Birmingham’s environmental credentials highlighted in sustainable city report

A new economic report has revealed a growing divide between UK cities when it comes to environmental sustainability – with Birmingham being outperformed by locations in the South in terms of lower CO2 emissions per person and zero-emission commuting. 

According to UK Powerhouse, a report by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic & Business Research (Cebr), cities in the South have the strongest economies in terms of GVA* and dominate in a number of key indicators relating to sustainability.

The report says Birmingham will be in the top 5 for job creation in Q1 2021 – the quarter when the transition period in the UK’s current EU Withdrawal agreement is set to end – but reveals a poor picture in terms of its environmental credentials.

When it comes to carbon dioxide per capita, the latest figure revealed that Birmingham had reduced its year on year figure by 6.4% putting it in 16th place with a figure of 3.7 kt CO2 per person.

There were however no locations in the Midlands in the top 10 for the lowest CO2 per person.


CO2 emissions (kt CO2) per capita (2017) YoY change
Bournemouth 3.0 -6.2%
Ipswich 3.0 -4.1%
Southampton 3.1 -6.3%
Brighton 3.1 -4.7%
Outer London 3.1 -5.3%
London 3.3 -6.7%
Exeter 3.4 -7.7%
Plymouth 3.4 -5.5%
Reading 3.4 -6.2%
Bristol 3.5 -3.5%

Source: UK Powerhouse

Birmingham appears 11th for the share of low emission transport** at 9%, however came last for share of population using zero emission transport***.

Out of all the English Powerhouse cities in the report, Birmingham was also ranked the lowest for waste recycling.

Chris Rawstron, Partner at Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham, said: “This latest report paints a mixed picture for Birmingham. It is expected to be the fifth fastest growing city for employment growth at the start of 2021 with a 1.6% year on year increase, taking headcount to 600,600.

“What is clear is that there is much more to do in terms of environmental sustainability. In June, the UK has announced its ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the first major economy to do so. The ever-more urgent topic of climate change and sustainability has reached the highest level of government and it’s important that businesses across the region recognise not only the important role they have to play, but also the huge and exciting opportunities that exist.”