Want a low carbon Northern Powerhouse? Have your say on GM's new climate plan
With global talks on climate change in Paris just weeks away, Greater Manchester has launched a consultation to ensure that its house is in order in terms of meeting its commitments to reduce carbon emissions and make sure that the city region is ready to adapt to the changes that are set to come regardless of whether we hit the ambitious target of keeping the world under 2°C of climate change.
In a wide-ranging plan covering buildings, energy, the natural environment, transport and our everyday patterns of consumption and production of goods, the plan set out by Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Hub has five specific goals that it wants to aim for by 2020.
These goals are:
- A rapid transition to a sustainable low carbon economy;
- A reduction in Greater Manchester’s carbon emissions of 48% compared to 1990;
- Being prepared for and actively adapting to a rapidly changing climate;
- A shift in personal and collective behaviour towards more low-carbon lifestyles and practices; and
- Tough action to reduce air pollution and the impact it has on ill-health in Greater Manchester.
The chair of the Low Carbon Hub, Cllr Sue Derbyshire, the leader of Stockport MBC, called on everyone in Greater Manchester to join in the fight against climate change and be part of the consultation:
“Our targets are challenging and cannot be achieved by Local Authorities working in isolation. There is no single intervention which will reduce emissions sufficiently; it will require a wide range of action and choices across all aspects of society and business.
"There’s no magic bullet on climate change or single course of action that will bring us to safety. What does exist is a suite of responses to the way we live, work, travel and share our towns and cities that can help us genuinely claim to be a low carbon city."
“There’s no magic bullet on climate change or single course of action that will bring us to safety. What does exist is a suite of responses to the way we live, work, travel and share our towns and cities that can help us genuinely claim to be a low carbon city.
“Those responses will be stronger if we can count on our many partners in business and the public sector, as well as people and families in communities right across Greater Manchester, to connect with our plan, and play their part in making positive change happen.”
The draft plan to 2020 includes action on the energy performance of Greater Manchester’s buildings, on the generation, distribution and trading of energy, on the protection of our natural environment in the face of climate change, on transport emissions and related air quality issues, and on how we produce or consume food and other goods.
The consultation asks whether the actions are appropriate and, vitally, whether the aims and ambitions can be realised.
For the first time air quality objectives have been included in the plan, underpinned by estimates from public Health England that 1,000 people each year in Greater Manchester die because of increasingly poor air quality.
For the first time air quality objectives have been included in the plan, underpinned by estimates from public Health England that 1,000 people each year in Greater Manchester die because of increasingly poor air quality, including the particulates (PM10s) emitted by cars, buses and freight.
Some groups, including the young, old and those with existing lung or health conditions are particularly at risk.
According to the GM Low Carbon Hub, with global temperatures already up by 1°C since the last century and with many predicting that a 2°C ceiling will be tough to hit, it is time for Greater Manchester to put climate change at the heart of its future and resilience against climate change on its list of pressing and immediate priorities.
Rochdale MBC Chief Executive and Lead Officer of the Low Carbon Hub, Steve Rumbelow said:
“We have to play our part in making really ambitious cuts in carbon, but we also need to make sure that we’re building a resilient city for the future that’s ready for everything that climate change could wish to throw at it in the not too distant future.”
"Doing nothing is not an option, and it’s also critical to make clear that we have much to win, too, if we move swiftly and decisively."
“Doing nothing is not an option, and it’s also critical to make clear that we have much to win, too, if we move swiftly and decisively. Low carbon goods and services businesses are already employing 37,000 people across the city region with £5.4bn of sales and 4% year on year growth.
Tackling climate change makes economic as well as environmental sense; recent data suggests that achieving the 48% carbon target would, in 2020, prevent an estimated £1 billion per annum from leaving the GM economy in direct costs alone.”
The draft plan for Greater Manchester sets out ambitious and challenging targets for over five million tonnes of CO2 reductions to be made before 2020 through local projects and initiatives, but also through collaborative national action, where many of Greater Manchester’s emissions are dictated through national priorities, not least through the energy mix in the National Grid.
The response in the plan does not, critically, represent a standing start.
Successes outlined in the plan which have already been achieved include:
- 27,000 ‘retrofit’ measures taken in domestic homes to reduce carbon emissions since 2011;
- 72MW of renewable energy installed across GM, and £110m of new energy research
- A GM-wide electric vehicle charging network and large-scale investment in cycling and public transport; and
- Major programmes of work with GM’s businesses to reduce emissions and boost efficiency.
The consultation around the new climate change plan, and the opportunity to respond to it, will be online on the Greater Manchester’s website until December 2015 and can be found here.
The Climate Change Implementation Plan is available to download here.
Contributed by Helen Bidwell
Contributed by Helen Bidwell
Contributed by Helen Bidwell
Steve is co-founder and CEO of Creative Concern. He specialises in ethical and sustainability issues, integrated campaigns, city strategies, brand development and creating strange installations out of trees, lights and beautiful type. Particular areas of expertise include climate change, place making, transport, food issues and the natural environment.