The Council and democracy Zero Carbon Manchester

What we are doing: Projects

We have identified 48 actions that will help us reach our 2025 target. We have organised these into five thematic workstreams, with actions i) for the Council and ii) that contribute to the bigger picture: the city and beyond.

A summary of our commitments in each area is included here - for full details see the Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25 Appendix 1: Actions.

A refresh has been produced for the Climate Change Action Plan in 2022

Buildings and energy

Our commitment is to reduce CO2 emissions from the Council’s operational estate and streetlighting by at least 50% by 2025, and set up plans for a further reduction of 50% between 2025 and 2030. We will support building retrofit and energy generation across the city’s buildings and ensure future development across the city is as close to zero carbon as possible.  

Engagement and Policy Change:

Developing a pipeline of place-based zero carbon projects (including housing retrofit, local energy generation and infrastructure) and work with UK Core Cities and UK Government to develop new investment models and finance streams to deliver these projects, engaging key housing and building stakeholders.

Buildings and energy - key achievements 2020-2022: 

  • Produced a Buildings and Energy Strategy for MCC Estate
  • 18 MCC buildings retrofitted as part of the Estate Decarbonisation programme (Funding: £6.3m MCC and £19.1m Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme) forecasting a total carbon saving of 3,100 tonnes CO2 p.a. Funding now secured for 8 additional buildings
  • Produced a Manchester Build Standard and now embedding into Council decision making
  • Commissioned a feasibility study for large scale renewable energy generation (£35k), recommending taking forward steps for the purchase of a solar farm or Power Purchase Agreement
  • Completed the installation of 55,000 LED Street lights (£32.8m), showing 2021-22 emissions being 13,563 tonnes CO2 (86%) lower than in 2009-10
  • Completed Civic Quarter Heat Network infrastructure with 6 buildings now connected (£26m)
  • Undertaken a stock condition survey of private rented properties across the city
  • Manchester City Council now has a Local Area Energy Plan for Manchester, which was developed as part of the Greater Manchester Local Energy Market project
  • Supported One Manchester with a Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme bid to retrofit social housing in Beswick (£7.8m)

Engagement and policy change

Working in partnership with TfGM and Greater Manchester stakeholders to continue securing funding to tackle air pollution, by increasing active travel opportunities and access to low-cost public transport, to improve the overall liveability of the city.

Transport and travel

We will reduce the Council's direct emissions by replacing fleet vehicles (including waste) with electric vehicles and installing charging infrastructure. Our commitment is to reduce our emissions by 35-45% by 2025. We will also support the shift to sustainable and active travel for all through our work with Transport for Greater Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and the Government. 

Transport and travel - key achievements 2020-2022: 

  • 50% of waste collection fleet (27 vehicles) have now been replaced with electric vehicles forecasting an annual carbon saving of 900 tonnes CO2 (£9.8m)
  • 37 fully electric and 2 hybrid vehicles leased as part of the MCC fleet
  • 26 electric cargo bikes and six electric cargo trailers purchased by MCC (£174k Energy Savings Trust grant, £106k MCC, £19k partner investment)
  • 166 cycle to work scheme applications by MCC staff submitted during 20/21
  • Publication of a new MCC Staff Travel Policy
  • Manchester Airport Group joined the Manchester Climate Change Partnership and founder member of UK Jet Zero Council

We are also looking at supporting Electric Vehicle charging across the city. Read more about EV charging in Manchester 

Reducing consumption-based emissions and influencing suppliers 

All Council premises will phase out the use of single use plastics and other non-recyclable products by 2024. This extends to businesses operating on Council-owned land. The council is working to reduce the emissions associated with the goods, services, and works contracts that the council procures. There are different elements to this work but one of the main innovations has been the rolling out of a 10% weighting in the evaluation of tenders to give additional focus on climate change and the environment in the supply chain.

Engagement and policy change

To support businesses, particularly smaller organisations as a key priority for MCC, both signposting to external support that is already available to businesses, such as the Growth Company and building a range of in-house tools and guidance.

To support external stakeholders to adopt more sustainable practices, including food and reducing the use of Single Use Plastics on Council land.

Reducing consumption-based emissions and influencing suppliers - key achievements 2020-2022: 

  • Acted on the findings of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research into the City's consumption emissions, strengthening the environmental weighting for tenders of goods and services
  • Introduced a 10% social value weighting for the environment to increase the total social value weighting to 30%
  • Updated the Council's supplier and commissioner toolkit to support existing and prospective suppliers to reduce their CO2 emissions and respond to the social value environmental weighting
  • Created and appointed a member of staff to lead on MCC’s commitment to reduce the use of avoidable single use plastics and deliver sustainable events
  • Added capacity to the Integrated Commissioning & Procurement team to support monitoring delivery of CO2 emissions in contracts and to challenge specifications to ensure that low carbon options are fully considered.

Climate Adaptation, Carbon Storage and Carbon Sequestration  

Nature based solutions will be developed to support delivery of our Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy. We will establish an intelligence-led approach to tree and hedge planting, with the species and quantity of hedges and trees across the city being informed by a dedicated tree opportunity mapping assessment: planting the right trees in the right places. By doing this we are committing to ensuring the city’s infrastructure is more resilient to climate change.

Engagement and policy change

Engage with green infrastructure stakeholders within the Council and citywide to share best practice, foster collaboration and where possible encourage increased engagement by local communities with their green spaces. As part of the Local Plan preparation process, policy options around green infrastructure and adaptation to climate change will be given full consideration.

Climate adaptation, carbon storage and sequestration - key achievements 2020-2022: 

  • Built a ‘sponge’ park in West Gorton as part of the Horizon 2020 GrowGreen Project (opened June 2020) (£1.6m Horizon 2020)
  • MCC commissioned a River Valley Strategy 'Our Rivers Our City' (completed)
  • Completion of the GMCA-led IGNITION project (£58k)
  • MCC appointed a fixed-term Tree Officer post to implement the Tree Action Plan (time limited post) alongside a £1m MCC tree planting budget
  • Planted 7,021 trees (4,401 trees, 2,620 hedge trees) and 5 community orchards across the city (£148k DEFRA)
  • MCC commissioned Tree Opportunity Map for Manchester (£50k)

Influencing Behaviour and Being a Catalyst for Change 

Although the Council’s direct CO2 emissions only make up approximately 2% of the city’s total CO2 emissions, we have a unique role to lead by example and influence the behaviour of others. We are committed to using every opportunity to engage, empower and equip our staff and elected members with the knowledge and skills to make a positive difference. We will influence behaviour change, develop positions to lobby and work in partnership with Greater Manchester and UK Government bodies to take more action to tackle the climate emergency. 

Engagement and policy change:

Influencing, lobbying, and working in partnership with Greater Manchester stakeholders and UK Government to take more action to tackle the climate emergency with specific focus on the funding and investment needed to allow the City to make the changes needed to deliver the City's climate change objectives.

Influencing behaviour and being a catalyst for change - key achievements 2020-2022: 

  • Silver Carbon Literate Accreditation (15% of workforce – 1050 members of staff) - March 2021 (£86k MCC revenue 20-22)
  • Embedded zero carbon as a priority into Council Service Plans
  • Three Neighbourhood Climate Change Officer appointed (£130k)
  • Climate Change Action Plans developed across all 32 Wards
  • 49 neighbourhood climate action projects delivered during 20-21, utilising £91.2k of Neighbourhood Investment Funds
  • First city climate change communications campaign delivered during summer 2020 (£32k)
  • Delivered presentation to the Oxford Road Corridor Partnership in January 2020 sharing the learnings from Triangulum project
  • Public and private lobbying of the GM Pension Fund to divest from investment in fossil fuels
  • Schools Bee Green Conference held at Connell Co-op College on 30 June 2022 (£13.7k MCC revenue 22/23)
  • Developed a proposition to UK Government in relation to COP26 being held in Glasgow, leading to engagement in UK Cities Climate Investment Commission (UK3CI) and developing a pipeline of investible projects
  • Manchester Work & Skills Strategy 2022-27 featuring Green Skills, adopted by Executive Committee on the 29 June 2022

View our quarterly reports and annual reports for detailed updates on our progress. 

Emissions savings

Meeting the target of halving our emissions by 2025 requires a reduction of around 13 per cent every year. At 25,501 tonnes of CO2, emissions in 2020-21 were 21% lower (-6,783 tonnes CO2) than in the previous year (2019-20).  The carbon savings have been created by a range of proactive measures as detailed within the Annual Report, additional savings were delivered by the decarbonisation of the national grid and by the changes in Council operations brought on by the pandemic.  

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