The Mayor of Greater Manchester remains committed to 2038 net zero target

  • Friday, October 6, 2023
  • Posted By The Growth Company

The Energy Innovation Agency was delighted to attend and exhibit at the GM Green Summit earlier this week, providing a great opportunity to network and connect with a broad range of organisations and individuals all committed to the common net zero goal.

This was the 6th Green Summit, held by Greater Manchester Combined Authority at the Lowry Theatre, and in this year’s presentations Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, reiterated his commitment to the city’s net zero target – to become the first city in the UK to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2038.  

Mr Burnham admitted it is an ambitious target and more work needs to be done on multiple fronts. He announced his plans to build 30,000 truly affordable net zero homes for rent by 2038. In addition, he also promised to improve technical education as an alternative to university with the aim to bridge the skills gap for the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green economy. 

Last month, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, announced the scrapping of several key green targets – including the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, which has been widely considered by the public as a major backtracking in environmental protection. Burnham branded the government's U-turn on climate policy as “dangerous, defeatist, and divisive.” 

“To make what should be the long-term direction of the country that gets everyone behind – to throw it out as a culture war – is so depressing. It’s such a wrong turn at this particular moment in time... We don’t want culture wars in Greater Manchester. … We stick to the course. A green future is a better future.” 

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

When addressing a question Amy House, Director of the Green Economy, raised, "How much can innovation and behaviour change close the gap in GM becoming carbon neutral in 2038?” Andy Burnham stressed the importance of having a major innovation in skill and technical education to prepare our workforce for the upcoming green economy. With that in mind, the mayor proposed the Greater Manchester Baccalaureate, the country’s first integrated technical education system and promised to focus on bringing the transformation needed in his next term as the city mayor should he be re-elected, to provide young people in the city region with a clear alternative to the university route, providing post-16 education that prepares young people with the skills needed to support the green economy. 

One of the panellists in the Mayor’s Question Time session, Iain Bevan, Commercial Manager of Daikin, acknowledged the need for a huge behavioural change to tackle the challenges of carbon emissions. He highlighted that the current way of thinking in power generation and consumption is based on using high-carbon, high temperature fossil fuels, which is hugely different from the low-carbon, low temperature sustainable energy sources that we need to transition to. To trigger the necessary behavioural change, consumer awareness of the need for a greener way of thinking and innovation from corporations to help consumers manage their energy costs are essential. 

Besides the presentations on the stage, multiple workshops held at the event provided platforms for attendees to discuss in-depth, a range issues affecting the journey to net zero. For example, in the Bee Net Zero workshop, representatives from different organisations and sectors joined together to discuss how to accelerate and profit from the transition to Net Zero. Kevin Aisbitt of the Energy Innovation Agency led the table discussion on “innovation,” and participants shared their top three concerns on adopting the latest innovation to reduce carbon emission in their organisation, namely financing, reducing risk in the process, and access to information. They all agreed that information and knowledge from a trusted source and real-life case studies are particularly important for their decision-making process. 

This year’s event saw a record number of attendees which clearly demonstrates the importance across of the region of this goal. The Mayor concluded the event by emphasising the positive action being taken in Greater Manchester which proved that net zero is in the best interests of everyone.