Greater Manchester APPG meeting sets green goals for the city-region

22 March 2018

The latest meeting of the Greater Manchester APPG focused on strategies to achieve Mayor Andy Burnham’s ambitious plans for a carbon neutral city-region.

In his mayoral manifesto, Andy Burnham pledged to set out his ambitions for Manchester to become a “world-leading carbon neutral, green and clean city-region.” He delivered this in the form of the Green Summit which took place on 21st March. Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, linked the Summit to other devolved projects and said it showed the importance of collaboration between local and national government.

The ideas laid out at the Green Summit have a role to play in the Local Industrial Strategy. Simon Noakes, GMCA’s Executive Director for Policy and Strategy, told the meeting that one of the four pillars of this Strategy is ‘clean growth.’ The sector already makes up 13% of the regional economy, and the city-region should “capitalise further” on this. Noakes believes that “the economic and environmental agendas are interlinked.”

The APPG heard the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research’s suggestions for the city-region to reduce carbon emissions. The analysis found that Greater Manchester needs immediate improvement if it is to meet international climate goals.

A number of the Tyndall Centre’s targets focused on energy use. The study found that by 2050, Greater Manchester should increase installation of solar panels to provide 11% of the region’s energy and use bioenergy sources to meet 17%. 80-100% of households and commercial buildings should be heated electrically by 2050.

To become greener, Greater Manchester needs to reduce heat demand. The meeting heard that around 60% of homes should be subject to insulation measures by 2050. The Tyndall Centre suggested that 100% of buses and cars in the region should be carbon neutral in 32 years’ time. The analysis also advised that by 2035, Greater Manchester should aim for a 25% reduction in travel distances (in kilometres).

Whilst the APPG attendees were keen to follow the Tyndall Centre’s advice, they also raised other concerns for Greater Manchester. Cllr Alex Ganotis, of Stockport, said that the city-region must provide a commercial incentive to build green housing until it becomes commercially viable. Jim McMahon MP spoke of the benefits of planting trees to improve the environment and quality of an area. He gave the example of one area that had planted 300 trees, only to see local house prices increase by £10,000. Greater Manchester is ‘putting the cart before the horse’ in terms of greener transport, Liz McInnes suggested. The Manchester Evening News is reporting that bus services are being cut – currently, there is little incentive for someone to leave their car at home.

Whilst the region is currently lobbying for greater devolved powers and funding, going green must be a ‘joint endeavour’ between Greater Manchester and national government. Simon Noakes finished the meeting by highlighting the importance of Greater Manchester’s green ambitions: if the city-region makes a serious impact, this could lead to greater change nationwide.