A failure to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% this year belies specific and effective carbon reduction projects taken by Manchester City Council but much more can be done.
Steady State Manchester is wholeheartedly in support of Manchester City Council in its ambitions to create a low carbon city and its commitment to reduce the councils direct emissions by 41%, relative to 2010 levels, by 2020.
It is unfortunate that despite numerous effective projects the council missed its target of a 10% reduction this year with emissions increasing by 1.6%, if the emissions associated with ‘Traffic Signalling’, which moved out of MCC’s direct responsibility this year, are taken into account.
The recording of the contractual change of responsibility for ‘Traffic Signalling’ as a reduction in CO2 emissions achieved by the Council is logically incorrect and its inclusion undermines the otherwise excellent example of sustainability policy which the councils sets through its annual carbon reduction plan. We hope that this issue will be corrected through the scrutiny process.
The report acknowledges that all 7% of the reductions reported are down to this transfer of responsibility, if it is discounted emissions increased by 1’177 tonnes of CO2, largely due to increases in building energy use over a particularly cold winter. However, actions delivered through the Building and Energy Programme this year created savings of 3’207 tonnes, without these MCC’s emissions would have increased by around 5%.
What these figures tell us is that projects on buildings and energy use, which make up the large majority of the Councils footprint, represent the biggest potential for deep emissions reductions. The actions already taken under the Building and Energy Programme, mentioned above, are therefore the most significant achievement of this Action Plan over the last year and should be lauded.
Projects in development of particular merit are The Civic Quarter Heat Network, Voltage Optimization and a programme of LED street lighting which are all highly promising in delivering large emissions reductions. But if the real gains and achievements of this Carbon Reduction plan are to be visible, and lessons learnt, the figures need to be accurate and tell the whole story.
Through committing to reduce its direct emissions the Council is setting a leading example but it can also play a crucial role, like many other Local Authorities are doing, in enhancing the wider well-being, sustainability and ecological prosperity of the region.
The Total Carbon Footprint associated with the councils supply chains should be considered in this regard and procurement should be local economic activism, supporting and growing sustainable business models and encouraging equitable pay. These are not luxuries which can no longer be afforded, but the safest investments to secure a prosperous future for Manchester and future generations.
Most of all, the vision of a Manchester which takes environmental responsibilities seriously, whilst securing well-being for all, needs to be central to the regions economic strategy, not a subsidiary consideration to maximizing economic growth; we have to think about the ways we grow.
- #Manchester C02 “7% reduction” illusory; down to traffic lights moving to TfGM’s books #beyondthecarbonbudget. (manchesterclimatemonthly.net)