Ensuring Green Cities: How Manchester is Evolving
Manchester, a city renowned for its rich industrial history, is now leading the charge in a very different revolution: the quest for a sustainable future. The city has set itself an ambitious target of becoming zero carbon by 2038, a goal that resonates with the urgent global need for environmental action. At the heart of this transformation is a commitment to innovative strategies and collaborative efforts that redefine urban living.
In 2020, Manchester City Council unveiled its Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25, outlining 48 actions across five thematic workstreams. This plan isn’t just a blueprint; it’s a call to action. From retrofitting buildings to enhancing sustainable transportation, the city is taking bold steps to slash its CO2 emissions. One standout achievement is the retrofitting of 18 council buildings, backed by over £25 million in funding, which is set to save an estimated 3,100 tonnes of CO2 annually. This is a testament to Manchester’s unwavering commitment to leading by example in the fight against climate change.
The Role of Education and Innovation
Manchester’s journey towards sustainability is not just about transforming its physical landscape; it’s also about cultivating a green economy and nurturing the skills required for this new era. Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is at the forefront of this educational revolution. The University’s leadership in sustainability is evident in its commitment to embedding climate change education in all courses by 2026, as outlined in its Leadership in Sustainability Strategy 2022 – 2026.
The upcoming 2023 GM Green Summit, sponsored by MMU, serves as a beacon for this educational shift. Professor Liz Price, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Sustainability at MMU, underscores the significance of this event,
“The Green Summit is a crucial event. It gives people an outlet to talk about sustainability, share best practices, and agree on how the city region can meet its ambitious targets.”
The summit not only provides a platform for discussing sustainable practices but also reinforces the city’s resolve to prepare its workforce for a future where every job has a shade of green.
The Integration of Green Spaces and Urban Planning
Urban green spaces are more than just aesthetic enhancements; they are vital components of a city’s health and well-being. Manchester’s approach to integrating green spaces into its urban landscape is not only innovative but also essential in tackling the challenges of urbanisation and climate change. This integration extends beyond mere landscaping to encompass a comprehensive vision of urban ecology.
Among these initiatives, a unique aspect of Manchester’s green strategy is its intelligent approach to tree management. Recognising the importance of trees in urban settings, the city has embraced solutions like professional tree removal services in Manchester to maintain the delicate balance between development and nature conservation. Services like those offered by Scott Davies Tree Surgery are critical in ensuring that the city’s greenery thrives in harmony with its urban development. This careful management of urban forests contributes significantly to Manchester’s overall sustainability goals, blending the need for urban expansion with the imperative to preserve and enhance natural habitats.
Community Empowerment Through Green Spaces Fund
In the pursuit of a greener Manchester, the heart and soul of the transformation lie within its communities. The Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund is a shining example of how community-led initiatives can make a substantial impact. With over £1.5 million allocated to various projects, the fund is breathing new life into local green spaces.
The fund has supported an array of diverse projects, from the Yuvanis Community Garden in Oldham to the Firs Wood project in Trafford. These initiatives are not just about beautification; they are about creating spaces that promote social cohesion, wellbeing, and environmental awareness. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, passionately advocates for these community efforts, stating:
“Greater Manchester remains committed to reaching our target of carbon neutrality by 2038, but to achieve this our efforts locally need to be matched by the right national government policies and investment.
“Our emissions are reducing, but not at the speed or scale required to stay within the carbon budget we set in 2019. We still believe carbon neutrality is achievable by 2038 but it will require the right funding and policies at the local and national levels, and much of what is needed is not within our influence.
“The Bee Network is a pivotal moment for Greater Manchester – not just for transport, but for our environment and clean air. With further backing support we can deliver a fully decarbonised transport system.”
Advancing Sustainable Transportation
A key element in Manchester’s environmental strategy is reshaping its transportation landscape. The city is proactively reducing its carbon footprint by transitioning to electric vehicles and promoting sustainable travel options. This transition is not just about adopting new technologies but also about changing mindsets and travel habits.
Manchester’s achievements in this area are impressive. The city has replaced half of its waste collection fleet with electric vehicles, a move that is forecasted to save around 900 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said:
“We are proud, together with Biffa, that our waste collection service is at the forefront of the forward-thinking response to the climate change challenge and we hope it will inspire others to follow suit.
“The only difference to the new service that residents should notice is that the new vehicles are quieter and cleaner.”
This commitment extends beyond the council’s fleet; the city is also investing in cycling infrastructure and encouraging residents to embrace more active modes of transportation. These efforts are critical in creating a cleaner, healthier urban environment and exemplifying how cities can lead in the global challenge of reducing transport-related emissions.
Reducing Consumption-Based Emissions
Manchester’s approach to sustainability encompasses not just direct emissions but also consumption-based emissions. The city recognises that true environmental stewardship involves addressing the entire lifecycle of products and services. This holistic approach is evident in the council’s efforts to phase out single-use plastics and other non-recyclable products in its premises and those operated by businesses on council-owned land.
The council is also influencing suppliers through innovative procurement practices. By introducing a 10% environmental weighting in tender evaluations, Manchester is leveraging its purchasing power to encourage more sustainable practices in the supply chain. This forward-thinking approach underlines the city’s dedication to not only reducing its direct environmental impact but also influencing wider societal change towards sustainable consumption.
Climate Adaptation and Resilience
The city is embracing nature-based solutions to enhance its resilience against climate impacts. Initiatives like the establishment of an intelligence-led approach to tree and hedge planting, informed by a dedicated tree opportunity mapping assessment, are crucial. This strategy ensures that Manchester’s green infrastructure is not only aesthetically pleasing but also serves a greater purpose in building a resilient urban ecosystem.
Manchester’s efforts in climate adaptation are multifaceted, ranging from creating ‘sponge’ parks for natural water absorption to developing strategies for carbon storage and sequestration. These actions demonstrate the city’s holistic approach to environmental challenges, ensuring that its infrastructure and communities are prepared to face the uncertainties of a changing climate.
A Vision for the Future
As Manchester continues on its ambitious path towards sustainability, it stands as a beacon of hope and a model for other cities worldwide. The city’s comprehensive strategy, encompassing everything from green economy initiatives to community empowerment and sustainable transportation, paints a picture of a future where urban living and environmental stewardship coexist harmoniously.
Manchester’s journey is a testament to the power of collective action and visionary leadership in facing the global environmental crisis. It’s a story of a city that is not only transforming its own landscape but also inspiring others to take bold steps towards a sustainable future. As Professor Liz Price aptly puts it:
“Our hope is that delegates will leave the Green Summit feeling able to deliver on those solutions, empowered to be the change agents our region needs, and supported to take action.”
In conclusion, Manchester’s evolution into a green city is a shining example of how urban centres can lead the way in creating sustainable, livable environments. It is a journey of innovation, collaboration, and commitment, demonstrating that with the right approach, cities can be at the forefront of the fight against climate change, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future for all.