Last year, Birmingham City Council announced a ‘Climate Emergency’. This required it to set itself ambitious climate targets, chiefly a commitment to achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2030, reallocating funding in order to do so. Yet, predictably, councillors left themselves a get-out clause. Rather than committing to the target outright, the council promised it would “aspire to be” carbon neutral in 2030. 

Now, just as predictably, they are seeking to wriggle out of their pledge. 

An interim ‘Route to Zero’ report was released on the 15th of September which made a point of “Not(ing) the challenge of achieving the 2030 net zero carbon date for the City as a whole” with a more official update to the target expected in December. While, for now, the council continues to work towards the 2030 target, it is clear from this report and yesterday’s Transport and Sustainability Committee meeting that they are laying the groundwork to push the date back. 

(Listen from 6.45)  (Other notable moments: 8.05 – 13.00, 23.00 – 24.30, 34.00 – 41.00)

It was certainly encouraging to hear that some ambitious councillors are eager to scale up the city’s efforts to achieve net zero by 2030, but it is clear they are dragging their more reluctant colleagues along. Cllr Zaffar, who again deserves praise, urged for a “cultural shift… at the top of this organisation” if the council is to meet its climate goals. This is precisely what is needed for Birmingham to fulfil its potential as a leader in the UK’s perilously slow march towards carbon neutrality.  

As far as we’re concerned, however, it is a question of when not if the council walks back from its 2030 commitment. 

So we will be stepping up our activity in the centre of the city over the coming months, encouraging councillors to stick to their guns. Join us on the 13th of October at Victoria Square to make your voice heard! (Further details here)

If Birmingham, one of Britain’s biggest and most important cities abandons its target, it will set a dangerous precedent for others to follow, jeopardising the country’s chances of fulfilling our Paris Agreement goals. Equally, it can become a trailblazer in green urban development. 

The climate crisis will not simply ‘go away’ and, until the council doubles down on its 2030 pledge, nor will we. 

Love and rage x

Charlie Avery

Charlie Avery

Charlie Avery is a journalist, researcher and media coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Birmingham. Contact at for further information.