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Manchester's zero carbon plan to fight climate change moves forward

A report outlining how Manchester can meet its aim to become a zero carbon city by 2038 will  be considered by Manchester City Council this week.

The city has adopted the ambitious twenty-year target in response to the international scientific consensus that global carbon emissions must be reduced as rapidly as possible to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

The council's Executive will be asked to endorse a draft Zero Carbon Framework, which has been produced by the city's Climate Change Board and Agency, at its meeting on Wednesday 13 March.

The Zero Carbon Framework outlines the approach which will be taken to help Manchester reduce its carbon emissions over the period 2020-2038.  The target was proposed by the Manchester Climate Change Board and Agency, in line with research carried out by the world-renowned Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, based at the University of Manchester.

Manchester’s science-based target includes a commitment to releasing a maximum of 15 million tonnes of CO2 from 2018-2100.  With carbon currently being released at a rate of 2 million tonnes per year, Manchester's ‘carbon budget’ will run out in 2025, unless urgent action is taken. 

Areas for action in the draft Framework include improving the energy efficiency of local homes; generating more renewable energy to power buildings; creating well-connected cycling and walking routes, public transport networks and electric vehicle charging infrastructure; plus the development of a ‘circular economy’, in which sustainable and renewable materials are reused and recycled as much as possible.  

Sixty ‘pioneer’ organisations have so far signed up to play their part in meeting the zero carbon goal.  These include the city council, Manchester City FC, the city’s two universities, Electricity Northwest, housing providers, plus representatives of the local arts, faith and healthcare sectors. 

These pioneers are in the process of developing their own individual action plans to show how they will contribute to the city’s overall carbon savings by reducing their own emissions and also by encouraging their stakeholders to follow suit.  

The city council has calculated that its own carbon emissions amount to around two per cent of the city’s total.  It is working towards a reduction from 2010 levels of 41 per cent by 2020 - including through energy efficiency improvements to existing council buildings, a full LED street lighting replacement programme and the development of a new Civic Quarter Heat Network, which will provide low-carbon power for major buildings in the city centre including Manchester Central Library and the Town Hall Extension. 

The council will also this week become one of the first cities to sign up to the recently-launched 'Step Up Now' initiative on climate change in Europe.  Step Up Now, run by EUROCITIES, is designed to amplify the voices of European cities, regions, businesses and investors in support of increasing the EU's level of ambition on climate change. 

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “I'm proud that Manchester has put forward the ambitious target of becoming a zero carbon city within 20 years.  Only by taking committed action to start reducing emissions now can we play our full part in the international effort to combat climate change, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.   

 “We know that Manchester residents want to see a city which is environmentally sustainable, with cleaner air.  And a zero carbon city will not just be a healthier city - a new wave of employment opportunities will be generated through the growing green sector.   As a forward-looking city, we want to lead the way as a place where innovation flourishes and technologies which help to mitigate the effects of climate change are created.    

“As a council, we're working hard to minimise our own emissions - but the goal of a zero-carbon Manchester is not one which we can meet on our own.  Alongside our fellow pioneer organisations, we hope that all of our residents, businesses and organisations will pledge to reduce their own carbon emissions and contribute towards our shared mission.” 

Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of EUROCITIES, said: “Cities are leaders when it comes to combating climate change and are essential to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.  Inspiring examples abound, such as Manchester's Zero Carbon Framework and ambitious carbon budget, which will help in the fight to limit global warming to below 1.5C degrees. 

"We need this knowledge and experience from cities like Manchester to be taken on board in the development of national and EU climate mitigation and adaption policies - so that we clear a pathway towards a climate neutral Europe by 2050.”

Gavin Elliott, Chair of the Manchester Climate Change Board, said: “Since establishing the Manchester Climate Change Board in early 2018, we’ve been hugely inspired by the city’s council, businesses, residents and partners and their commitment to act on this crucially important issue.  

"The real work starts now – in twelve months time, we need to have in place not only our plan to 2038, but also the commitments and resources in place to deliver it.  I’m confident we can count on the council and our partners to ensure we do just that."

Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood and Manchester Climate Change Board member, said: "It is fantastic to see Manchester leading the way in its ambitions to tackle climate change and become zero carbon by 2038.

"Bruntwood is dedicated to achieving a zero carbon future and is already putting actions into place to help reduce our carbon emissions. This is part of our pledge to the Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Commitment, which aims for new buildings to be net zero carbon by 2030 and older buildings the same by 2050.

"We hope the targets set out in this framework will encourage other businesses across the region, and the UK, to reduce their environmental impact. The science says it's not too late to solve the issue of climate change, but only if we all play our part."

Claire Roumet, Executive Director of Energy Cities, the European association of local authorities in energy transition, said: "If we as a society are going to successfully tackle climate and socio-economic challenges, it will be because cities like Manchester, along with thousands of members of the Energy Cities network, are showing the leadership and determination to act with and on behalf of their citizens.

"Energy Cities looks forward to supporting Manchester City Council in the implementation of the Manchester Zero Carbon Framework 2020-2038 through knowledge sharing amongst of our network of sustainable cities throughout Europe."

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