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M:ACF Annual General Meeting 2015

On the agenda was a break down of the MACF Annual Report presented by Gavin Elliot (Chair of the MACF steering group), which encompassed our aims as a city as well as a review of progress made so far. The night’s guest speaker, newly appointed Executive Director of Policy and Campaigns at Friends of The Earth, Craig Bennett, delivered a passionate and uplifting keynote on Manchester’s future in tackling climate change. 

Kicking off the evening's schedule was Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, who welcomed attendees and introduced the MACF steering group panel. Lees stressed the importance of stakeholders working together with the City Council to achieve common goals.

Next, Gavin Elliot took to the podium to present the annual report from the past year. Firstly it was addressed that a 20% reduction in carbon emissions has been achieved in the city, with a continual downward trend expected over the next decade. Positive news, however it was noted that the national energy policy of switching from coal to gas sources may have been the major factor for the downward spike as opposed to MACF’s actions, and that at current projections our target of a 41% reduction by 2020 would be missed. Nonetheless, the trend is down and is a positive step in the right direction.

Additionally, it was reported that cultural changes on a personal level have had a positive impact on carbon reduction with a downward trend on the city’s carbon emissions per capita. In contrast, businesses still need to do more both environmentally and economically to adapt to climate change.

In terms of building architecture we are seeing improvements in private housing with photovoltaic panels on roofs, wall insulation and more climate-aware interventions becoming more standard. Non-domestic buildings are still falling short in comparison and hopes are that this will improve over the coming years.

Transport represented 24% of the total emissions in 2014, a figure expected to decrease in response to the extensive investments in present and prospective projects. These investments include the metrolink expansion and the ‘second city crossing’, increasing the capacity and reliability of the networks lines; implementation of the new ‘get me there’ smart card for a more flexible, hassle free way of using public transport; and finally the development of a more extensive cycle network through the £20 million ‘Velocity 2025’ strategy.

Looking beyond carbon emissions, sustainable consumption is also a vital contributor in achieving M:ACF’s aims and objectives. Reports show more and more people are adopting sustainable waste and procurement measures in their daily lives. Community growing schemes are too seeing an increase in numbers such as ‘Incredible Edible’ and ‘Real Food Wythenshawe’ leading by example.

The completion of the Alexandra Park restoration, as well as increased tree planting across Greater Manchester as a whole, is a promising outlook on the future of the green and blue infrastructure strategy that will be ongoing through to 2025.

Gavin concluded with a brief view of the challenges for 2015 and beyond, stating future funding and how M:ACF can become more self-reliant as the major issues to tackle through better leveraging plans and funding from third party sources. He mentioned the necessity for increased engagement with the public about the city’s future projects, as we, the citizens, will be the major factor in filling the gap to meet the CO2 reduction target for 2020.

Next to take the stage was the new Executive Director of Friends of The Earth, Craig Bennett, who began his presentation with a tribute to all FOE volunteers for their valued contributions to the organisation. He expanded on how Manchester was the first to respond to its ‘Big Arms’ campaign ten years ago, set up to persuade local authorities to generate their own carbon emissions targets. He also mentioned the recently rejected application by Lancashire Councty Council for the shale gas explorer Cuadrilla to frack in the country, and the crucial value of local people power and campaigners who share the same notion that even in times of austerity we cannot afford to put the environment on the back seat.

“If Westminster won’t lead, Manchester can. Our future objectives cannot be solely mitigated by top down policies.”

- Craig Bennett


He continued, stating that in order to meet and exceed our aims as a city we have to take every decision and piece of strategy with climate change at the forefront of our minds. We currently possess the level of technology to make a significant impact but it is people’s spirit that determines whether we tackle climate change successfully.

Summarising, he posed four challenges to Manchester:

  1. Go beyond targets and aim to be fossil free.
  2. Another source of energy is out there - lets utilize it!
  3. All industries need to agree on a low-carbon plan.
  4. Make Manchester the UK’s healthiest city. Efficient housing, clean air and high quality green spaces, in a community where everyone’s voice is heard.

With the clinking of wine glasses echoing from the foyer, it was time to bring the evenings schedule to a close. A huge thank you to everyone involved and to all who attended. See you again next year!


If you attended the event, please do complete our short survey here to tell us what you thought.

You can read the full MACF Annual Report 2015 here.

More information on the green and blue infrastructure strategy can be found here

Photograph by kind permission of Jonathan Nicholson