Manchester City Council

Low Carbon and Future Growth

At a consultation event this morning organised through the Low Carbon Hub looking at the draft of the refreshed Greater Manchester Strategy. The strategy brings together creating the conditions for economic growth and supporting business with the people side of the equation, tackling worklessness, improving skills, and reducing dependency - city deal with whole place community budgets. The draft also strongly references the commitments in the city-region's Climate Change Action Plan, specifically the 48% carbon reduction target by 2020 and the need to act now to adapt to the already inevitable impacts of climate change.

Environmental businesses are growing at around 4% per year, a little more in Greater Manchester so in a flat economy, it is green business that is leading the way. There are those that argue that no growth, a steady state economy, is the only way to tackle climate change but in my view that is almost as daft as climate change denial. Our population is growing, which after decades of decline is not only welcome but essential to maintaining the social infrastructure and amenities of the city. Levels of worklessness are way too high and that means we need more jobs, and jobs that pay a decent wage. Not all economic growth generates lots of jobs, but without growth no jobs are generated. The trick is increase economic output whilst rapidly reducing fossil fuel dependency.

In some cases the route to this is relatively straightforward. Building retrofit has the potential to reduce energy usage, to support thousands of new jobs, and for social benefit in reduced fuel poverty. It won't always be that easy. Tourism is another high generator of jobs but transport, an essential part of tourism, is a big energy user, and in our carbon dominated world, a big emitter of greenhouse gases. The answer is not to curb tourism but to aim for making travel cleaner and more energy efficient but also to look at our energy requirements and emissions in the round as well as sector by sector. Future growth has to be sustainable in every way or there is no future. Equally there is not much of a future without growth.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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