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Manchester council has issued a call to ‘collective action’ on the climate crisis after unveiling ambitious proposals to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Having pledged to be carbon-neutral within 18 years, the town hall wants to reduce its output by making changes to its buildings, energy consumption and transport fleet.

Nearly 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide has been cut in the last decade, though the council still produces around 30,000 tonnes.

Bosses have been criticised by an environmental group for achieving ‘virtually nothing’ since declaring a climate emergency last year.

But the council say their climate change action plan recognises a need to move at a quicker pace, with a raft of measures aimed at bringing harmful emissions down.

Buildings, streetlights and energy use

The council wants to retrofit as many of the 350 buildings it owns with more efficient technology to allow for improved energy efficiency and heating solutions.

The first phase of this carbon reduction programme is expected to save 1,800 tonnes a year once finished, with the second phase cutting a further 3,000 tonnes.

A large-scale clean energy generation scheme, involving solar panels and wind turbines, is also planned to be rolled out across the city - including council housing and private sites.

While the council is still working on the feasibility of the project, it could reduce emissions by 7,000 tonnes.

A scheme to replace the city’s street lighting with low energy LED lighting, which will be finished this year, will save 220 more tonnes a year

The Civic Quarter Network, a shared underground heating system, could save another 1,600 tonnes once completed in 2023/24.

The town hall and its extension, Manchester Art Gallery and Central Library would all be connected, with the network due to start operation in 2021.

A scheme to replace the city’s street lighting with low energy LED lighting, which will be finished this year, will save 220 more tonnes a year

Transport and travel

Nearly £10m would be spent replacing half of the council’s diesel-chugging bin lorries with 27 new vehicles, delivering another 900 tonnes a year carbon saving.

A business case and funding is expected to be secured this year.

The number of electric vehicles used by the council would also increase to save another 400 tonnes a year, and they will cut 100 tonnes a year through reductions in staff travel.

The council are hoping to increase the number of electric vehicles used (Image: PA)

Incentives will also be given to council staff to commute to work more sustainably including ‘salary sacrifice’ schemes for bus, rail, tram and cycling to work.

Additional investment will also be put into improvements to cycling and walking networks, with a number of schemes already approved through the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Challenge Fund.

A greener city

Manchester’s existing tree coverage stores 124,330 tonnes of carbon, absorbs 4,980 tonnes and removes 84 tonnes of pollution.

If put in financial terms, these benefits are worth over £3m each year.

The council wants to plant 2,000 trees and hedge trees and four community orchards a year.

Influencing behaviour and promoting change

Manchester council’s direct carbon dioxide emissions make up around 2pc of the city’s total emissions - but town hall bosses want to lead by example.

Under the plan they will work with - and continue to fund - the Manchester Climate Change Agency to establish community engagement activities across the city.

Businesses will also be encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint and sign up to the zero-carbon ambition.

There are also hopes that councillors and senior officers can influence change amongst larger organisations - namely the Greater Manchester Pension Fund - and encourage decarbonisation.

What does the council say?

Councillor Angeliki Stogi, executive member for the environment, believes the next five years will be ‘absolutely crucial’ for the city.

“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.

“To achieve the ambitious goal of Manchester becoming zero carbon by 2038 we are going to have to make rapid and radical progress.

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"Tackling the climate emergency is one of the council’s key priorities - but it’s not something it can achieve on its own."

Coun Stogi added: "For Manchester as a whole to become zero carbon by 2038 we need collective action and shared ambition.

“As well as playing our full part that will mean harnessing the power of the city’s people and organisations. I believe this ambitious plan is a very important milestone in our journey.”

The five-year action plan will be scrutinised by councillors on March 4 before being considered for approval by the executive on March 11.


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