While Westminster continues to battle with the strains of Brexit, the mayor of Greater Manchester is calling for more devolution as the region vows to become one of the globe’s healthiest, cleanest and greenest city-regions.
Burnham, who is spearheading efforts to set the bar when it comes to tackling climate change, has a central bold ambition to be carbon-neutral by 2038 - 12 years ahead of the government’s own target.
In order to do this, a number of key proposals have been put forward like establishing the largest Clean Air Zone outside of London, phasing out fossil fuels in 20 years time and a plan to drive down avoidable single-use plastics.
The mayor was speaking at Greater Manchester’s second Green Summit and used his speech to call on the government to invest in the region’s five-year Environment Plan which sets out how the area will attempt to achieve long-term environmental goals.
Burnham has also been keen to stress the economic opportunities available for everyone if they acted now. Investment in building retrofit and renewable energy required to meet Greater Manchester’s ambitions could create 55,000 local jobs, according to city leaders.
The mayor of Greater Manchester believes the region can “create a blueprint for every other city in the world” and wants residents to embrace the challenge and make efforts themselves to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We have a science-based deadline and a deliverable plan putting us on a path towards it,” he added. “Achieving our ambition will be very challenging, but it is the right thing to do. We believe this sets us apart from other UK city-regions and puts us at the top table globally. The big challenge is how we use the need to take fossil fuel out of our lives and economy to transform Greater Manchester so it works for everyone.”
Potential measures towards decarbonisation include:
- Residents, businesses and community groups signing up to the GM Clean Switch. The exclusive offer guarantees that 100% of the electricity sold is matched by energy from local renewables – sun, wind, water and biofuels.
- Become a ‘Citizen Forester’: the City for Trees initiative aims to plant three million trees in the city-region inside a generation – that’s a tree for every person in GM.
- Help clean up air by leaving the car at home for short journeys: 30% of journeys in Greater Manchester less than 1km are by car. That’s a leisurely 15 minute walk or less than five minutes on a bike.
- Flexible, smarter solutions: GM residents will increasingly take their energy at different times as there’s a transition to electric vehicles, greener forms of travel and zero carbon homes using renewable energy like solar and heat pumps.