Manchester City Council

Council responds to climate challenge

Details of how the Council is responding to its declaration of a climate emergency will be heard by councillors on a new group set up to scrutinise actions.

The newly-established Climate Change Sub Group Scrutiny Committee, which meets for the first time on Tues 22 October, will receive a number of progress reports.

The Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in July and has committed to the goal of reducing the city’s climate emissions to zero by 2038, or earlier if possible – at least 12 years ahead of the current national target. While the council has successfully cut its own emissions by 48.1% since 2009/10 – exceeding an original target of 41% - we need to go further.

Work is underway on an ambitious action plan for the first five years, 2020-2025, which will set out how the council aims to halve its own emissions (which account for about two per cent of the whole city’s) in that period and how the city as a whole can achieve the same target. With time tight, the first five years will need to see the steepest reductions.

The final version of the action plan, which will be approved by the Council’s Executive in March 2020, will be considered alongside similar plans from a range of partner organisations which together account for about 20 per cent of the city’s carbon emissions.

The Council’s plan could include its waste and recycling contractor moving to an electric fleet, improving electric vehicle charging infrastructure and establishing a retrofit programme across the council’s buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

It has already approved a £10m carbon reduction programme to tackle 13 of its highest emitting buildings including the Velodrome, Wythenshawe Forum and Moss Side Leisure Centre.

There will also be increased use of photovoltaic cells (solar panels), such as at the recently-refurbished Hulme District Office.

Other already visible evidence of this commitment can be seen in work on the Civic Quarter Heat Network, a shared heating system for a number of public buildings including the Town Hall, Central Library and Manchester Central Convention Centre, which will also cut emissions.

Plans for a large scale retrofitting of domestic and commercial buildings across the city, with a particular focus on improving energy efficiency for households in fuel poverty, are also being examined.

And the draft City Centre Transport Strategy aims to reduce the number of car journeys into the city while boosting public transport, walking and cycling options.

Colleagues at Transport for Greater Manchester have also been asked by the Council's Executive Member for Environment to bring forward a report to Greater Manchester Transport Committee on decarbonising public transport.

The Council assumes the responsibility to lead from the front but recognises that it cannot achieve this ambitious target on its own and that everyone in the city needs to play a part. We know many people in the city care deeply about this issue and will look to harness this commitment however we can.

A separate report detailing examples of where people and groups are already making a difference in their communities will also be considered by the sub-group.

The Council's representative has written to Greater Manchester Pension Fund urging it to divest from fossil fuels and bring its carbon neutrality target forward to 2038 in line with Manchester and Greater Manchester ambitions.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, said: “The goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038 or earlier is an enormously difficult undertaking but one we are determined to achieve.

“Not only would Manchester be playing a full and leading part in addressing this global crisis but there would be real health benefits for people here through cleaner air, more active travel and jobs created through the green economy.

“This is a complicated challenge and there are no easy overnight solutions. But we are taking urgent steps to put environmental considerations at the heart of both our operations and decision-making.

“Together we can do this. It will need concerted effort and focus from all of us, it will also need the government and other organisations to rise to the challenge. But failure is really not an option.”

Councillor Annette Wright, who was behind the original climate emergency motion and will chair the new sub-group, said: “There is no issue which should be higher up our agenda than the threat to the planet and doing all we can to ensure that we urgently address the situation now and do not leave a toxic legacy for future generations.

“It's right that we declared a climate emergency and it’s vital that we take the actions to back that up. I and my fellow councillors will be welcoming and encouraging action, as well as holding the council to account where we think it can do better."  

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