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Mission Based Approach to delivering the Five Year Environment Plan for GM

With a multi-sectoral team, Greater Manchester will accelerate delivery on its `carbon neutral by 2038’ target, by using a mission based approach to deliver clean growth.  We would like to engage willing, like-minded partners in this innovative venture.


Greater Manchester has agreed a target of 2038 to become carbon neutral.  To achieve this target, GM will need to aim for an average 15% carbon emission reduction per annum.  This is a very challenging target that will require:

  • Rapid deployment of renewable  energy generation (Solar PV/Thermal, low carbon heat networks, heat pumps) with smart distribution and storage technologies
  • Extensive energy efficiency retrofit of domestic properties
  • Improved efficiency of commercial heating and cooling
  • Exploration of increased biomass/biofuel power generation
  • Shift from fossil fuels to battery or fuel cells for transport
  • Shifting domestic transport behaviour
  • Accelerated waste reduction/resource efficiency, reuse and recycling
  • Enhanced natural capital to provide the ecosystem services needed to create a city region resilient to climate change and support

For successful delivery within the timescales required, GM partner organisations will need to work and operate in a completely different way.  We are describing this as a `mission based approach’ and have agreed with Government (via the GM Local Industrial Strategy) that GM will aim to be the UK’s first Clean Growth Mission at the city region scale.  GMCA has declared a climate emergency and provided seed-corn funding for 3 years to initiate actions and increase our own capacity to deliver, but we cannot achieve this ambitious transformation on our own.

The Mission Based Approach

In essence, the Mission Based Approach requires setting an ambitious Mission of “Carbon Neutral Living Within the Greater Manchester Economy by 2038” and breaking this down into manageable challenges.  Rather than focusing on particular sectors, this approach focuses on problem specific challenges facing society that will require many different sector’s involvement to solve.

It is proposed that the challenges which should be tackled initially are:

  • Sustainable consumption and production challenge – “more with less”
  • Low Carbon Buildings Challenge – reducing emissions through “post-meter” actions
  • Energy Innovation Challenge – reducing emissions through “pre-meter” action
  • Natural Capital Challenge – ecosystem services and natural adaptation
  • Transport Challenge – Active and public travel
  • Communication and Behaviour Change Challenge – engaging and communicating with all stakeholders (cross cutting)

Each of these Challenge Groups will be asked to drive forward action to achieve the targets set out in the 5 Environment Year Plan; report upon progress and identify any barriers which need to be overcome for further progress to be made towards achieving the overall Mission.

The Mission Based Approach is predicated on cross-sectoral engagement for solution creation.  It is envisioned that the Challenge Groups are supplemented with Task and Finish Groups (each dealing with one opportunity or barrier) that are given specific tasks to solve, which each contribute to the overall Challenge.  It is proposed that the Challenge Groups will be comprised of the lead person from each of the Task and Finish Groups and be Chaired by a Green City Region Partnership member.  In this way, we will aim to deliver a programme of action that ultimately seeks to deliver the Mission.


GMCA has a history of working in close partnership with a number of key partner organisations.  Over the last 5 year, secondees from Environment Agency have collocate with the GM Environment Team. This initial `free’ resource has led to multiple successful bids for external funding (Natural Course - £12m and IGNITION £5m) and additional EA staff are now collocated on a project funded basis.  All parties have found this approach beneficial, as it allows for more cohesive working, effective knowledge transfer and cooperation building, truly attempting to `do things differently’.  We know this approach can work. To deliver the Clean Growth Mission, we are now seeking other partners who would be willing to operate in this way across the other work areas.  The benefits to the partner organisation include:

  • Building of strong and deep partnerships – going beyond usual collaboration to a more in depth appreciation of organisational priorities, challenges and strengths.
  • Better understanding of how local government works through working with the most progressive city region combined authority – can inform your wider strategy/approach to how you work with local government.
  • Developing proposals and securing external funding
  • Staff development opportunities.

The focus of the `Clean Growth Mission’ is to accelerate the initiation and delivery of the GM 5 Year Environment Plan, specifically through the Challenge and Task Groups described above. Our aim is to:

  • Accelerate deployment of low carbon energy generation and energy efficiency infrastructure
  • Support the accelerated testing and mainstreaming of low carbon innovations (technical, financial and social)
  • Develop mechanisms to ensure local clean growth as a result of these interventions

GMCA is already progressing a number of initiatives which will be of interest to partner organisations including: developing an Energy Innovation Company, supporting collective purchasing of PV/Battery Tech, exploring a retrofit accelerator and developing £m bids for an Energy Transition Region and a Local Energy Market proposals. 

It has only been seven months since the Green Summit 2019, where the Five Year Environment Plan for Greater Manchester was launched. To deliver this ambitious plan, we need all sectors and individuals to play their part in meeting our carbon budget targets, by taking this approach and focusing on key actions, we’re optimistic that together these targets can be delivered.