Challenge 1: Our contribution to mitigating climate change
Climate change is the single biggest threat the world faces. In Greater Manchester, we generate significant CO2 emissions, which equate to about 3.6% of total UK annual CO2 emissions and contribute to global climate change. Although our CO2 emissions have declined over the last 30 years (at 39% reduction on 1990 levels by 2015), this has been largely due to action at the national level, through changes in the way the electricity we use is produced across the UK (namely the shift from coal to gas and offshore wind power). Achieving the significant and rapid reduction is needed for us to make a fair and equitable contribution to meeting UK and global targets to tackle climate change will require us to take more radical local action, alongside national-level action, to accelerate the level of reduction we have achieved to date.
Challenge 2: Our air quality
Local air pollution causes significant harm to our health and environment and, as a result, has an adverse impact on us and our economy. The most dangerous pollutants are NO2 and Particulate Matter (PM, small particles which are harmful even in low concentrations), with transport the major source of both these types of emissions. There is strong evidence associating air pollution with increased mortality and ill health, including exacerbation of asthma, effects on lung function and increases in respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions.
NO2 levels in Greater Manchester are in breach of legal limits. As the main source of NO2 is road vehicles, the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities (LAs) are working with the GMCA and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to produce a single Clean Air Plan, on which there has been close collaboration with Public Health England and Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit. Local modelling has identified 152 stretches of road where concentrations of NO2 are forecast to exceed the legal limit value beyond 2020.
Challenge 3: Our production and consumption of resources
The products and goods we consume and the waste produced after their use has a significant impact on our local environment and on CO2 emissions produced inside and outside of the city region. We need to increase action to reduce the energy and resource that goes into making goods and 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. We currently recycle 47% of the domestic waste produced each year.
Waste plastics create significant environmental problems in the city-region – particularly in our streets and green spaces. If plastic finds its way into our watercourses, it causes pollution in local rivers and seas and oceans beyond. Food waste is also a serious problem – we waste too much food at a significant cost to households, businesses, the public sector and our environment.
Challenge 4: Our natural environment
The quantity and quality of habitats and spaces provided by our air, land and water, and the
biodiversity they support, are key components of our natural environment. Greater Manchester’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. It has been estimated that these “Natural Capital” benefits can be valued at
£1bn per year. However, more action and investment is needed to protect, maintain and enhance our natural environment, so that we see a “net gain” rather than a “net loss” in the services it provides.
Challenge 5: Our resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change
We need to increase our city’s resilience and adapt to the impacts that unavoidable climate change will increasingly have on us. We will be at greater and greater risk from more frequent and intense extreme weather events (particularly periods of high-level rainfall, strong winds and storms) and heat stress over the coming decades. The most critical issue in Greater Manchester is flood risk. Like many cities, we are seeing this hazard intensify as both climate and urban areas have changed. The combined impact of climate change and patterns of development has meant surface water flooding is now more frequent. Managing the impacts of heat stress will also be important in the future, as the need for cooling of our buildings and shading in our public spaces will increase.
Five year plan for individuals
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!
Take a look at how you can help.
Five year plan for businesses
As a business in Greater Manchester your actions can make a big difference. By making a few small changes to become greener you will be helping to create a clean, carbon neutral, climate resilient city-region with a thriving natural environment and circular, zero-waste economy.
Take a look at how your business can help.