A cross-sector coalition is urging everyone across the North East to come together with the aim of ‘Becoming England’s greenest region’.
The North East England Climate Coalition (NEECCo) is calling upon every individual, household, business and organisation in the region to sign up and make a pledge to work together, and to help attract significant and sustainable investment, including from government, to build a £1.5 billion portfolio of investable projects.
NEECCo’s aims include agreeing on ambitious targets to develop and deliver climate and environmental initiatives to tackle the climate emergency, reverse ecological collapse and deliver a just transition to a new green economy.
Reaching this goal can only be accomplished at scale, and through sectors and organisations working together, so everyone is asked to do their bit, however small.
The coalition began life in 2019 and includes strategic partners: the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), which works in partnership to meet health and care needs, the five North East universities, business organisations such as the North East England Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Federation of Small Business (FSB), regional government agency representatives such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and Public Health England, utility companies Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Networks, voluntary sector organisations including the Tees Valley and North East England Nature Partnerships, Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE), Schools North East, the North East Culture Partnership and Youth Focus North East, and trade unions represented by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
(Due to local government elections on May 6, local government or Local Enterprise Partnerships are not allowed to make any policy announcements until after the election. Therefore, we are not including any information on any of the local authorities, combined authorities, or LEPs who may or may not be part of NEECCo.)
NEECCo has already established planning groups involving more than 50 partners. So far these have focused on agriculture and land use, retrofitting homes, the built environment, waste and consumption, green finance, indicators and community and public engagement.
Each group is working up action plans and project proposals that will form part of NEECCo’s work programme. In addition, sector leaders such as the Integrated Care System, North East Culture Partnership and VONNE are developing their own sectoral plans and strategies.
A draft of the regional plan will be published in July, to be followed by a period of public consultation. The final plan is scheduled to be launched in October ahead of the international conference on climate change, COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow in November.
Chair of NEECCo Sir Paul Ennals said: “The North East has a unique history. It was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and of innovations such as steam engines, deep pit mining, electric turbines and coal-fired power stations. These world-leading developments built the historic wealth of the region through coal, and it places a responsibility on our region to be at the forefront of the next industrial revolution – one based on a green economy with good jobs, better quality of life and enhanced natural assets for everyone to enjoy.
“We call upon everyone in the North East to do their bit so that we can move closer towards ‘Becoming England’s Greenest Region, so everyone benefits from greener neighbourhoods, improved air quality, more efficient homes, increased job opportunities, and a better quality of life.”
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “The climate emergency is the biggest threat we face. It’s going to take a joint effort – local and national government working cross-party, public bodies, private businesses and all of us as citizens.
“The good news is that decarbonising our economy is a chance to bring new investment, create jobs and better transport at the same time. I want to see a Zero-Carbon, Zero-Poverty North East. Everyone can sign up for that!”
Alan Foster, Chief Executive of the North East and North Cumbria ICS, which brings together health agencies and other partners including hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups, added:
“Climate change is already having a negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing. It’s therefore in the interests of the health system to get fully behind this initiative and to play our part in reducing carbon emissions, protecting and enhancing nature and providing positive impacts for all.”
Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director of the CBI, stated: “For businesses, addressing the climate emergency is not only the right thing to do, but research demonstrates it enhances their sustainability and profitability.
“It makes good business sense to address these issues at pace as more and more customers – from the public sector, other businesses and the public – are demanding firm action on the climate imperative. I hope businesses from across the North East will get behind this initiative, sign up and make their pledge as we have done.”
Support NEECCo and make your pledge at neecco.org.uk.