Manchester City Council spells out five-year action plan to halve emissions

Manchester City Council hopes to approve a new action plan that would commit to halving the council's carbon footprint by 2025, in assistance with the city's wider ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2038.

Manchester set a 2038 net-zero target in 2018

Manchester set a 2038 net-zero target in 2018

The five-year Climate Change Action Plan sets out the measures the Council will introduce to reduce carbon emissions from its buildings, energy use and transport by 50% by 2025. The plan will go before the Council’s Executive for final approval next Wednesday (11 March).

In July 2019, Manchester City Council formally declared a 'Climate Emergency', which saw the ‘Principles of Tackling Climate Change in Manchester’ strategy introduced with an overarching aim of engaging people from all walks of life in climate discussions. Indeed, the framework paved the way for Manchester to set a 2038 net-zero target the year prior.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, said: “The world is waking up to the very real climate crisis which faces us all and Manchester - never a city to shirk a challenge - is determined to play a leading part in tackling it. The next five years are going to be absolutely crucial. To achieve the ambitious goal of Manchester becoming zero carbon by 2038 we are going to have to make rapid and radical progress. 

“As an organisation tackling the climate emergency is one of our key priorities. But this isn’t something the Council can achieve by itself. For Manchester as a whole to become zero carbon by 2038 we need collective action and shared ambition.”

The Council has already reduced its carbon emissions by 48.1% between 2009 and 2019 and will now aim to halve its emissions from around 30,000 tonnes a year to 15,000 tonnes a year by 2025. The new goal is reportedly aligned to the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2C.

Numbers game

According to the Council, 1,800 tonnes of carbon can but cut by retrofitting as many of the 350 building’s in its estate as possible. A further 3,000 tonnes can be reduced through the second phase of this action plan.

A large-scale clean energy generation scheme that includes onsite solar and wind generation on council land, buildings and sites will save an estimated 7,000 tonnes, while a shared underground heating system connected to the Town Hall and other buildings will deliver annual carbon savings of 1,600 tonnes.

The Council will also plan to convert half of its refuse collection vehicles that are reaching end-of-life with 27 new electric vehicles (EVs). It is estimated this will cost £9.95m and will save 900 tonnes of carbon annually. Increasing the number of EVs and reducing staff travel will deliver a combined reduction in carbon emissions of 500 tonnes.

Finally, the continued replacement of city street lighting with LED replacements, which is in its final stage, will save more than 220 tonnes annually.

Manchester City Council will also implement measures to remove carbon from the atmosphere by supporting the Manchester Tree Action Plan, which is set out to plant 1,000 new trees, 1,000 new hedge trees and four community orchards a year.

Last month, CDP published its Cities A-List, revealing the global cities that are leading efforts to tackle climate challenges. Manchester was named in the A-List, with CDP saying it is confident in Greater Manchester’s ability to deliver large and lasting emissions reductions. The city-regions' total carbon footprint fell by 39% between 1990 and 2015, and, since then, multi-million-pound investments have been made in its tram, electricity, walking and cycling infrastructure.

Building on this commitment, the local authority last year made it a mandatory requirement for all new buildings across the city-region to be net-zero emissions on an operational basis by 2028. This requirement was complemented by a ban on new fracking projects, ahead of the UK Government’s national phase-out. As for existing buildings, the local authority is aiming to retrofit at least 60,000 homes with energy-saving devices annually by 2038.

Matt Mace



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