Coventry’s sustainability ambitions are at the heart of a new nationwide campaign by E.ON – highlighted as an example of how communities can move towards creating a greener, more prosperous economy.

Fronted by the Coventry's Poet Laureate, John Bernard, who has created a performance piece ‘Spark a Light’ in Coventry’s honour, the campaign seeks to draw attention to public attitudes and priorities in green investment throughout the UK.

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E.ON polled more than 10,000 people across the country on their attitudes to sustainability and uncovered some of Coventry’s citizens’ top priorities for green investment. The data shows the public is optimistic about the transformational impact that green investments could have for jobs and prosperity at a local level. This is spearheaded by the younger generation with nearly three fifths (58%) of 18-24-year-olds believing funding for sustainable projects will increase career opportunities within their communities.

The top sustainable improvements people in Coventry would most like to see in their community are:

  1. Make homes greener and cheaper to run – 54% (55%)
  2. Reduce the carbon impact of public buildings – 49% (47%)
  3. Create more green spaces in built up urban areas – 40% (44%)
  4. Make sure all new building projects are completed to a net-zero standard – 39% (43%)
  5. Electrify all public transport – 39% (36%)
  6. Make towns/cities more pedestrian and cycle friendly – 24% (34%)
  7. Install more electric vehicle charging points – 24% (33%)

The  top sustainable improvements desired from businesses in Coventry are:

  1. Make offices greener (e.g. insulation, solar panels, heat pumps etc) – 59% (43%)
  2. Make recycling easier – 41% (43%)
  3. Ban the use of disposable plastic – 32% (31%)
  4. Commit to only using sustainable suppliers – 31% (28%)
  5. Ensure pension providers hold carbon friendly investment portfolios – 30% (21%)
  6. Only use hybrid or fully electric company cars and fleet vehicles – 23% (20%)

Bracketed figures represent the UK-wide percentage who voted for the same improvements.

Answering that challenge is one of the reasons Coventry City Council has chosen to work with E.ON as its Strategic Energy Partner (SEP), a 15-year collaboration aiming to create a city that is more self-sufficient in sustainable energy, with potential plans including solar energy for public buildings, greater electrification of local transport, and improvements to the energy efficiency of homes and workplaces.

Chris Norbury, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said:

“This survey builds on our 2022 research and shows attitudes and ambitions towards more sustainable communities are growing year on year, and it’s on all of us across business, public life and within our own lives to respond to that clamour for change.

Investing in sustainability brings so many social benefits and it’s something absolutely everyone can see the benefit of, whether that is helping with lower energy bills energy bills, cleaning the air in our streets, or creating the jobs and skills we need for the future.

While our study highlights some frustration around the speed and scale of sustainable investment, it also demonstrates that people want and demand the benefits such investment will bring. Chief among these is the positive impact on jobs and prosperity.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, said:

“There are really powerful messages in Spark a Light and John’s passion for change comes across strongly.

“There is no doubt that we need to act on the causes and consequences of climate change and here in Coventry we are working hard to make a difference. We are leading the green industrial revolution with our ambition for a gigafactory, Coventry Very Light Rail and residential charge points. But we are also doing all we can to secure funding to help people heat their homes for less and for better cycle infrastructure, so people have more green travel options. We also know the green sector is creating jobs right now with many more to come in the future and we want local people to have the skills to access these jobs too. 

“Our strategic energy partnership with E.ON will help to ensure we can deliver all of this faster and so local people feel the benefit of cleaner energy, lower bills, more jobs and green skills.”

As part of the SEP, £2.8m has been secured from the government’s Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) to fund better insulation, air source heat pumps, solar panels, and building control technology for Coventry-based homeowners and landlords. More projects being explored by the SEP include solar energy for public buildings, a push to electrify transport with greater electric vehicle charge point access for residents, and improving energy efficiency across homes and businesses.

Published: Thursday, 16th May 2024