The 6th GM Green Summit at the Lowry Theatre on 2nd of October concluded with a strong note by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who reiterated his commitment to the city-region’s own net zero target – becoming the first in the UK to achieve carbon neutral by 2038.
The Mayor acknowledged it is an ambitious target to achieve and more work needs to be done on multiple fronts. He announced his plans to build 30,000 truly affordable net zero homes for rent by 2038. In addition, he also promised to improve technical education as an alternative to university, with the aim to bridge the skill gap for the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green economy.
Last month, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, announced the scrapping of several key green targets – including the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, which has been widely considered by the public as a major backtracking in environmental protection. Burnham branded the government's U-turn on climate policy as “dangerous, defeatist, and divisive.”
“To make what should be the long-term direction of the country that gets everyone behind it – to throw it out as a culture war – is so depressing. It’s such a wrong turn at this particular moment in time,” said Andy Burnham. “We don’t want culture wars in Greater Manchester. … We stick to the course. A green future is a better future.”
Representatives from major industries at the Summit and event attendees also expressed concern- on the recent environmental policy developments. The event also focused on the impact of climate change on the next generation with children on stage to express in their words, urging adults to be responsible for their actions, which set the tone for the whole event.
During the Q&A, Amy House, Director of the Green Economy, asked how much innovation and behaviour change can close the gap in Greater Manchester becoming carbon neutral in 2038. Stressing the importance of having a major innovation in skills and technical education to prepare our workforce for the upcoming green economy, Andy referenced his ambition for the Greater Manchester Baccalaureate, the country’s first integrated technical education system. He promised to focus on bringing the transformation needed in education during his second term as the Greater Manchester Mayor, by providing young people in the city-region a clear alternative to the university route, a post-16 education that prepares them with the skills needed to drive the green economy.
One of the panellists of the Q&A session, Iain Bevan, Commercial Manager of Dakin, acknowledged the need for a huge behavioural change to tackle the challenges of carbon emissions. He stressed that the current way of thinking in power generation and consumption is based on using high-carbon emission fossil fuel, which is hugely different from using low-carbon, sustainable energy sources. To trigger the necessary behavioural change, Iain highlighted that consumer awareness of the need for a greener way of thinking and innovation from corporations to help consumers manage their energy costs are both essential.
Besides the activities on stage, multiple workshops held in the event provided platforms for attendees to discuss in-depth issues on the journey to net zero. For example, in the Bee Net Zero workshop, representatives from different organisations and sectors joined together to discuss how to accelerate and profit from the transition to Net Zero. Kevin Aisbitt of the Energy Innovation Agency led the table discussion on “innovation,” and participants shared their top three concerns on adopting the latest innovation to reduce carbon emissions in their organisation, namely financing, reducing risk in the process, and access to information. They all agreed that information and knowledge from a trusted source and real-life case studies are particularly important for their decision-making process.
This year’s event achieved a record number of attendees. The Mayor concluded the event by emphasising positive action being taken in Greater Manchester, which proved that net zero is in the best interests of everyone.
At GC Business Growth Hub, we provide Sustainability and Net Zero support tailored to the needs of businesses in Greater Manchester and designed to make significant efficiency savings that deliver an ongoing financial benefit to their business. To find out more, please visit: