The fourth annual Greater Manchester Green Summit took place last Monday (18th October), held at The Lowry, Salford. MetMUnch were fortunate to get an invite to attend the summit, where our intern, Ben Pearson, attended on behalf of the team. The summit was designed to outline and tackle major environmental challenges that threaten the health and prosperity of our region. The summit was headlined by the current Mayor of GM, Andy Burnham, former Olympic gold medallist and current Commissioner for walking and cycling in GM, Chris Boardman and finally, the Chair of Environmental Agency, Emma Howard Boyd. So, what did we learn?
TO BE CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2038 BY FOCUSING ON 5 KEY AREAS
- Our Contribution to Climate Change– In GM, we generate significant CO2 emissions, which equate to about 3.6% of total UK annual CO2 emissions.
- Air Quality– NO2 levels in GM are in breach of legal limits. As the main source of NO2 is road vehicles, the 10 GM local authorities are working with Transport for Greater Manchester to produce a single Clean Air Plan.
- Production and Consumption of Resources– Increase action to reduce the energy and resource that goes into making goods/services. Many products are designed to be thrown away after use, rather than us seeing them as a resource to be re-used or recycled.
- Our Natural Environment– GM’s natural environment provides us with multiple benefits – improving air quality, reducing flood risk, conserving biodiversity and in taking up and storing CO2. Accessing and connecting with the natural environment also plays an important role in improving our physical and mental health and the environment contributes to our prosperity.
- Adapting to the impacts of Climate Change– Increase our resilience to extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and heat stress.
DECARBONISE AT PACE
Andy Burnham discussed in depth the need to decarbonise at pace. The Mayor hoped for radical change to commence over the next month at the global investment summit, government spending review and COP26. Decarbonising at pace can create social justice and look to eradicate inequality that exists regionally and nationally. It can create jobs, healthier lifestyles, a sustainable GM and reduce the cost of living.
The aim is for 50% of GM’s journeys to be via bike or walk by 2040. For those needing to travel by vehicle, public transport needs to be: EASY, AFFORDABLE, ATTRACTIVE and TIME EFFICIENT. When we deal with transport we are dealing with the health of individuals and our planet. At this current moment in GM, 2million journeys under 1km take place by car every year, which when you think about it, is pretty astonishing and disappointing.
SMALL CHANGES COUNT!
One of the summit sessions focussed on why changing our behaviours and making small changes count. MetMUnch heard from local projects that are improving GM’s greenspaces. The objectives of improving the health and well-being of local communities such as founding and supporting nature-based projects can contribute to seismic regional change. One of the projects present included:
West Gorton Community Park- £1.2m donation forming a new sustainable drainage park the size of three football pitches using an interconnected series of swales, rain gardens and bio-attenuation features. This is part of an innovative scheme to use nature-based solutions to combat the effects of climate change and reduce stormwater flooding in Manchester.
IF YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM
Every day we all make choices that affect our environment, from the way we travel, to what we buy and how we heat our homes. If we all changed just one habit to be ‘greener’ it would make a big difference to the environment, your health, and could even save you money too!