Manchester poised to launch five-year climate change plan

A strategy to retrofit up to 350 council buildings and implement other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the city is expected to be approved next week.

The Climate Change Action Plan 2020-25 sets out measures Manchester City Council will take to halve the carbon emissions from its buildings, energy use and transport from around 30,000 tonnes a year in 2019/20 to 15,000 tonnes a year in 2024/25.

Among the plans are to retrofit “as many as possible” of the 350 buildings in the council’s estate to improve energy efficiency – although the report does not specify which buildings these may be.

The first phase of retrofitting is intended to save 1,800 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, with the second phase cutting a further 3,000 tonnes.

The council also proposes a large-scale clean energy generation scheme involving the use of solar panels and wind turbines on council land and buildings, or sites in third party ownership. A detailed feasibility study for this is to be prepared later this year, it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the completion of the Civic Quarter Network underground heating system, connecting to the refurbishment of the Town Hall underway, as well as the Art Gallery and Central Library buildings, is expected to reduce carbon emissions by a further 1,600 tonnes per year, the city council said.

Other measures include a £10m upgrade of the refuse collection fleet, including replacing ageing diesel-run trucks with 27 energy-efficient electric vehicles, and installing low-energy LED street lighting.

The plan will be discussed at this week’s neighbourhoods and environment scrutiny committee, and has been recommended for approval by councillors at another meeting on Wednesday 11 March.

The plan is intended to sit alongside a citywide Climate Change Framework, which sets out how Manchester can become a ‘zero-carbon’ city by 2038. Manchester City Council’s definition of zero carbon is based on the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research definition, meaning at least a 95 per cent reduction from 2018/19 levels.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, executive member for environment, said: “The next five years are going to be absolutely crucial. To achieve the ambitious goal of Manchester becoming zero carbon by 2038 we are going to have to make rapid and radical progress.”

Simon Clouston, technical director of sustainability and energy at engineering firm WSP, told a meeting of the economy scrutiny committee in November that existing buildings account for between 50-75% of Greater Manchester’s total carbon footprint.

As well as retrofitting council buildings, he noted that up to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings in Greater Manchester need retrofitting every year for the city to reach its zero-carbon target.

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