Citywide framework update will spell out the size of the climate change challenge

The key elements of an update to Manchester’s Climate Change Framework 2020-25 will be presented to a council scrutiny committee on Thursday 21 July.

The Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee will consider a report which looks in more detail at the scale of collective action required for the city to reduce its emissions by 50 per cent – the first major milestone in the transition to becoming zero carbon by 2038 – and sets some challenging targets.

Manchester is currently not on track to meet the framework’s initial 50% reduction target and the draft update focuses on the actions needed to reduce direct emissions from the city’s buildings and ground transport – which together account for 86 per cent of its direct emissions - as well as how the city needs to radically increase renewable energy generation. Urgent action is needed to ‘catch up’ and get back on a pathway which will enable the city to become zero carbon by 2038 and stay within its scientifically-based carbon budget.

The report, produced by Manchester Climate Change Agency on behalf of Manchester Climate Change Partnership, recognises that while the Council has an important leadership role it will require collective action at all levels – individual, organisational, local and national government – for the city to achieve its climate change target.

In setting out the scale of action required, the update looks at the potential investment required – which will need to be met through private as well as public funding – as well as the carbon savings which can be achieved and the financial savings and other benefits that transitioning to zero carbon would help unlock.

The report also sets out the wider benefits to Manchester if the targets are achieved including warmer, cheaper to heat homes, healthier citizens and jobs in the new green economy.

The scrutiny committee is being invited to comment on the draft update, which will also be the subject of public engagement before a final version is published in September 2022.

The reports set out the level of action which modelling shows is required to reach the initial 50 per cent reduction target:

Buildings account for 64% of the city’s direct emissions.

To reach a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from the city’s buildings would require £1.2bn of investment – the modelling suggests.

84,000 Manchester homes will need to be retrofitted and all new homes would need to meet Passivhaus standard.

There would need to be a 61% reduction in energy demand from commercial premises, a 45% reduction from industrial buildings and a 58% reduction from industrial buildings and processes.

Ground transport is responsible for 24% of the city’s direct emissions. Some 95 per cent of this is from on-road vehicles – cars, buses, vans and motorbikes.

To reach the 50 per cent target, it is estimated that there will need to be a 30 per cent reduction in overall distance travelled.

20 per cent of journeys will need to by public transport and another 20 per cent by active travel (walking and cycling.)

And 80 per cent of remaining passenger miles will have to be made using electric or hybrid vehicles.

Renewable Energy currently makes up 39.3% of the energy in the UK but Manchester contributes only 0.06% of this.

To reach zero carbon the city needs to make a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and increase its renewable energy generation.

Modelling shows that to reach the 1,534 MW of renewable the city needs, we will need 35 times more than current levels.

The update suggests that up to 35 per cent of this renewable energy could be produced in Manchester, predominantly from small scale solar PV.

As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these areas, the framework update also looks at the importance of adaptations and resilience to ensure the city can manage the real and immediate impacts of climate change which are already being felt – such as the increased risk of flooding. Nature-based solutions will play an important role.

There is also a need for changes in how we behave as consumers – reducing waste by moving from a ‘throwaway’ culture and eating less meat and dairy.

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment, said: “This update to the city’s Climate Change Framework is a challenging and important piece of work. What is sets out will take enormous effort and sustained focus to achieve. While there is much that we can do at a city and Greater Manchester level, the report recognises that only with substantial policy changes from Government can we hope to achieve the depth of change required.

“None of us can ignore the fact that based on the current trajectory Manchester is not on track to meet the city’s target of becoming zero carbon by 2038. It’s not too late to get back on track – but it will take a huge collective push.

“As an organisation, the Council needs to keep leading by example to halve our own direct carbon emissions by 2025 – we're showing what can be done with a concerted focus, whether it’s decarbonising our buildings, electrifying our vehicles or investing in renewable energy.

“We are also showing leadership through our policies and plans – for example our new Housing Strategy and emerging Local Plan both put real emphasis on zero and low carbon development and we are recognising the fundamental importance of our green spaces and rivers.

“And we’re continuing to help create the infrastructure which enables Manchester people to make sustainable choices by improving walking and cycling facilities and public transport, and supporting Greater Manchester’s strategy to boost electric vehicle charging points.

“In the months ahead we’ll be sharing more information with residents about the steps they can take too to contribute to this citywide mission.

“This updated framework gives us a strong platform for further action. From large organisations to businesses and communities we must all play our part in meeting this urgent challenge. We also need Government to prove that they are taking tackling climate change as seriously as we are – putting in place policies which enable and drive forward action. For example, funding to retrofit residential properties to make them more energy efficient would help people with the cost of living crisis as well as supporting climate action.”

Mike Wilton, Chair of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership said: “These are challenging targets – but the rewards for the city will be great. The heatwave this summer and the storms and floods earlier this year, show how a changing climate is impacting people’s lives in Manchester and around the world. But addressing climate change is more than just about climate. Success in achieving this plan helps create a healthy, green, socially just Manchester where everyone can thrive.

“This is an update to our plan is for the whole city. Developed in partnership across the city and based on the best and latest data and modelling available to us, it sets out how citizens, organizations, businesses, and local and national government can play their part.

“This draft is being brought to the council’s Scrutiny Committee as part of a wider engagement with the Manchester community on our plans. We would love to hear your comments, and we in the partnership look forward to working with everyone in Manchester to achieve success.”


Manchester is one of very few cities to have its own scientifically-calculated carbon budget, which was developed working with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at the University of Manchester. This limits direct emissions for the city to 15 million tonnes of C02 over the period 2018-2100 (The budget allocation is almost entirely before 2038 but it does allow for a small amount of residual emissions after that period. 

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