Bret Willers – Coventry City Council

Head of Climate Change & Sustainability, Coventry City Council

Bret has a long history of managing change in relation to sustainable development and regeneration having worked at Director level in the public sector in Local Government and also for national charities.  

Bret was one of the first Environmental Co-ordinators in the UK leading the City of Cardiff’s Environmental Strategy the first City to be awarded Recycling City and Energy City status and winning an International Council Local Environmental Initiatives Award during the Rio Earth Summit.  Bret Set up the Welsh national Environmental Co-ordinators Forum and played an active role in Eurocities, he was a member of the EU’s Urban Environment Expert Group and was on the Team that drafted the European Commission’s Strategy for Sustainable Cities and Towns and the Aalborg Charter.  Bret was also involved in the Development of the UN’s Habitat II Programme for Sustainable Human Settlements with the Prepcomm meetings in New York and the negotiating the agreement at the Summit in Istanbul. 

A Former Constituency Director in Birmingham, a CEO of ‘Back on the Map NDC’ in Sunderland and Area Co-ordinator in Coventry Bret is well versed in the devolution debate and empowering communities and multi-agency partnerships for collaborative working for sustainable development and community regeneration.  As Development Director of Garden Organic (The Henry Doubleday Research Association) he played a key role in developing the Eco-Attractions Group a collaboration of a number of national tourist attractions with an ecological focus such as Kew gardens, The Eden Project, The Deep, the Living Rainforest, Centre for Alternative Technology and others. 


Now as Head of Sustainability and Climate Change in Coventry he has returned to his roots engaging with public, private and voluntary sector bodies across the City region in developing a sustainable development and climate change strategy to be collectively owned by the City as a whole.  

Coventry with its long history with the automotive industry is leading on a number of initiatives in the UK it is to be the first Electric Bus City with a fleet of over 300 buses to be converted to electric and has the largest number of electric vehicle charging points per capita in the country.   The City Council working in partnership with industry is developing the production of a lighter weight alternative to trams with its Very Light Rail (VLR) System alternative to funding from Innovate UK, Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority are working with a number of Universities, Direct Network Operators and energy companies in understanding how the city can maximise the development of zero carbon technologies for the supply of zero carbon energy and manage what is becoming an increasingly complex more localised form of energy provision with an increasing number of energy providers across the City.   Coventry is partnered with Eon with one of the first Strategic Energy Partnerships in the UK. 

Coventry has achieved an ‘A’ rating from CDP and is continually striving to meet its climate change targets 55 to 65% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 100% by the Government’s target of 2050.  Scope 3 activities account for a considerable percentage of the Council’s carbon emissions which places greater emphasis on the importance of its influence over suppliers and the organisations it commissions to meet carbon reduction targets as a critical measure of performance.   The City Council is currently working with over 50 voluntary, private and public sector organisations on a strategy to address the risks and consequences of extreme weather events caused by climate change where the City Council and its partners need to adapt to the changes we face and become more resilient in the face of adversity. 


Content Zone Pathway to Net Zero

Coventry - The role of local authorities in addressing climate change, carbon reduction and adapting to the inevitability of change

An outline of the activities of one of the UK’s leading authority’s working across Departments and in partnership with others in combatting climate change its causes and effects and adapting to the changes we are likely to face over the coming decades.