Todd Holden, director for low carbon at the Business Growth Hub, outlines the importance of Greater Manchester’s climate change strategy and the local benefits of taking action.
With international climate change discussions in Paris now upon us, I’m conscious and hopeful that a lot will happen over the next few weeks on the global stage. So, to avoid the risk of redundant comment, I thought I’d focus on something closer to home.
Greater Manchester is currently refreshing its joint Climate Change and Low Emission Implementation Plan, which will set the direction of travel for this great region until 2020. Greater Manchester was the first region outside of London to adopt a climate change strategy, which targets a 48 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 against a 1990 baseline.
In terms of hard numbers, this means we need to reduce our annual CO2 emissions to 11 million tonnes by 2020. To put this into context – in 2013, the last year we have accurate data for, we emitted over 15.3 million tonnes.
The target is unquestionably challenging, not least because it partly depends on an effective national energy policy, a phrase which is fast moving from omnishambles to oxymoron. But the prize is more than worth it. Excluding all the environmental, health, risk reduction, market development, inward investment and security of supply benefits, Greater Manchester would be better off to the tune of £1 billion a year just by simply not having to buy the fuel needed to create all this CO2.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that cities are moving faster than governments. Indeed, through the Devolution and Northern Powerhouse agenda, our region is well placed to make this a reality. So whether you work in Paris or Prestwich, there are two simple questions: if not us, then who? If not now, then when?
The public consultation on Greater Manchester’s 2016-2020 climate change strategy and implementation plan is open until 11 December 2015. To respond to the consultation, click here.
This article first appeared in the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce 53 Degrees magazine.