through using resources more efficiently (for example water, electricity and raw materials) or by reducing the amount of waste produced.

Businesses in the West Midlands are already taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are a few examples of companies using water more efficiently.

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How can small and medium businesses prepare against climate change?

Burst banks of River Severn amid flooding in Worcester

Photo: Worcester bridge by Russell Trow

Climate change has an impact on businesses. Flooding, hot summers, droughts and severe storms and winds can damage business premises and disrupt suppliers and customers.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Business directly impacted by the 2007 floods took an average of 26 weeks to return to normal operating capacity. Some small businesses can take up to two years to recover from a flood – and some do not survive.
  • Rail commuters in Birmingham endured extensive delays on 17 July 2006 as the extreme heat caused railway lines to buckle. Many services from New Street Station in Birmingham had to be cancelled and some passengers had to wait more than two hours.
  • The flooding in July 2007 was caused by a month’s rainfall in 1–2 hours and caused interruptions to electricity and water supplies, and significant disruption to road and rail networks.
  • After the flooding in June and July 2007, insurers received 165,000 claims in the UK, estimated to total £3bn in insured damages. Economic and social costs were far higher, as not all costs to businesses can be insured.

The West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Partnership knows that it is crucial that businesses understand the consequences of climate change. This is why they released a practical guide explaining how small and medium businesses in the West Midlands can save and make money from climate change (pdf, 357kb).

Planning and being prepared are the way forward as opposed to just reacting whenever disaster hits. This will allow businesses to save money in the long term, continue operations in spite of the weather and identify potential business opportunities.

The guide provides a series of questions that business should consider around:

  • Insurance
  • Premises
  • People
  • Utilities
  • Information technology and security of data
  • Suppliers, logistics and delivery and products
  • Processes, stock and raw materials
  • Agricultural and horticultural rural business
  • Emergency contacts and important documents

The guide also provides examples of opportunities for small businesses, useful tools and contact details of regional support available.

Photo credit: Worcester bridge by Russell Trow.

Job opportunity: SCPnet

The Environment Agency are looking to second a suitable individual for a period of 3-6 months to help strengthen the SCPnet (Sustainable consumption and production network) and secure its long term future.

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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.

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Speed dating: bringing the Regional Data & Intelligence Network together

Attendees at all-group networking eventLast Friday, for the first time in its history, we brought together all the groups associated with the Regional Data and Intelligence Network. Members of the Economy & Labour Force, Population & Society, Environment and Geographical Information groups met, with the aim of drawing the network closer together and identifying common areas of work.

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How Sustainability West Midlands are using low carbon economy research

Here’s a short video with Dr Simon Slater, Executive Director at Sustainability West Midlands.

Local authority and business leaders in the West Midlands were asking Simon ‘what are the risks and what are the opportunities in the low carbon economy?’

In this video, Simon discusses how working with the Observatory to research and evidence regional growth into a low carbon economy is helping his organisation and partners in the region answer such questions.

(Watch the video on Viddler.com)