For this workshop on green finance, Footsteps brought together Acocks Greener (the Acocks Green and Tyseley community eco group) and Laetitia Pancrazi, a sustainable finance expert from Useful Projects.
Laetitia presented the conclusions of her work on the key enablers that help local authorities deliver on their climate action pledges, followed by a lively discussion. Useful Projects has been working with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on its circular economy and zero carbon homes roadmaps. You can view a recording of Laetitia’s presentation below and download her PowerPoint slides.
Some fifteen participants joined the workshop, including Nigel Lloyd, Acocks Greener coordinator, Councillors John O’Shea and Roger Harmer, Rosemary Coyne from SHAP (Sustainable Housing Action Partnership) and John Nightingale and Chris Martin from Footsteps.
Key points from Laetitia’s presentation were:
- Capacity building is more important than specific green finance mechanisms. Six key enablers were identified:
- Building a total value business case
- Capacity-building and upskilling
- Unlocking external funding
- Scaling up retrofit
- Delivering low-carbon developments
- Maximising collaboration
- Main lessons for community groups included
- Maximise collaboration and engagement in early project phases
- Explore alternative delivery and finance models
- Need for community ownership
Key areas emerging relating to Birmingham and the West Midlands emerging from the discussion following Laetitia’s presentation included:
- The massive investment in existing energy infrastructure needs to be channelled into supporting new energy technologies like using methane from sewage to heat homes. Central government legislation is needed to disrupt the status quo and drive change in areas like phasing out gas boilers.
- We must not forget the size and scale of some of the challenges for Birmingham as one of the largest local authorities in Europe. When the council tried to source electric refuse vehicles the market could not provide what was needed. The new interim Birmingham chief executive has come from the WMCA and will bring new perspectives to the Council’s work.
- There is a ‘wall of money’ in global finance which can flow into sustainable projects. In order to accelerate this, it needs to be recognised that investors are looking for a return on their investments. At present there is little communication between those who have the money and those who have projects. It’s a question of building business cases for investment and brokering relationships. Initiatives like Pollination, where James Cameron is a partner, are accelerating the transition to a net zero, climate resilient future.