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Our Green Summit letter to the ten council leaders

20th March 2018

In the run-up to the Mayor’s Green Summit on 21st March 2018, we sent the following letter by email to the ten Greater Manchester council leaders.  We will publish their responses when we receive them.

Dear Council Leader,

In May 2017, the people of Greater Manchester elected Andy Burnham as GM Mayor. In his manifesto, he committed to a new, accelerated ambition for Greater Manchester on the green economy and carbon neutrality, building on the leadership of the six local authorities that signed a 100% clean energy pledge in 2015.

Ahead of the Green Summit on 21st March, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority commissioned the world leading Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester to provide an evidence-based answer to the question of what that “new goal” for carbon neutrality should be.

The Tyndall Centre’s report has not yet been made public but we understand the findings are that for Greater Manchester to make its ‘fair’ contribution towards the 2 degree C commitment enshrined in the Paris Agreement, our remaining carbon budget for energy and ground transport is 71 million tonnes.  And in order to stay within that budget, we need to:

* deliver 14% carbon savings per annum;
* halve our emissions in the next 5 years;
* achieve carbon neutrality by 2038.

While this may be challenging, it’s not unprecedented – many countries, cities and corporations around the world have already pledged to be ‘zero-carbon’ or ‘carbon-neutral’ far ahead of 2050. (1)  And there are major benefits from being early developers and adopters of the ‘green economy’ solutions, not only for tackling climate emissions but also a host of other pressing social justice and environmental challenges such as air quality, fuel poverty and ill health.

For example, as well as dealing with one of the key sources of carbon emissions, a GM-wide programme of housing retrofit could help provide up to 55,000 skilled jobs, reduce ill-health and preventable deaths from cold and damp housing, reduce fuel bills, and ensure that more of the £3 billion that currently leaves Greater Manchester area via fuel payments to the Big 6 energy companies can be retained and spent within the region.

This is the ultimate opportunity to ‘invest to save’ – to prevent catastrophic damage and unlock huge benefits for the city region.  And the longer we delay and prevaricate, the harder it will become to avoid disastrous climate change in future years – a difficult challenge tackled today will be ten times tougher in a generation, if we do nothing.

In the face of clear evidence of what needs to be done, failure to adopt the Tyndall Centre’s recommendations will leave Greater Manchester’s reputation as a global climate leader in tatters, and put our economy and the future prosperity and well-being of your constituents at serious risk.

As the Greater Manchester Combined Authority leaders, we urge you to publicly support an ambitious carbon budget – in line with the scientific evidence – and a target to make Greater Manchester ‘carbon neutral’ by 2038.

We look forward to hearing from you by Wednesday 14th March, and would be keen to meet you if you wish to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Ali Abbas, Mirjam Rennit and Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinators

Dr Graeme Sherriff, Manchester Friends of the Earth transport lead campaigner

Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth member on Green Summit Steering Group.

 

(1) https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/countries-cities-and-corporations-committing-to-zero-carbon-by-or-carbon-neutral-by/