15 Actions to become a zero carbon city


This is the list of actions we need every resident and organisation in Manchester to take to help meet our climate change targets. This is a zero carbon call to action! 




1. Commit to zero carbon and taking urgent action now:

Set science based targets and commit to becoming zero carbon by 2038. To sign our Commitment to act and see which organisations in Manchester have already signed, take a look at Manchester Climate Change Agency - Commitment to Act 


2. Measure and report your CO2

Where does your CO2 come from? The following websites will help you understand where the majority of your emissions are generated.

Individual (WWF) 

Organisation (Carbon Disclosure Project)


3. Climate change education 

Learn more about how our everyday personal and business decisions are generating CO2 and affecting the world right now. An individual or an organisation can become Carbon Literate today:  

The Carbon Literacy project will help get you started. 

For organisations looking for help with staff training and education, take a look at the Carbon Trust's resources on employee awareness 




4. Food

Changing your diet can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Research from the University of Oxford has suggested that cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from your food by up to 73%[1]. Eating more plant based food and choosing fewer meat and dairy options is crucial for tackling climate change. Other aspects of our food choices and procurement are often overlooked when it comes to climate change - consider food that has been produced locally, opting for foods that are in season and reducing food waste are all vital. 

Individuals can find out more about making sustainable food choices here.

Organisations: Encourage more plant-based food options in office canteens, reduce food waste, buy locally produced food and purchase from businesses that support local food markets.


5. Transport 

Our health is being damaged every day as a result of air pollution, with the most vulnerable in particular being put at risk. 1400 people die prematurely every year as a result of the air pollution in Greater Manchester[2]. Our economy is also being affected; we lose over one billion pounds every year as a result of air pollution[3]. If you want a healthier environment then visit Clean Air Greater Manchester.

Leave the car at home. Use more public transport. Cycle or walk as many journeys as possible. Advice for individuals:

Transport for Greater Manchester -Travel Planner

Advice for businesses visit:

Transport for Greater Manachester

If you are an organisation intrested in getting a review of your fleet emissions visit Energy Saving Trust


6. Flying

The aviation industry is the fastest growing source of CO₂ emissions globally[4]. 

Residents: use the train for domestic or close-by international trips, consider holiday options within the UK rather than flying abroad.

Organisations: unnecessary business flights needs to stop, instead use video and teleconferencing.  Take a look at the Tyndall Travel Strategy to help make your travel decisions.

Offer your staff ‘Climate Perks’ to give them extra days to travel on holiday by sustainable transport instead of flying. To find out more visit: Climate Perks


7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle our stuff 

Our clothes, phones, laptops, home and office furniture; everything we buy has a carbon footprint. By reducing the amount you consume not only minimises your environmental impact, it also saves you money. Repairing and reusing existing items is the next best option. And when you do need new items ask yourself, shop and your suppliers these questions: Is second hand an option? Are they made from sustainable materials like FSC wood or organic cotton? Are they good quality and less likely to need replacement? Can they be recycled at the end of their life?

To repair, or learn how to make sustainable clothes visit Stitched Up.

To repair and reuse old electronics visit Restart

For what can be recycled in Manchester visit Recycle for Greater Manchester.

For organisations: reach out to your suppliers and customers and ask them to reduce their carbon footprints, including it in procurement documents and contracts wherever possible. To get support with using resouces more efficiently, take a look at WRAP


8. Renewable Energy

We need to stop using fossil fuels to become a zero carbon city. We need renewable energy to come from a combination of local generation (e.g. solar panels on our roofs) and a fully decarbonised National Grid. 

To get advice on how to finance energy saving measures in your home vistit Home Energy Loan Plan.

Switching to a green supplier is easy to do online and most importantly it shouldn’t cost you any extra money (in fact, it could be cheaper!).

To switch over to green energy visit  https://bigcleanswitch.org/gm/.


9. Existing buildings

Existing buildings typically have a large carbon footprint due to the energy required to heat them. Retrofitting makes a building more energy efficient by improving the insulation, which has a positive impact on both the environment and the financial cost of running a building. There are organisations that are helping people and businesses make radical reductions in emissions. 

For help on how you and your community can make radical reductions in home carbon emissions have a look at: Carbon Co-op and Red Co-op.

For businesses looking for practical advice on how to become energy efficient and cut down carbon for your business sector, take a look at the Carbon Trust’s guides.

Within homes, reducing the amount of energy you use can massively reduce your carbon footprint. Find out more at Business Green.


10. Green space and gardens 

We need our green spaces, gardens and parks to help adapt Manchester to climate change. Green spaces provide benefits for our residents’ physical and mental health, they support wildlife and provide new jobs and businesses, with many other positives. We want the people of Manchester to reconnect to their gardens and local green areas, creating a space for both wildlife and people to move through. 

You could get involved by looking at how to manage your garden in an environmentally efficient way, or by encouraging biodiversity to local green spaces.

My wild city project is helping do just that: 

My Wild City 


11. Water conservation 

Fresh, clean water is a limited resource. The Environment Agency has warned that the UK is at risk of running out of our freshwater supply within the next 25 years[5]. Using less water will result in lower quantities of fresh water being pumped and treated to meet our demands. This reduces our energy consumption in relation to water use which is crucial in reducing Manchester’s carbon footprint. 

Choose quick showers over baths, turn the tap off whilst brushing your teeth, re-use water where possible – and get creative - such as using bath water to water plants. 

To find out more Visit: 

United Utilities - Save Water


12. New developments and construction   

Manchester, like all cities, is growing and is set to continue to grow. However, we can’t allow this growth to result in increased carbon emissions. We need to tackle the amount of CO2 that is emitted through the construction of new buildings (including the emissions embodied in the materials themselves) and those emitted once the building is occupied. In some instances, 50% of the lifetime emissions of a building are emitted at the construction stage [6]. All new developments will need to be net zero carbon from 2028, under proposed Greater Manchester planning standards. However, we need to see proactive Manchester developers moving quicker wherever possible, marking themselves out as market leaders.

Developers: sign up to the Green Building Council’s Net Zero commitment and get advice on how to act: 


Take a look at our Net Zero Carbon New Build Standard developed A Task Group of private, public and third sector representatives & UKGBC  for guidance on  what net zero carbon means in construction and operation and possible ways to achieve it

Influence new developments: could that new development in your neighbourhood be zero carbon? Ask the developer, contribute to local consultations and comment on planning applications at: 

Manchester City Council - Planning and Regeneration




13. Where you put your money

Choosing who you bank with can have an impact on your carbon footprint. Read up on which banks have good environmental credentials. This also applies to any savings you may have. Check where your pension is invested, some schemes are currently invested in fossil fuels, including the Greater Manchester Pension Fund 

Get organisations to stop investing in fossil fuels:  

Fossil Free Greater Manchester

Ethical savings and investments can be a great way of investing money whilst also benefiting the environment. Organisations such as Greater Manchester Community Renewables, install community-owned renewable energy supplies. To find out more visit: 

Greater Manchester Community Renewables


14. Spread the word

For both businesses and individuals, it is important to access as many people as possible, to enable change to happen right across the city. 

Residents: share your knowledge and experience with your friends, family, classmates and your community. And also be open to learning from others. 

Organisations: reach out to your suppliers and customers and ask them to reduce their carbon footprints, including it in procurement documents and contracts wherever possible. You are a key player in making change happen! 




15. Ask politicians and decision-makers for help  

Change will need to come from the top as well as the bottom. 

Write to your local and national politician where you have a proposal that will help ensure Manchester meets its climate change targets. Describe what is currently preventing you from taking action to become zero carbon and how your proposal will help tackle it. Be creative, include examples of best practice from other cities, set out the wider benefits to the city of your new proposal, and describe what you will do to help implement the proposal if it’s adopted. ‘Dear politician, if you do X, I’ll do Y…’ can help create a powerful argument for our politicians to act. 

Write to Them


We have developed a draft guidance document based on these 15 actions that organisations can download and use to help develop their plans. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view and download.


We have also developed a document that every resident and organisation in Manchester can use to know what they need to do now to meet our zero carbon commitments to support the climate emergency.




[1] University of Oxford (2019), ‘New estimates of the environmental cost of food’, News and Events, [Online] available at http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-06-01-new-estimates-environmental-cost-food (accessed 17/07/2019)

[2]Dajnak, D. Walton, H. Smith, J.D. and Beevers, S. (2017). Greater Manchester Health and Economic Impact Assessment Study. London: King’s College.

[3]Manchester City Council. (2018). Manchester Public Health Annual Report, A breath of fresh air: tackling the issue of poor air quality in Manchester. 

[4]European Commission: Climate Action (2019) ‘Reducing emissions from aviation’ [Online] available at https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/aviation_en (accessed 17/07/2019) 

[5]Barrie J. (2019). The essential daily briefing: Environment News [Online] available at https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/england-run-out-of-water-25-years-scotland-is-the-answer/ (accessed 17/07/2019)

[6]UK Green Building Council. (2019). Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition.