15 Actions to become a zero carbon city
This is the list of actions we need every resident and organisation in Manchester to take to help meet our climate change targets. This is a zero carbon call to action!
1. Commit to zero carbon and taking urgent action now:
2. Climate change education
Learn more about how our everyday personal and business decisions are generating CO2 and affecting the world right now. An individual or an organisation can become Carbon Literate today:
The Carbon Literacy project will help get you started.
3. Measure your CO2
Where does your CO2 come from? The following websites will help you understand where the majority of your emissions are generated.
Organisation (Carbon Disclosure Project)
Changing your diet can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Research from the University of Oxford has suggested that cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from your food by up to 73%. Eating more plant based food and choosing fewer meat and dairy options is crucial for tackling climate change. Other aspects of our food choices and procurement are often overlooked when it comes to climate change - consider food that has been produced locally, opting for foods that are in season and reducing food waste are all vital.
Individuals can find out more about your sustainable food options at Feeding Greater Manchester.
For organisations looking for further advice have a look at FoodSync.
Our health is being damaged every day as a result of air pollution, with the most vulnerable in particular being put at risk. 1400 people die prematurely every year as a result of the air pollution in Greater Manchester. Our economy is also being affected; we lose over one billion pounds every year as a result of air pollution. If you want a healthier environment then visit Clean Air Greater Manchester.
Leave the car at home. Use more public transport. Cycle or walk as many journeys as possible. Advice for individuals:
Advice for businesses visit:
Fly less, or not at all. The aviation industry is the fastest growing source of CO₂ emissions globally.
Residents: use the train for domestic or close-by international trips, consider holiday options within the UK rather than flying abroad.
Organisations: unnecessary business flights needs to stop, instead use video and teleconferencing.
Offer your staff ‘‘Climate Perks’ to give them extra days to travel on holiday by sustainable transport instead of flying.To find out more visit: Climate Perks
7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle our stuff
Our clothes, phones, laptops, home and office furniture; everything we buy has a carbon footprint. By reducing the amount you consume not only minimises your environmental impact, it also saves you money. Repairing and reusing existing items is the next best option. And when you do need new items ask yourself, shop and your suppliers these questions: Is second hand an option? Are they made from sustainable materials like FSC wood or organic cotton? Are they good quality and less likely to need replacement? Can they be recycled at the end of their life?
To repair, or learn how to make sustainable clothes visit Stitched Up.
To repair and reuse old electronics visit Restart.
For what can be recycled in Manchester visit Recycle for Greater Manchester.
8. Renewable Energy
We need to stop using fossil fuels to become a zero carbon city. We need renewable energy to come from a combination of local generation (e.g. solar panels on our roofs) and a fully decarbonised National Grid.
To get advice on how to finance energy saving measures in your home vistit Home Energy Loan Plan.
Switching to a green supplier is easy to do online and most importantly it shouldn’t cost you any extra money (in fact, it could be cheaper!).
To switch over to green energy visit Big Green Switch.
9. Existing buildings
Existing buildings typically have a large carbon footprint due to the energy required to heat them. Retrofitting makes a building more energy efficient by improving the insulation, which has a positive impact on both the environment and the financial cost of running a building. There are organisations that are helping people and businesses make radical reductions in emissions.
For businesses looking for practical advice have a look at The Green Building Council - they are uniting the UK building industry using sustainability as a catalyst to positively transform the places people use everyday.
Within homes, reducing the amount of energy you use can massively reduce your carbon footprint.
Find out more at Business Green.
10. Green space and gardens
We need our green spaces, parks, gardens and river valleys to help adapt Manchester to the changing climate. As well as provide benefits for our residents’ physical and mental health, to support wildlife, and to support new jobs and businesses. We want the people of Manchester to reconnect to their gardens and local green areas, creating a space for both wildlife and people to move through.
You could get involved by looking at how to manage your garden in an environmentally efficient way, or by encouraging biodiversity to local green spaces.
My wild city project is helping do just that:
11. Water conservation
Fresh, clean water is a limited resource. The Environment Agency has warned that the UK is at risk of running out of our freshwater supply within the next 25 years. Using less water will result in lower quantities of fresh water being pumped and treated to meet our demands. This reduces our energy consumption in relation to water use which is crucial in reducing Manchester’s carbon footprint.
Choose quick showers over baths, turn the tap off whilst brushing your teeth, re-use water where possible – and get creative - such as using bath water to water plants.
To find out more Visit:
12. New developments and construction
Manchester, like all cities, is growing and is set to continue to grow. However, we can’t allow this growth to result in increased carbon emissions. We need to tackle the amount of CO2 that is emitted through the construction of new buildings (including the emissions embodied in the materials themselves) and the those emitted once the building is occupied. In some instances, 50% of the lifetime emissions of a building are emitted at the construction stage. All new developments will need to be net zero carbon from 2028, under proposed Greater Manchester planning standards. However, we need to see proactive Manchester developers moving quicker wherever possible, marking themselves out as market leaders.
Developers: sign up to the Green Building Council’s Net Zero commitment and get advice on how to act:
Influence new developments: could that new development in your neighbourhood be zero carbon? Ask the developer, contribute to local consultations and comment on planning applications at:
INSPIRING AND INFLUENCING OTHERS
13. Where you put your money
Choosing who you bank with can have an impact on your carbon footprint. Read up on which banks have good environmental credentials. This also applies to any savings you may have. Check where your pension is invested, some schemes are currently invested in fossil fuels, including the Greater Manchester Pension Fund
Get organisations to stop investing in fossil fuels:
Ethical savings and investments can be a great way of investing money whilst also benefiting the environment. Organisations such as Greater Manchester Community Renewables, install community-owned renewable energy supplies. To find out more visit:
14. Voice your opinion and influence politicians and decision-makers
Change will need to come from the top as well as the bottom.
Write to your local and national politician where you have a proposal that will help ensure Manchester meets its climate change targets. Describe what is currently preventing you from taking action to become zero carbon and how your proposal will help tackle it. Be creative, include examples of best practice from other cities, set out the wider benefits to the city of your new proposal, and describe what you will do to help implement the proposal if it’s adopted. ‘Dear politician, if you do X, I’ll do Y…’ can help create a powerful argument for our politicians to act.
15. Spread the word
For both businesses and individuals, it is important to access as many people as possible, to enable change to happen right across the city.
Residents: share your knowledge and experience with your friends, family, classmates and your community. And also be open to learning from others.
Organisations: reach out to your suppliers and customers and ask them to reduce their carbon footprints, including it in procurement documents and contracts wherever possible. You are a key player in making change happen!
 University of Oxford (2019), ‘New estimates of the environmental cost of food’, News and Events, [Online] available at http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-06-01-new-estimates-environmental-cost-food (accessed 17/07/2019)
Dajnak, D. Walton, H. Smith, J.D. and Beevers, S. (2017). Greater Manchester Health and Economic Impact Assessment Study. London: King’s College.
Manchester City Council. (2018). Manchester Public Health Annual Report, A breath of fresh air: tackling the issue of poor air quality in Manchester.
European Commission: Climate Action (2019) ‘Reducing emissions from aviation’ [Online] available at https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/aviation_en (accessed 17/07/2019)
Barrie J. (2019). The essential daily briefing: Environment News [Online] available at https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/england-run-out-of-water-25-years-scotland-is-the-answer/ (accessed 17/07/2019)
UK Green Building Council. (2019). Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition.