National zero carbon tour sees high turnout in the West of England

By Nick Batten on 20 September, 2021

The West of England attracted a record audience when it recently welcomed the national #ZeroCarbonTour, on its way to the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

Nearly 200 business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered at the University of the West of England (in person and on live stream) to hear from Metro Mayor Dan Norris, the University of the West of England Vice-Chancellor Steve West and from businesses that have started their own journey to net zero.

The tour aims to share the net-zero message with the business community and raise awareness of the UN Race to Zero and the UK’s #TogetherForOurPlanet Campaign, ahead of COP26 in November.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris and UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West opened the event, urging businesses to take action to tackle the climate emergency.

Dan said, “The University of the West of England was a perfect place to officially welcome the Zero Carbon Bus Tour to our region. Many of our brilliant local researchers, scientists and engineers hold a key to addressing the global climate emergency.

“The high turnout reflects the enthusiasm and commitment in the West of England to meet our ambitious goal of net-zero carbon by 2030. The bus tour was an innovative way to drive home the important message that we can all play our part in beating the global climate emergency.”

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is already helping businesses on their journey to net zero through its Green Business Grants scheme, funded by the West of England Recovery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. Over 50 businesses have already been awarded grants totalling £500,000 to make energy saving improvements – including some of those speaking at the Zero Carbon Tour event. A free carbon survey offer is currently available to any business wanting to understand their energy use and how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor James Longhurst, Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability at UWE Bristol, said, “UWE Bristol was delighted to host the West of England leg of the Planet Mark Zero Carbon Tour.

“Climate change presents a significant challenge to each and every one of us, one we must not and cannot ignore. UWE Bristol has set itself the ambition of becoming at least carbon neutral for all of its emissions by 2030 and is working to support businesses and local authorities such as South Gloucestershire and Bristol to meet their own ambitious carbon goals.

“Through our teaching we are helping our students to become carbon literate and ready to play their part in the green economy of tomorrow whilst our research is addressing key questions of mitigating emissions and adaptation to a changing climate.”

Further examples of sustainability action gathered during the Tour will be showcased at COP26 to inspire others to create similar initiatives around the world.

Attendees also picked up advice from zero-carbon experts including the South West Energy Hub and found out about support available to help them on their zero-carbon journeys, such as the West of England Low Carbon Challenge Fund.

The West of England Combined Authority’s new group-buying scheme, ‘Solar Together West of England’ is open until 28th September and may be suitable for some businesses as well as homeowners across the region. For more information visit www.solartogether.co.uk/west-of-england.

Pictured above: [left to right] UWE Vice Chancellor Steve West and West of England Mayor Dan Norris with the Zero Carbon bus