Hundreds of residents, businesses and community groups – including 300 youngsters from schools across Greater Manchester – joined together to launch the region’s environmental plan on Monday.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, used his speech at the summit to respond to calls from young people in the region – and across the globe – to take urgent action on climate change. The city region’s bold ambition is to be carbon-neutral by 2038, 12 years’ ahead of the Government’s own target.
The Mayor set out how devolution can speed up the urgent action needed to be taken on climate change. While the old Westminster system is creaking under the strain of Brexit, public bodies, businesses and communities across Greater Manchester are pulling together to keep the city region moving forward.
The Paris-aligned, science based, plan sets out how Greater Manchester will become one of the globe’s healthiest, cleanest and greenest city-regions. The radical Environment Plan follows extensive engagement, including last year’s first Green Summit. The Mayor highlighted not only the environmental necessity, but the economic opportunities for everyone in acting now. These included:
- The largest Clean Air Zone outside of London, covering a population of nearly three million people across 500 square miles.
- GM is also the first English region to come up with detailed proposals to substitute fossil fuels with low-carbon energy alternatives by 2038; as part of this all of the region’s ten councils are implementing planning policies which create a ‘presumption’ against fracking.
- The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework sets out plans for homes, jobs and the environment to support the city region’s 2038 carbon neutral commitment. A key element of this is to require all new development to be net zero carbon by 2028, as well as new measures for greater energy efficiency and on-site energy generation in new developments well before then.
- The investment in building retrofit and renewable energy required to meet Greater Manchester’s ambition could create 55,000 local jobs. This includes training the city region’s workforce with the skills to make Greater Manchester a global leader in the industry.
- Greater Manchester has also produced the first city-region wide plan to drive down avoidable single-use plastics. #PlasticFreeGM asks businesses, organisations and individuals to pledge to take action. More than 80 tourism and hospitality businesses have already discarded the use of plastic straws for the more sustainable `bee straw’, with nearly half a million sold to date.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Young people across Greater Manchester and the rest of the globe have stood up and called for politicians to take urgent action on climate change. I want to say today we are listening. I’m the determined that we invest in young people and give you all hope for the future. Greater Manchester wants to be carbon neutral by 2038. Our plan is the UK’s first science based commitment for a city-region like ours, and one of the first of its kind globally.”
“Cities and city-regions will make the difference on climate change and, in decarbonising by 2038, Greater Manchester can create a blueprint for every other city in the world. It wouldn’t be the first time. We can change ourselves, and we can inspire change in others.”
Cllr Alex Ganotis, Portfolio Lead for Green City Region, added: “We face urgent and significant environmental challenges in Greater Manchester – the global impacts of climate change and environmental decline have been widely acknowledged as among the greatest economic and public health threats of this century.
“Our Five Year Environment Plan sets out how we will tackle these challenges in Greater Manchester, meeting our environmental responsibilities, alongside securing our economic future and wellbeing. To do this, it sets out a range of policies and commitments, as well as proposing actions that we all need to take to secure an excellent environment for our city region and contribute our fair share to tackling global climate change.
“Greater Manchester has a history of industrial and social innovation and we need to harness this to make sure everyone here can grow up and live in a clean and green city region, with good quality housing and secure jobs in the future economy.”
Simon Clouston, WSP Technical Director, who has been involved in several working groups as part of the environmental plan, concluded: “WSP is committed to supporting the city in delivering this vision that will bring sustainable benefits for many generations to come.
“One area of work that’s very exciting is the development of the Biodiversity Net Gain guidance, due for publication later this year. This is a significant project for WSP that looks at how, as a city, we can ensure any development undertaken leaves its biodiversity in better shape than when it started.
“Greater Manchester is the first authority in the UK to have such a city-wide study and it is leading the way in terms of finding solutions to support our wildlife and natural habitats. Year on year the UK is losing almost 1% of its biodiversity in terms of abundance and distribution of wildlife, so this work has never been more important.”