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Climate action plan is taking shape

An outline of the Council’s action plan for leading the drive for Manchester to play its full part in tackling the climate change emergency in the next five years has been published.

A report which will be considered by councillors on 5 March, sets out the main areas for the Council’s Action Plan 2020-25, setting out how we will at least HALVE the Council’s direct emissions by 2025 and help galvanise Manchester businesses and residents to radically reduce their own emissions.

The Council has committed the city to becoming zero carbon by 2038 or earlier, at least 12 years ahead of the national goal, using science-based targets.

Work is continuing on the full detailed plan - which will go the Council’s Executive for approval on 11 March 2020 - but the report spells out the main areas which the climate change action plan for 2020-2025 will address.

Manchester City Council has already reduced its own carbon emissions by 48.1% since 2009/10 through measures including the retrofitting of council buildings to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency and replacing all 57,000 street lights in the city with LED alternatives (programme due to be completed this year.)

While the Council’s direct emissions only account for around two per cent of the city’s as a whole, this still makes us one of the biggest single emitters and it’s essential that we lead by example as well as using available powers and influence to support and encourage others to follow suit. The council’s plans will complement those of a range of partners’ plans, to be published at the same time.

Headline actions in the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25 include:

Buildings and energy

Around 350 buildings in the Council’s operational estate account for almost 70% of our carbon emissions. We will urgently support retrofitting and energy generation across the Council’s buildings. A second phase of the Carbon Reduction Programme, which is making council buildings more energy efficient, will run from 2020-2025.

We will also use the tools available to us such as planning policies, building standards, strategic regeneration frameworks and the next Local Plan (due to be adopted in 2023) to require the highest environmental standards in new buildings and development.

The operation of the Civic Quarter Heat Network, a shared heating system connecting buildings including the Town Hall, Town Hall extension, Central Library, Manchester Central Convention Complex and Heron House will save 1,600 tonnes of carbon emissions a year from this year, with scope for future expansion.

We will work with Northwards to develop a comprehensive investment programme for council stock they manage to retrofit and increase energy efficiency, including the use of solar panels and heat pumps. We will also work with other housing providers and the private rented sector.

It is anticipated that energy-related emissions will also reduce as the National Grid continues to decarbonise and make greater use of sustainable energy sources.

The completed street light replacement programme will save the Council 8,400 tonnes of carbon emissions and £2m per year.

Transport and travel

The Council will look to replace 29 bin lorries used by the council’s waste collection contractor with electric vehicle equivalents, increase the number of electric vehicles in its own fleet and increase electric vehicle charging points.

We will also continue to champion public transport including bus reform and walking and cycling, and continue to make the case for transformational rail investments such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, improving connections between northern cities.

A new staff travel policy to ensure staff use the most sustainable options possible.

Reduce consumption, including influencing suppliers

In the coming months the Council intends to change its procurement policy (how we buy goods and services) to give greater weight to how environmentally responsible suppliers are, so that those who are doing the most to reduce their carbon emissions are more likely to win council contracts.

Council buildings, events and markets will be single-use plastic free by 2024. We will encourage other events to adopt similar standards through the use of our Sustainable Events Guide and licensing and other regulatory powers.

Adaptation/mitigation

Recognising that even with concerted action climate change is already happening and some impacts are unavoidable the city also needs to take measures to help adapt to climatic extremes such as flooding. Some of these impacts can also help store or even absorb carbon.

The city’s Green and Blue Infrastructure strategy 2015-25, which focuses on investment in parks, open spaces and waterways, complements this goal.

We will support the delivery of the Manchester Tree Action Plan which is setting out to plant 1,000 new trees, 1,000 new hedge trees and four community orchards a year. This will include planting in parks and council-owned open spaces.

Influence

As well as making the best use of the policy and regulatory tools available to encourage low carbon activities, the Council is committed to lobbying and influence others including national government to support this vital agenda – both through funding and policy decisions. This includes working with Manchester Airports Group, and other councils with airports in their boundaries, to put pressure on the government to take actions to accelerate the decarbonisation of air travel.

We are supporting the multi-partner Manchester Climate Change Agency to champion and drive forward citywide action, including underwriting the funding for a new chief executive.

Helping residents and communities play their part will be another vital element of the plan. We’ll be publicising ways that residents can get involved and working with community organisations to include climate change actions in all 32 ward plans.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, said: “Climate change is already happening and the next five years are going to be crucial for the world if its worst impacts are to be limited.

“The threat is a matter of overwhelming scientific consensus but there is an opportunity for forward-looking places such as Manchester to show how collectively, and with a sense of urgency, we can take action to deliver steep reductions in our city’s carbon emissions.  The Council is determined to play a key role in this response and act quickly.

“What we are setting out here is the basis of an ambitious plan for how the council can at least halve our direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 while using the powers, policies and communications channels available to us act as a catalyst for wider change. Taken together this will set the city firmly on the path to becoming carbon zero by 2038.

“There will always be those who say we can go further faster, and we will listen to and heed these challenging voices wherever possible, but the undoubted ambition of these plans must also be informed by realism to ensure improvements are deliverable, sustainable and do not have a disproportionate impact on the city’s most vulnerable people.”

To read the report, go to https://democracy.manchester.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=565&Ver=4.

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