Partners from across the Midlands have come together to discuss initiatives, infrastructure and investment in the green economy at the first step towards commitments to 100% clean energy by 2050.
Organised by UK:100, a consortium of local authority leaders from across the country, ‘Financing Energy in the Midlands’ saw stakeholders from local authorities, business, and finance and community energy groups meet with the aim of putting forward proposals to transform the local economy. The event was held in Leicester and facilitated by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited and opened by Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
UK:100 – a network of ambitious local government leaders includes Leicester and Leicestershire Councils. The event also looked beyond energy to wider issues like housing and transport as part of local Climate Emergency Declarations targeting carbon neutrality by 2030. These commitments are supported by the LLEP and other local partners who were present at the event.
The current situation in the energy industry must be addressed if the UK is to meet legally-binding energy emissions targets by 2050. This means massive investment in the green economy, in transport networks and in renewable energy.
Leicester and Leicestershire is set for rapid change as part of these commitments and this is highlighted through the LLEP’s Energy Infrastructure Strategy which sets out targets for investment that will reduce the region’s carbon emissions whilst simultaneously creating jobs and prosperity in the emerging green economy.
However, the climate emergency requires more than just public policy to address it. Private finance, innovative public/private partnerships and community energy schemes will be needed in order to create the scale and participation needed. The UK: 100 event saw major partners Siemens, Octopus Energy and SSE in attendance. The goal was to demonstrate that while great strides are being made, far more needs to be done to ensure Leicester and Leicestershire is equipped to implement an holistic energy strategy for a low carbon future which also wins hearts and minds.
Polly Billington, Director of UK: 100 said: “Today’s event is about talking to stakeholders about transforming our whole economy, so that we can be net-zero by 2050. That requires access to private finance – we don’t want to be spending just taxpayers’ money.
“We need to make sure that people who know how to make money invest in our communities, so that we can transform our homes, the way we move around, our economy and our businesses. We need to ensure that we’re no longer damaging the planet and endangering our future, but instead making sure we have strong, resilient communities with better jobs and more clean, reliable energy.”
A common charge against the push to invest in green technologies and alternative energy sources is that such commitments will be incredibly costly. However, this ignores the potential of the green economy to instigate a new economic boom, as thousands of jobs in green manufacturing, engineering, construction, infrastructure, and transportation are created.
Andy Rose, LLEP Economic Strategy Manager, said: “The green economy is one of the key sectors that the LLEP is looking to invest in in the coming years. It is of vital importance that we work together with business, community and the public sector to push low carbon initiatives.
“The benefits to our environment and the wider world are obvious, as we reduce emissions and shrink our carbon footprint. But the economic benefits for Leicester and Leicestershire are potentially enormous, as we create jobs in newly emerging industries, and invest in businesses that are at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency.”
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