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Staying at home more will help with climate fight, West Midlands Authority says

Transport Xtra

The West Midlands Combined Authority wants people to stay at home more even after Covid-19, in order to help fight climate change.

The WMCA’s first five-year decarbonisation plan, prepared by consultant WSP, sets targets for reductions in commuting, shopping and personal trips.

The plan aims to set the conurbation on the pathway to achieving net zero emissions by 2041 (six per cent of emissions would be offset).

WMCA officers were this week recommending that the combined authority board endorses WSP’s recommendation of an “accelerated pathway” that will cut carbon dioxide emissions to 8.1 million tonnes by 2026, 33 per cent below a 2016 baseline.

Describing the pathway as “highly ambitious”, the plan nonetheless says:

“‘accelerated’ scenario is recommended to be used as the standard to set the delivery goal ambitions.

“The change in delivery pace required is huge and unprecedented. It requires collaboration and delivery across all sectors well beyond current efforts.

“People will need to make significant changes to their lifestyles, which will positively impact on their health and wellbeing.”

Transport actions are listed under three headings: “avoid”, “shift” and “improve”.

On “avoid”, the plan says that by 2026:

* personal and retail trips should be cut six per cent against pre-pandemic levels

* nine per cent of people should telecommute 50 per cent of the time. The WMCA estimates that 5-10 per cent of people worked from home before Covid-19

More dramatic trip reductions will be needed in the longer-term. By 2041, the plan says:

* personal and retail trips should be cut 25 per cent

* 35 per cent of people should work from home or at local ‘hubs’ 50 per cent of time

The reduction in trips will mean job losses in some industries. “Reduced demand for city services such as food and beverage stores,” says the plan. […]

Paris target ‘impractical’

The WMCA’s target to cut CO2 emissions to 8.1 million tonnes by 2026 is still far above the 4.9mtCO2 that the Tyndall Centre said should be the target for the area to stay within the emission limits of the Paris Commitment. 

“This [the Tyndall target] would require radical actions, some of which are not thought feasible in the timescale due to legal, social and financial requirements,” says the WMCA. 

Among other things, the WMCA says the Tyndall target would require car’s mode share to be cut from 63 per cent to 35 per cent by 2026, and all buses and taxis to be electrified by the same date.

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