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'Rainy Date' by Hamed Parham

Adapt and thrive: Greater Manchester joins roster of EU cities adapting to climate change

Change is inevitable and adaptation is critical. That’s the message being delivered by Sir Richard Leese as he signs Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority (GMCA) up to a European compact of cities and local authorities that are integrating climate change resilience into their strategic plans and programmes.

From flooding, heat stress and extreme weather events to the added burden on our health and emergency services, the new pledge by city leaders will make the changing climate a standing item on the city’s agenda, one that cannot be ignored or placed ‘on hold’.

The ‘Mayors Adapt’ commitment, which was officially signed on Thursday 16 October, places cities at the heart of the climate challenge, recognising that while national and international programmes are being introduced to make local communities and economies more resilient to changes in climate, cities are uniquely able to accelerate adaptation, particularly by making sure that adapting to the future climate is increasingly seen as part of everyday, mainstream business.

Greater Manchester joins more than 60 other European cities in the group of adapting cities, including Antwerp, Bologna, Hannover, San Sebastián and Barcelona. Other cities are in the process of signing up to Mayors Adapt, too, including Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Glasgow.

Recent research into the impact that climate change could be expected to have on the city, carried out at the University of Manchester for the Bruntwood-sponsored EcoCities project, revealed a stormier future for the city and an urgent need to adapt. According to the researchers, by the 2050s  and assuming that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise:

  • Annual temperatures could rise by up to 3.6ºC;
  • In summer the average daily temperature could increase by up to 5.6ºC;
  • Winters could see rainfall rise by over 30%; and
  • In summer rainfall could be reduced by up to 36%.

Such dramatic shifts in climate could see an increase in heat stroke, greater risk of flooding, impacts on biodiversity and economic impacts across a range of sectors including food, chemicals, transport, construction and insurance. Research also shows that the most vulnerable sections of society are expected to be hit the hardest.

Signing up for Mayors Adapt brings with it a requirement for climate change adaptation to be integrated into all relevant plans. Progress will be shared with the other signatory cities and every second year a progress report will be filed by all participating cities.

“We know that even if we hit our targets to reduce carbon emissions, there’s still enough carbon already out there in the atmosphere to lead to really challenging conditions within our own lifetimes and certainly those of our children,” said Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and former chair of Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Hub.

“That’s why we’re taking this so seriously and making adaptation a core priority for our city. We’ve drafted a climate change strategy for Greater Manchester that has adaptation running through it, we’ve joined a UN resilient cities programme and we’ve had some pioneering research done by the EcoCities project.

“Now the challenge is to take action and that means making adaptation part of the way we do business, every day and in every walk of life,” he concluded.


Main photo by Flickr user Hamed Parham published here under a Creative Commons Licence.