Greater Manchester’s economic recovery from Covid-19 depends on how it responds to the need to cut its impact on the environment, a forum of leading politicians, businesses and other stakeholders has heard.
Cllr Elise Wilson, economy portfolio lead for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, told leaders from businesses including Siemens and Manchester Airport Group, as well as representatives from the energy regulator Ofgem and senior politicians from across the city region, that : “Decarbonisation is crucial, not only for our environment, but for our economic recovery as well.”
Speaking at a virtual forum entitled Powering Up Greater Manchester hosted by Electricity North West, Cllr Wilson said: “There will be challenges, but there are opportunities for citiy regions like ours as we look to achieve net zero carbon by 2038 – 12 years ahead of the government’s 2050 target.
“It’s how we come together to do it – businesses, local government, the city and the city region – that is key. The challenge will be around money and resources, not a lack of ambition.”
The online forum was the last in a series of events organised by Electricity North West, with three prior events focused on the net zero priorities for the North West as a whole, for Cumbria and for Lancashire.
The events were arranged as part of the largest public consultation programme Electricity North West has ever run, Plugging In, which aims to inform its planning for much of the next decade.
The company, which is responsible for running the electricity network from Macclesfield to Carlisle, has already consulted more than 15,000 people and businesses across the North West as it decides how best to tackle challenges such as balancing the need to invest in upgrading the network with potential higher costs for customers.
Paul Bircham, communications director of Electricity North West, said: “The UK is at a critical moment in its journey towards net zero, and it’s right to identify the huge opportunities, as well as the significant challenges, that our transition to a net zero carbon economy will bring.
“I’ve been encouraged by recent announcements from the government and our research gives a clear pathway to how we can get to net zero by 2038 but it won’t be easy.
“There is some uncertainty, for example to what extent hydrogen or electricity will replace gas for heating, but that should not hold us back from taking forward all the ideas we can see. To hit these ambitious targets, we need to take all the levers we can and push them all to the max. It will be challenging, but it is achievable.”
To find out how people living and working in Greater Manchester, together with businesses or organisations operating in the county can have their say, visit www.pluggingin.co.uk.