Monday 1 August 2011

Greater Manchester signs off 48% carbon target

Imagine that - kicking off a blog posting with a headline that references percentages, targets and an admin process for signing off a strategy; stay awake at the back there!

It's pretty fundamental this one; Britain's second city (Greater Manchester to you and I) has signed off a climate change strategy that sets a pretty ambitious target of 48% carbon reductions by 2020 against a baseline level of 1990.

It doesn't stop there. The strategy covers all the bases, including mitigation, adaptation, green jobs and the need for a cultural shift (low carbon hegemony anyone?). The other cheeky bit lurking under the tarpaulin is an emerging measure for the thrillingly entitled 'Scope 3' emissions. To anyone who doesn't doze off at night with a copy of 'advanced carbon footprinting' clutched to their bosom, these are the emissions that we usually try and ignore: the stuff we buy, the flights we take, the food we eat.

Here's the first glimpse of our 'consumption-based' carbon footprint

The strategy as presented to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority can be downloaded from here. It's still in a stripped down, word-processed, no-frills format, but is well worth having a gander at. The headlines, in essence, are:

 - A rapid transition to a low carbon economy
 - Collective carbon emissions reduced by 48%
 - Be prepared for and actively adapting to a rapidly changing climate
 - ‘Carbon literacy’ will have become embedded into the culture of organisations, lifestyles and behaviours

There's some progress already, with a number of low carbon buildings, a domestic retrofit programme, emerging heat network plans, a green deal project and the introduction of an electric car charging scheme already well underway, but it's only the start.

The other issue for me is that it is a solid step towards getting all ten Greater Manchester authorities onto the same track on climate change. I chair the steering group for Manchester's own plan - 'A Certain Future' - and I know that we could achieve so much more if we all worked together, better, to cut carbon and adapt for the changes that lie ahead.


  1. Well done, but I hope that does NOT include burning BIOMASS which is neither clean nor Green. Manchester City Council has buried its head in the sand by not objecting to the building of a DIRTY biomass plant in Davyhulme. So, Manchester citizens will wake up to dioxins and Particulate Matter to make them ill, whilst the masses of carbon dioxide will go floating by on the prevailing wind.

  2. Peter, I think you may have been given some duff information on biomass, particularly regarding dioxins. My experience of biomass, particularly at a small scale, is that it's a genuinely useful and clean renewable energy source. However, if you have referenced material showing a dioxin risk from biomass energy production, I'd be interested to see it.


    speaks for itself really, significantly higher number of infant deaths in area downwind of biomass incinerator

  4. Dear 'LV' - with all due respect, that's a bit wide of the mark. First of all that's not a biomass energy plant in the story you've posted up, but a municipal waste incinerator; secondly a story in a local newspaper, whilst valuable, doesn't constitute referenced evidence in my book.

  5. Interesting, it's about time we saw some 'embedded' figures, I look forward to seeing more.

    So, more carbon emissions from 'personal flights' than from 'domestic vehicle fuel'? Does that include all flights from Manchester or just those by GM residents..?

    Come to think of it, how on earth do they work out 'domestic vehicle fuel' usage for GM residents? Is it just through fuel bought within GM - or are they tracking our every move via DVLA/MOT mileage data or something?

    Sorry, just typing out loud, I'm guessing it will all be explained in the final report...

    Oh, are there any plans to allow comments on:

  6. Hi Simon - on flights, that's GM residents only. The interesting thing about the Total Carbon Footprint is that it's tightly focused on the per capita emissions of residents - i.e. the emissions they 'own'. It's not a measure of CO2 emissions per se within our geographical footprint. Critical distinction.

    As for comments on the M:ACF site - yes, when we've got budget! Sorry - awful excuse - but give the Age of Austerity there's not a lot of cash around for major website revamps! Hopefully soon though...

    While we're on though, if you know of good projects in Manchester that need to be part of our annual review, let us know!

  7. Wondering whether the 'greenest government ever' will follow Manchester's lead. This week might be a good opportunity - I've blogged about it here:

  8. Thanks for bigging up the Original Modern city Julian... we're doing what we can but need to do a shedload better! Good blog posting.

  9. Just following the biomass comments - Below is a link to the World Health Organisation will see on Slide 6 a list of all the pollutants released by burning biomass, including dioxins:

    WHO also cite a study by Smith et al. 1984 in this presentation which provides evidence that the majority of particulate matter from burning wood (biomass) is size PM1 and smaller. The study may be old but I doubt that the outcome of burning wood has changed significantly during this time (I may be wrong?). These particles WILL NOT BE MEASURED AT ALL at biomass power stations and THERE IS NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT to measure them. The bag filters capture larger particles (due to the hole size of the fabric they are made from) and so are pretty much useless. The particles released have been linked to various health consequences, as listed in

    Not as green and clean as they would like you to believe...