At the second Green Summit, held in March 2019, Greater Manchester launched its five-year environment plan for Greater Manchester – an ambitious plan setting out the action needed to make sure Greater Manchester makes its contribution to tackling climate change and protects and enhances our city-region’s natural environment.

Greater Manchester’s ambition is to be carbon-neutral by 2038 – 12 years’ ahead of the government’s own target of an 80% reduction (on 1990 levels) by 2050.

The Paris-aligned, science-based plan sets out how Greater Manchester will become one of the world’s healthiest, cleanest and greenest city regions. The plan was put together following extensive engagement with residents, businesses and other organisations across Greater Manchester. Such engagement will continue as we now begin to put the plan into action.

To achieve the plan’s ambitions requires urgent action from everyone in Greater Manchester – from businesses, the public sector, and local residents. We all need to play our part to make our environmental vision a reality.

Commitments from the public sector

The plan has commitments from Greater Manchester’s public sector agencies on how they will lead by example and make sure that everyone benefits fairly from the transition to a low carbon economy.

The plan sets out how Greater Manchester’s local authorities and health sector will work to reduce their environmental impact (of their buildings, vehicle fleets and procurement processes, in particular).

It also sets out  the policy and delivery initiatives to be adopted, that will  help speed up of Greater Manchester’s transition to a carbon-neutral city-region, and to make sure its opportunities are available to everyone.

Greater Manchester is also being supported by action from organisations such as the Environment Agency and Natural England to improve our natural environment and better protect us from the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and over-heating.

Businesses to lead the way

We also need businesses to lead the way, maximising the potential economic benefits resulting from the transition to a low-carbon economy.

This includes increasing the efficiency of how businesses heat and power their buildings and produce goods/services, reducing the environmental impact of how their goods and staff travel, and installing renewable energy and heating technologies at their premises.

Staff will play a key role in driving these changes within their businesses o and several organisations have supported this by running carbon literacy training for their staff or promoting environmental volunteering.

Residents playing a part

As residents, we can all take what might seem like small steps but which will add up to making a big difference across Greater Manchester.

We can cycle and walk for short journeys and use public transport for longer ones.

Where we do need to drive, we can car share or replace a petrol/diesel car with an electric one when we come to upgrade.

We may also be able to install renewable energy generation at our home and upgrade our heating system and insulation to reduce the impact of the energy we use.

Our consumption of products that are made outside the city region, such as food, clothing and single-use plastics, can also have a significant impact on the environment – so we need to think about the products we buy and consume.

But there is still more to do!

Even if we all take action, the plan shows that this will only get us so far towards our aims,  and there is still a large gap between the outcomes of the proposed actions and our ultimate carbon neutrality ambitions.

To close this gap, we all need to work together in new and innovative ways – in how we develop new technologies, how we fund and finance investment in deploying what already exists, how different sectors work together, how we increase the capacity and capability of our workforce and how we educate and change people’s behaviours.

The plan is just the start of our mission to do this and the start of a conversation with everyone in Greater Manchester about how we work together to do that.

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