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By Andy Burnham on

A vision for a carbon-neutral Greater Manchester

To mark the start of Manchester Science Festival’s programme on climate and ideas for a better world, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham reflects on how Greater Manchester’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038 will also mean the city is primed to influence future progress and lead the next Industrial Revolution, through a zero-carbon economy.

A man in a suit against a red background

The Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy sets out a clear ambition to achieve carbon-neutral living in Greater Manchester by 2038, through launching the UK’s first city-region Clean Growth mission.

Achieving our goals demands sustained collaboration from our local authorities and businesses but also big changes in all our behaviours. That’s where our city’s cultural sector has an important role to play and why I’m really looking forward to this year’s Manchester Science Festival.

Our priorities include:

  • Promoting public and active transport
  • Creating enhanced public spaces
  • Investing in energy generation and efficiency
  • Stimulating innovation
  • Supporting further communications for sustainable behaviour change
  • Managing our resources and waste sustainably
  • Increasing our resilience for future impactful weather events

Our city needs to prepare for the climate change impacts that are now unavoidable and we must do it soon.

Image credit: Unsplash/Marcus Spiske

The Clean Growth Mission focuses both on rapidly reducing our carbon emissions and stimulating business innovation to achieve our goals.

To achieve our ambitious 2038 targets will require transformation of the energy system and changes to the way we all use and generate energy.

For Greater Manchester this will see us rapidly increasing the use of low emission vehicles, our homes and buildings will be far more energy efficient, more solar PV (photovoltaic) energy and low-carbon heat will be generated locally, and our businesses are adopting more circular models of operation.

We are in a very different place now than we were last year, but the global pandemic has not slowed down the progress we are making on our environmental commitments.

As we seek to rebuild our economy, there is an unprecedented opportunity to do so in a way which does not forfeit the environmental improvements seen over the last 6 months, by building back better to tackle our climate and biodiversity emergencies and build a fairer, greener society. Over the next year, we aim to invest over £25 million to improve energy efficiency in our fuel poor homes and a further £80 million to reduce carbon emissions from over 150 public buildings across the conurbation.

Greater Manchester is well known for its innovation. By leading the green recovery and pushing further and faster than others, we hope to bring to Greater Manchester the lion’s share of the estimated £230 billion market and 2 million jobs that it is estimated the low-carbon sector will create in the UK by 2030.

Image credit: Paddy O Sullivan/UnSplash

Decarbonisation and digitalisation are twin forces of change, both required to strengthen our resilience and put us on a path to green recovery. The increased digitisation of our energy system is a real opportunity to develop a smarter local energy market. We have secured £6 million from UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) to design a local energy market, including the development of 10 District level local area energy plans to identify our future energy supply and demand. We are working with our partners Electricity North West and Cadent to decarbonise the energy network by 2038. We believe this is possible, but it will require all of us to play our part.

At this year’s Green Summit, we launched several ambitious programmes to revolutionise energy networks across the city-region.

Existing technologies and business models are insufficient to get us to carbon neutral. We need to rethink how we operate across all sectors. We have worked with our private and academic partners to launch an Energy Innovation Agency for the city region, with the aim of accelerating the testing and deployment of new technologies and processes at scale.

To reach our target, 96% of the cars on the road by 2038 will need to be electric. This will require 100,000 public EV charging points to support this transition. Our partner, Electricity North West, is investing to ensure the capacity will be there in the network.

To achieve our long-term ambitions, Greater Manchester is more committed than ever to cleaning up its air through its Clean Air Plan to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions within legal limits by 2024 or sooner. We have recently completed an extensive consultation asking residents and businesses across Greater Manchester for their thoughts on the key elements of the GM Clean Air Plan and the proposals for funding that have been developed.

We are serious about our green ambitions in Greater Manchester: to become carbon neutral by 2038, one of the world’s leading green city-regions and one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.

The Science and Industry Museum and GMCA are working in partnership on a joint action plan to help bridge the STEM skills gap and make Greater Manchester a world leading city for STEM excellence. Both organisations, along with many others, have been playing a key role in working to address the city’s shortfall in skilled STEM workers, as well as preparing the people of Greater Manchester for an inspiring future ahead.

2 comments on “A vision for a carbon-neutral Greater Manchester

  1. Bill Gates has just published a book on Climate Change where he cites, the biggest problem to be emissions from concrete and steel. How much do the massive building projects in Manchester contribute to emissions and indeed is anyone measuring?

  2. “96% of the cars on the road by 2038 will need to be electric”

    That is incredibly ambitious. Cars with internal combustion engines will still be sold up until 2035. Are you planning on introducing some sort of ICE levy to encourage adoption of electric?

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