Cumbria’s outstanding renewable natural resources position it to play a nationally important role in the UK’s shift to a resilient, net-zero economy, one that is delivered through a just transition and drives local economic development. Net-zero has the potential to create good green jobs across the county, contributing to the government’s ‘leveling up’ agenda as the economy recovers from the COVID pandemic.
One bottleneck that is holding back this potential being realized is a pipeline of investable projects and programmes that offer attractive returns and deliver real world economic, social and environmental benefits.
In response to this, a consortium of local and national organisations have come together in partnership to develop a green investment plan. The plan will show how Cumbria’s decarbonisation and nature based solutions could be financed and be fair for workers and communities.
The plan will focus on identifying a set of iconic and transformative projects that exemplify the range of opportunities across sectors, environmental priorities and locations in the county. The projects will be diverse in terms of size and the type of financing required from institutional investors, banks, public finance and community finance institutions. The aim is to show how Cumbria can become the first carbon neutral rural county through a credible financing strategy that responds to the needs and priorities of local people.
– IDENTIFY, EVALUATE, ENGAGE AND PROFILE
The project will work through the following steps by the end of 2021:
– Phase 1: Identify transformative projects that can a) build on Cumbria’s core assets of renewables and nature b) decarbonise heat, power and transport c) catalyse community energy d) advance carbon sinks, adaptation and resilience; and e) promote a just transition
- 1b. Produce an ‘Opportunity Map’ will be produced laying out the range of investment needs and opportunities
- 1c. Evaluate the projects against specific selection criteria and select a portfolio that are representative of a range of opportunities to create sustainable prosperity
– Phase 2: Support the development of selected projects (to differing levels of feasibility – depending on their size and complexity) to bring them to a stage where they can be presented to investors.
- 2b. Engage and dialogue with investors and other stakeholders, including potential project developers and entrepreneurs, local and regional government, industry bodies and the local community to refine and improve.
– Phase 3: Profile the projects to investors and Cumbria’s broader community to highlight the positive potential of a green investment-led recovery and lay the foundations for translating the plan into practice. The lessons of the project will also be shared nationally with key groups.
Project MILESTONES, 2021
- July: Complete Phase 1 and present our findings to local stakeholders and interested investors
- September: Host a community engagement campaign with Friends of the Earth and others to find out from local people in Cumbria which projects we should invest in
- October: Ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit, publish the Green Investment Plan and hold a partner and investor event
2. A PARTNERSHIP PROJECT
With funding from Quadrature Climate Foundation, local and national organisations have come together to work in partnership on a green investment plan for Cumbria. Key partners include EdenWorks Green, Grantham Research Institute of the LSE, local charity Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfs) and the multinational engineering and design company Arup.
The project will also collaborate closely with local authorities, utilities, business and community groups whose input will help develop the plan.
A core project team has been established whose role is to act as coordinators, facilitators and change agents.
- Nick Robins, Grantham Research Institute, LSE (project chair)
- Ciara Shannon, EdenWorks Green (project lead)
- Karen Mitchell, CAfS (partner)
- Michael Osborne, Arup (partner)
- Anne Chapman (independent consultant)
- Ian Callaghan Associates (sustainable finance advisory)
- Ian Dickie, eftec (economics for the environment consultancy)
- Phil Davies, CAfS (CAfS project management)