What climate targets have been set in Manchester?

13th June 2019

The city of Manchester has set a science-based carbon budget of 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the Greater Manchester city region has a carbon budget of 71 million tonnes.  Both also have a target to become “zero-carbon” by 2038.

Manchester’s carbon budget and emissions pathway

What is a carbon budget?

This is the total amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted over a specified period – in this case, it includes emissions from energy use for heat, power and ground transport for the period from 2018 to 2100 (shaded in pink on the chart above).

Who calculated the carbon budgets?

The Tyndall Centre calculated carbon budgets for Manchester (PDF) and Greater Manchester (PDF) based on our fair share of a global carbon budget to keep the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees C.

How is the carbon budget calculated?

The global carbon budget is based on the latest assessment report (AR5) from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  The Tyndall Centre then worked out how much of this budget belongs to the UK (around 0.6% of the total), and then how much of that belongs to us at local level.

How the global carbon budget is apportioned to the UK, then to Manchester

What about aviation and shipping?

Almost half of the UK budget has been set aside for aviation (about 37%) and shipping (about 8%).  This assumes that aviation emissions remain at current levels until 2030, and then fall to zero by 2075.  If these emissions do grow, it means the remaining carbon budget for heating, power and ground transport in the UK, and therefore in Manchester, will shrink.

What does ‘zero-carbon’ mean?

The Tyndall Centre has defined carbon neutrality for Greater Manchester. They say it “relates to the point beyond which GM’s annual carbon dioxide emissions fall below a threshold level of 0.6 Mt CO2 (i.e. over 97% lower than 1990 levels). The threshold year relates to the point at which less than 5% of the total carbon budget remains as residual emissions.”

What does the carbon budget mean in practice?

The carbon budgets are very challenging, though they are still achievable. However, to stay within the budget, the first few years are key – we need to halve emissions in the next five years, which means making reductions of at least 13% each year.

How can we do that?

To put it simply, by using less coal, oil & gas – for example, by generating more renewable energy, insulating homes and moving away from gas boilers, making fewer journeys in petrol & diesel cars and more by walking, cycling and public transport, and by flying less.

What about the stuff we buy?

The carbon budgets don’t include ‘embodied’ emissions from energy used in making and transporting the things we buy, the food we eat and the waste we produce, but that doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, along with flying less and going car-free, eating a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint.

How can I help?

As well as reducing your own carbon footprint, it’s also important to use your voice to persuade politicians and businesses to act – visit the Friends of the Earth website to find out more.

And there are lots of local climate campaigns to get involved with, including Fossil Free Greater Manchester‘s pension fund divestment campaign, Frack Free Greater Manchester, Fridays for Future Manchester, Youth Strike 4 Climate Manchester, Rising Up Manchester Families and Extinction Rebellion Manchester.