Global players respond to Midlands Low Carbon Challenge

At the beginning of March, a Climate-KIC backed conference – ‘Climate Challenge’ – was held at Millennium Point in Birmingham. The aim of the ambitious event was to implement the outcomes of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership and EU-China Mayor’s Forum, and to offer delegates a chance to share knowledge and best practice, as well access and present business opportunities. It featured a number of excellent speakers from the UK, China and the wider EU, and attracted over 300 participants across two days.


Broadly, the discussions covered four related topics: Chinese and European low carbon cities, the clean technology ‘revolution’, low carbon business opportunities and the science and finance of climate change.

The team behind the Climate Challenge was an exemplar of cross-sector partnership: Climate Change Solutions was joined by The Midlands Environmental Business Company (MEBC), Sustainability West Midlands (SWM), Birmingham City University, the Enterprise Europe Network, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham City Council (BCC). Climate-KIC provided additional support and financial backing.

BCC and the Built Environment Climate Change Innovators (BECCI) also sponsored receptions, which made space for delegates to socialise and network.


Overall, feedback was that the event was useful and enjoyable – but also that it could have benefited from a tighter focus, particularly with regards to the participation of the business community. This was certainly more limited than the organisers would have liked. A more tailored agenda may have enabled them to meet other barriers which contribute to limited participation from that group: the uncertain policy framework around climate change globally, silo-ed activity as well as more general financial and time constraints. However, these are useful learning points that can be applied in future.

More importantly, the partnership working around this event continues – notably on a project on decentralised energy, which links innovative, large-scale retrofit with renewables.

If you would like to catch up or recap any of the presentations from the event, they can be found here.


This is a guest post by Tony McNally of Climate Change Solutions. Both photographs were taken by Tony Fox, from the Climate Challenge 2014 set. 

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