The Council and democracy Zero Carbon Manchester

What we aim to do 

Our mission is to make Manchester a healthy, green, socially just city where everyone can thrive.  Our target is to become a zero carbon city by 2038. This is 12 years ahead of the Government’s target for the UK of 2050.  

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(See a transcript of our Zero Carbon Manchester film)

In 2009 we launched the city’s first plan for collective climate action, called Manchester: A Certain Future. We have continued to lead this agenda by working in partnership with our major organisations and through the establishment of the Manchester Climate Change Agency and Partnership. We have also led by example by reducing the Council’s direct carbon emissions by 54.7% between 2010 and 2020. This exceeded the target we set ourselves of 41%.  

However, reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summit showed the world that the goalposts had moved. Drastically!

What this meant was that, if we carried on at the same rate of emission reductions, it simply wasn’t going to be enough to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius) compared to pre-industrial levels. Delaying global reductions would result in catastrophic climate change and Manchester responded by declaring a climate emergency in July 2019. Following on from this declaration, the Council made a new commitment: this time, we will halve our carbon emissions again, but in the next five years, not 10.  

How we will do this

Although the Council’s direct CO2 emissions only make up about 2% of the city’s total, we have powers and influence over a range of important areas such as planning, building regulation, housing, transport and economic growth. 

Our Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25 sits alongside the citywide framework produced by Manchester Climate Change Partnership. The framework sets out what Manchester collectively needs to do to 'play its full part in limiting the effects of climate change', whereas the Climate Change Action Plan will be delivered by the Council.  

The Climate Change Action Plan is split into actions that the Council can take to reduce our own emissions and actions we can take to support the city to achieve its climate change ambitions.  While we are reducing our direct emissions, we are also supporting and influencing others in the city to decarbonise. By working on key infrastructure projects and leading by example, we believe we can make it easier for our residents, schools, and businesses to make zero or low carbon choices.  

This is our opportunity to rebalance the current use of city centre space, promote sustainable and active travel, improve air quality, plant more trees, end fuel poverty and improve the environment across all the city’s neighbourhoods. In doing so, we can provide a better quality of life for all our residents and help our city to grow sustainably.

Read more about what we've been doing - our projects

We take climate change seriously 

The goal of reducing carbon emissions is now embedded in everything we do. From building standards for our capital programmes to rules on how we buy goods and services (a 10% weighting is given to how contractors will reduce their carbon emission.)  

Schemes supporting the city’s climate change ambitions are also right at the heart of the city’s post-coronavirus Economic Recovery and Investment Plan. Some £289m worth of projects, including a proposal to retrofit 10,500 social homes over four years to cut carbon emissions and energy costs, are included. 

We’re not just decarbonising the Council because we have to meet Government guidelines: we want to continue to exceed targets and provide frameworks for others to follow and improve the lives of people living in our city and beyond.

Who we are: the Council 

The senior responsible officer governing Zero Carbon is the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, which demonstrates our commitment to combating climate change at the highest level. 

There are five themed work areas, bringing together groups of ‘action owners’. Each group meets twice quarterly to explore, problem solve and review progress. On top of this, the five theme leads meet every month with the senior responsible officer to stay connected, troubleshoot any problems and identify new opportunities.

Who we are: the city 

We have established a devolved, partnership-based approach to climate change action in Manchester, one that requires every single resident, school, and organisation to be actively involved. It has been designed to enable more people and organisations to join our efforts on climate change. 

As part of this movement, we established the Manchester Climate Change Agency (MCCA) in 2015 and the Manchester Climate Change Partnership (MCCP) in 2018 to make community outreach and the bigger picture more achievable.  

MCCP and MCCA are responsible for driving actions outside of the Council. Leading by example, working together, and helping make the low carbon choices the easiest ones, will ultimately help us achieve our goal. 

Who we are: Greater Manchester 

We also work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and other partner organisations at a Greater Manchester level to deliver change across the city region.  

For example, working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the other nine local authorities, we are supporting the introduction of a GM-wide Clean Air Zone - the largest such zone outside London. For more information visit 

We're supporting GMCA’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy which aims to make us a beacon city region by 2030 where residents, businesses and visitors know if they choose to travel by electric vehicle they can charge confidently and conveniently.  

This principle - making it easier to make the most environmentally-friendly travel choices - also underpins the City Centre Transport Strategy, developed jointly with Salford City Council. The plan will see 90% of morning peak trips into the centre made on foot, by cycle or on public transport by 2040. To find out more visit 


We are championing transparency and accountability and, in doing so, we make our annual and quarterly update reports publicly available. These reports contain progress updates against each of the actions in the Plan as well as emissions data for the Council’s buildings, streetlights, waste collection, operational fleet and business travel. 

Get involved

Find out more how you can take action and join us on our zero carbon mission:

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