Manchester Aims to be UK's Greenest City - Green Summit 2018 Review

By Ed McCue on 28/03/18

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, announced his ambitions for making Greater Manchester one of the leading green cities in Europe. To realise these ambitions, he called for a landmark Green Summit, which was held on 21st March 2018. The event brought together environmental experts, interest groups, partner agencies, academics and local people together to accelerate Greater Manchester’s green ambitions.


The following sections outlines some of the announcements arising from the Summit, according to topic:


Overarching/ Key proposals

The Mayor, together with local leaders, wants to bring GM’s date for achieving carbon neutrality forward by at least a decade to 2040. Other cities, such as Paris, New York, Milan and Stockholm still have their sights set for carbon neutrality a decade later, to 2050. The new commitment would be one of Europe’s most ambitious carbon neutrality targets.


We need to take advantage of the strength of our universities. Cooperating with the 100,000 strong student body in the city, as well as accessing the academic expertise on offer, will be critical to support out endeavour.


It was outlined that GM must work with government to ensure it delivers on aspects that require national action, including decarbonising the national grid and transport infrastructure and seek to negotiate agreements for greater flexibilities and finance through further devolution.


Natural Environment

GM will further explore how we could create a GM Environment Fund to support our aims, and, if so, how it could be sustainably funded working with Government, agencies and the private sector.


GM will produce a Natural Capital Investment Plan by December 2018, which would identify those natural assets which could provide strategic benefit to local communities across Greater Manchester.



GM will explore the creation of a GM Energy Company that is able to invest in energy generation, storage and control technologies in buildings to generate revenue from ‘grid balancing’


GM will produce a Smart Energy Plan by September 2018, as part of an overall GM wide infrastructure strategy which will also cover digital, EV’s and green and blue infrastructure.


Electricity Northwest will lead a workstream to assess how more future energy demand can be met from smart, local renewable sources.



We should aim to consider the whole life cost of our domestic and commercial buildings, including their construction and running costs, rather than just focusing on their construction costs.


The UK Green Buildings Council will lead a workstream to assess how our current building stock can affordably be retrofit to cost efficient standards. A significant deep retrofitting campaign has the potential to create 55,000 jobs, if an appropriate finance mechanism can be found.


The GMSF will include a date by which all new homes built across GM will need to be net zero carbon. Further work will be needed to agree on this date and provide clarity and logistics.


Andy Burnham called on the public sector to consider not renewing leasing on buildings that they occupy which do not meet minimum energy performance standards. It has been estimated that 50 percent of the energy used in our buildings in GM could be saved simply through better management.



GM will establish a new public sector-led commercial model for the GM EV charging network this year that will be at least double the size of the present system.


GM wants to move to an emissions free bus fleet and we will look at whether new bus technologies can help us to achieve this faster. 


GM will transform cycling and walking in the City Region by investing up to £50m per year for three years from 19/20 through the Transforming Cities Fund


GM will strive to ensure that TfGM’s 2040 Strategy – and wider transport investment – is fully aligned with our carbon neutral ambition. The Green Summit preceded announcements of a ‘Congestion Deal’, launched by the Mayor. The new measures being announced include:


·         £80m investment in Metrolink trams, providing 4,800 extra spaces and increasing capacity on the busiest lines,

·         £160m investment in cycling and walking infrastructure,

·         The introduction of a possible ‘pre-peak’ tickets to ease congestion at busy periods,

·         An exploration of a High Occupancy Vehicle lane pilot, to give priority to cars with three or more passengers, to encourage more car sharing,



Building on how the Government can use fiscal measures to reduce plastic waste, it was announced that there will be a #PlasticFreeGM campaign, to see how GM can be at the forefront of taking action on eliminating single use plastics.


The campaign to eradicate single use plastics in GM by 2020 was fronted by ex-footballer Gary Neville and the Mayor. GM could be poised for a major crackdown on party balloons, plastic straws and single-use coffee cups and water bottles.


GM’s Tourism and Hospitality Sector also set a target to eradicate its single use plastics by 2020 as part of a wider scheme to make their industry more sustainable.



The Green Summit also launched several initiatives which support the overall Environmental agenda:


Tyndall Centre have published their report which quantifies the impact of the Paris Agreement for Greater Manchester.


The Wildlife Trust will launch ‘My Wild City’ in Manchester, a £225k campaign to support local action and natural environment awareness.


Oldham MBC launched their Community Energy Asset Bank, an online service to match up community energy groups with asset owners interested in having their roof space or land developed for renewable energy by a local community energy group. They will encourage other areas to get involved in this, and it could link to the potential GM Energy Company.


A wide range of local action on food by the public, private and voluntary sector will be coordinated via the launch of Good Food Greater Manchester, a strategic food Board for GM.


The new GM Natural Capital Group Website ‘Nature Greater Manchester’ will go live on the day of the summit. 


It is time for the home of the industrial revolution to pioneer a new zero-carbon, waste free future. The world’s first industrial city can be an economic trailblazer once again. The Green Summit could have provided the tipping point necessary for environmental change in our city, but may also help act as a catalyst for change and innovation in other cities.


You can follow the city’s ambitions on climate change and carbon neutrality by searching #GMGreenCity and #GreenSummit on Twitter, and by following @MayorofGM, @GMLowCarbonHub and @greatermcr.