Green for growth: a sustainable recovery for the South West
As part of The Big Conversation, we ran a series of virtual events to explore the best road to recovery for regions across the UK.
On 2 November 2020, stakeholders from the South West gathered as part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Big Conversation to discuss the challenges, opportunities and critical areas of support needed to facilitate a green recovery for the region.
The key issues discussed were:
- The urgency of the pandemic risks overshadowing the sustainability agenda.
- But, COVID-19 has shown that accelerated change is possible.
- Energy efficiency is a tangible way to address climate change.
- There is scope to increase public engagement in a sustainable future.
- Close collaboration across sectors is needed to drive meaningful action.
- Integrating low carbon solutions into recovery packages will motivate businesses to invest.
Jeremy Hayward, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the South West of England
Anna Klimzcak, United Communities Housing Association, CEO
Dr Danielle Sinnett, Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments, University of the West of England
James Wilde, Lloyds Banking Group, Head of Sustainability
John Chaplin, The Bristol Port Company, Director of External Affairs and Special Projects; Chair of SevernNet
Jon Reay, Rewrite Digital, CEO and Founder
Nick Sturge MBE, Cheltenham Borough Council, Chartered Director and Strategic Adviser - Consultant to The Golden Valley Development
Phil Stott, YTKO, Head of Sustainability and Construction
Sam Holliday, The Federation of Small Businesses, Development Manager - Gloucestershire and West of England
Watch the event highlights
Challenges and opportunities
The urgency of the pandemic risks overshadowing the sustainability agenda.
- Understandably, consumers and businesses are in survival mode. Due to priorities emerging from the pandemic, sustainability goals are less front of mind.
- Addressing immediate challenges can inhibit the longer-term thinking needed to decarbonise the economy.
But, COVID-19 has also highlighted that accelerated change is possible.
- Consumers have adopted more sustainable behaviours due to necessity, from cycling to engaging with their local community, while new policies have come to fruition at pace. This provides hope that long-term sustainable changes are achievable.
Energy efficiency is a tangible way to address climate change.
- Buildings are responsible for 40% of annual global carbon emissions. Retrofitting housing stock will play a big role in reducing the South West’s carbon footprint. However, two homes must be retrofitted every minute until 2050 to achieve the UK’s net zero ambition - a challenge for the sector.
"We can’t wait until after the pandemic or when we have all the answers to act, we need to do things now."
Nick Sturge MBE, Cheltenham Borough Council
Solutions to drive a green recovery
Increasing public engagement in a sustainable future is critical.
- There is an opportunity to build on the positive momentum resulting from the pandemic. Climate change can feel out of reach, therefore initiatives must feel relatable and rooted in an understanding of people’s lives and behaviours.
Though retrofitting is a daunting challenge, it has the potential to boost employment.
- Retrofitting can create employment in the South West leading to an additional 3 million green jobs. It provides an opportunity for SMEs in the region to increase demand, and for employees in the construction sector to develop their skills.
"We need to make sustainability relevant for people in the short to medium term, and connect people's actions to the difference they’re making."
Dr Danielle Sinnett, University of the West of England
Linking ‘green’ to productivity will encourage business to adopt sustainable processes.
- Integrating low carbon solutions into recovery packages will motivate businesses to engage with sustainability while in survival mode. Examples include expanding access to broadband, incentivising SMEs to unlock energy savings and increasing access to sustainable modes of transport, e.g. cycling and EVs.
Close collaboration across sectors is needed to drive meaningful action.
- Collaboration happens within sectors, but is often lacking on a regional scale/across sectors. Western Gateway is an example of successful collaboration to drive economic growth and share best practice.