Andy Burnham on stage with the young campaigners of Bury Youth Cabinet. Credit – Laura Joffre.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has announced a five-year environment plan for the city of Manchester to be carbon neutral by 2038.
The plan, delivered at this year’s GM Green Summit at The Lowry, sets green targets for key areas concerning our daily lives in the city.
These areas include our consumption of energy, the ways in which we travel, our protection of the natural environment and our resilience to climate change.
Mr Burnham has specifically confirmed plans for Greater Manchester to make use of electric taxis and to work towards a zero-emissions bus fleet.
The Mayor also voiced his ambition for the city to ban the use of fracking across its region.
Andy Burnham addressing Greater Manchester’s five-year environment plan. Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.
Many other leaders and academics gathered at the GM Summit to speak about the significance of the five-year plan.
Councillor Alex Ganotis said: “Although we are setting this 2038 target for carbon neutrality in Greater Manchester, unless we start making sustained reductions in carbon emissions over the next five years, we are not going to achieve this target. That is why the five-year plan is so important.”
Councillor Alex Ganotis mentioning the steps that people can take for Manchester to be carbon neutral by 2038. Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.
Lemn Sissay, poet and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, also said at the Summit: “This plan isn’t just about the climate catastrophe. Dirty air chokes all of us and a lack of nature starves our spirit.”
Like other projects, there is also the question of funding to be addressed.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We have to make sure that the environment is a key part of the economy at every level,
“One of the ways we work is through partnership and by getting involved in projects. We can make sure that the environment is designed into projects and often that becomes far a cost-effective way to take action”.
Activist environmental organisations such as Steady State Manchester and Fossil Free GM have however responded to the plan by saying that it is not enough.
They have recommended measures such as declaring a state of Climate Emergency and altogether accelerating the actions in the five-year plan.
Carbon neutral by 2038 will be no good if twice the 2deg carbon budget is used up before then.
We MUST stay within that budget (simple concept: like you do with £).
For that GM needs to do #MoreFaster.#GMGreenCity https://t.co/Y0UuKA9tTf
— Steady State Manchester (@SteadyStateMcr) March 25, 2019
The Mayor of Greater Manchester and supporting councillors however remain optimistic about the green future of Manchester.
Mr Burnham added: “Keep challenging me, keep challenging all of our councils, because we are going to need that challenge if we are going to get where we need to be”.
More information about Greater Manchester’s five-year environment plan can be found here.