The world’s first climate change festival will take place this summer, from 31 May to 8 June, in Birmingham.



The built environment accounts for half of Britain’s carbon emissions, and there is a direct link between climate change and the way we design and use our cities. Birmingham pioneered the carbon-based industrial revolution, and the city now intends to apply the same spirit and skill to becoming sustainable.  During the festival, it will launch an ambitious plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions over the next 18 years. 


The festival, organised by Birmingham City Council and CABE, will also turn the debate about climate change on its head. The organisers promise something very different to other campaigns about sustainability.  Sir John Sorrell, chair of CABE, says:


“We’re all tired of the Big Scold. The truth is that tackling climate change is as much about reinvention as self-denial. A low carbon city will quite simply be a much better place to live and work.”


Events throughout the festival week will prompt people in Birmingham see their city through different eyes. Every activity will explore how we design and use the buildings and spaces around us. They will range from community-based performance to a hothouse event for professionals working in the built environment sector, and a green day for schools in the city. The festival will also include the formal launch on World Environment Day of the Birmingham Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.


Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:  “The festival will bring into focus much of the good work already underway in the city, and provide a platform from which all interested parties can come together to promote sustainable growth and development in the future.


“That we have been chosen as the first city in the UK to host this festival is evidence of our  determination to lead the way in tackling one of the great issues of our time.”


Last month Birmingham was invited to become the only city in the UK to become a member of global super company CISCO’s ‘Connected Urban Developments’ Initiative. Part of the ‘Clinton Initiative’, a project run by former US President Bill Clinton, the CISCO scheme brings together seven of the most successful and ambitious cities in the world with regard to tackling sustainability issues. Alongside experts from CISCO, the seven cities will work together to research and develop new green technologies, while sharing their expertise and best practice with other cities around the world.


The organisers are inviting people and businesses across the city to take part. They aim to make the festival an annual event, involving at least eight cities in 2009, and going international in 2010.