Part three: Climate action #NotinNewYork

In my last #NotinNewYork article, I explained the importance of aligning climate goals with wider social and economic goals, along with the need for political leadership and radical collaborations between public, private and civic organisations to deliver change.

Our EIT Climate-KIC work in the West Midlands of the UK provides a good example of what happens when planned change bumps up against uncomfortable realities on the ground. The West Midlands was a pilot region for EIT Climate-KIC’s Transition Cities work, which paved the way for rethinking the role of innovation to support whole place and whole system change. Our work includes supporting over 70 companies to grow by developing new products and services and taking them to market; supporting the creation of energy innovation zones to test novel energy solutions for heating and transport (through Energy Capital); and developing a prospectus to encourage external investment in energy-related projects in the area, drawing on the natural strengths of a place that was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

Since the West Midlands is a cradle of vehicle design and manufacturing, EIT Climate-KIC has been exploring the introduction of new vehicle technologies through different projects. One project, InclusiveEV, involved testing the introduction of electric vehicles as part of a city-car club scheme with partners E-Car Club (part of the EuropCar Group) to tackle ‘transport poverty,’ where communities in urban fringes without access to private cars become excluded.

Yet, while the project intent was good, the practical outcome was very different. Over a period of nights earlier this year, every electric city-car club vehicle in our scheme was vandalized, whilst petrol and diesel vehicles on adjacent parking lots were left untouched. After discussions with our partners, E-Car Club, the police and the local council, E-Car Club have had to abandon the project.

One theory about the damage is that is was inflicted by local taxicab drivers. They are already under pressure—and undercut—by the rise of ridesharing firms like Uber. And a very visible electric car project in urban fringes which undercut their prices—enabling cheap, journeys amongst their core market—may have been the last straw. For taxicab drivers, the imposition of such schemes in their area creates an existential risk to their livelihood.

So how should we respond? One approach might be to just ignore the problems of one group, such as taxi drivers, on the basis that the electric and autonomous vehicle revolution is coming and there is nothing they can do to stop it. But, as we have found, this will create a direct and violent response.

Another approach is to note that we will not effect change at the speed and scale we require unless we address the issues of jobs, of identity, and of livelihoods of different groups across society. This suggests that if we are to run this project again, we need to engage properly with the local urban fringe communities that we seek to help. We need the local residents and the taxicab companies to become cheerleaders for cheap, clean forms of mobility, rather than as opposing forces seeking to stop every change. This means far better citizen engagement, understanding issues and opportunities for a just transition.

To that end, working with partners UK100 Cities, our latest project in West Midlands, Route2Zero is explicitly focusing on activating local communities around building a clean energy system that meets their needs for warm, affordable homes and effective, clean mobility.

 
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood
In The News
Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience

Start Park, a project led by citizens from Florence,...

Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience
In The News
New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners

Following its Open Call, the New Accelerator programme has...

New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners
In The News
New videogame builds climate awareness among players

Change Game, a videogame financed by EIT Climate-KIC and...

New videogame builds climate awareness among players
In The News
Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations

Carlota Mateos and Juan Vila, co-founders of PlenEat have...

Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations
In The News
Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks, a carbon capture technology, is...

Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”
In The News
COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Kit England. Five years on...

COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”
In The News
COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melani Furlan. Five years on...

COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”
In The News
A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas

The SaferPlaces project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has created...

A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas
In The News
Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region

The Glasgow City Region uses arts as a means...

Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region
In The News
Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT...

Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy

The World Circular Economy Forum brings together business leaders,...

EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy
In The News
Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery

Over 4,500 citizens from around the world will join...

Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery
In The News
Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar

Are you working to deliver transformative change for a...

Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar
In The News
Madrid, Amsterdam and Milan: Three cities putting citizen participation at the...

The Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future global actions...

Madrid, Amsterdam and Milan: Three cities putting citizen participation at the heart of climate action
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC selected to become a member of the European Circular Economy S...

EIT Climate-KIC circular economy expert, Cliona Howie, will join...

EIT Climate-KIC selected to become a member of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform
In The News
Partnering with EIT Climate-KIC on the New Accelerator: Call for Expressions o...

We are looking for new and existing EIT Climate-KIC...

Partnering with EIT Climate-KIC on the New Accelerator: Call for Expressions of Interest
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC leads collective efforts to accelerate Madrid’s transition t...

A cross- KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) initiative is...

EIT Climate-KIC leads collective efforts to accelerate Madrid’s transition towards carbon neutrality
In The News
The Human Capital project is the EU educational sector’s answer to robots ta...

Supported by the European Institute of Technology (EIT) and...

The Human Capital project is the EU educational sector’s answer to robots taking over jobs—and AI has a role to play