Greater Manchester Green Summit 2021: environmental groups give their reaction to the event

We asked green activitists to share their feedback after the recent event and reactions to the summit ranged from broadly positive to scathingly critical.

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The fourth Greater Manchester Green Summit was held this week - and environmental groups across the city-region have given the event a mixed reaction.

Held at The Lowry in Salford, more than 1,000 delegates heard Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham speak about the plan to remove one million tonnes of carbon emissions from the local economy and reach the city-region’s target to be net-zero carbon by 2038.

There were also events on the schedule discussing issues including transport, green skills and careers, waste, energy and the natural environment.

Manchester World asked three of the city-region’s green groups what they thought of the event on Monday (18 October).

Walk Ride GM

Active transport organisation Walk Ride GM said it was encouraged by the increased sense of urgency at the summit and the speeding up of timetables, saying it was vital that it was acknowledged more needs to be done and fast.

It was also encouraged by the amount of involvement grass-roots groups had in the summit.

Claire Stocks, a co-founder of Walk Ride GM who is also a partner of the Our Streets Chorlton project, said: “It was great to see a focus on speeding up action – with the announcement of measures to take 1m tonnes of Co2 from the atmosphere by within three years - and an acknowledgement we aren’t where we need to be but a commitment to do more.

Claire Stocks, co-founder of Walk Ride GMClaire Stocks, co-founder of Walk Ride GM
Claire Stocks, co-founder of Walk Ride GM

“It was also great to see the focus on enabling community action and hear some amazing examples – such as people-powered retrofit, the upcycling scheme in a Rochdale park, and the Woodland Trust’s scheme to regenerate the landscape at Smithills in Bolton - and to be invited to share more about Our Streets, and the work our partners, supporters & champions have been doing to enable people to drive less.

“The key now in GM is to find ways to join the top-down actions politicians and business leaders must take to create change at scale, together with energy & place-based priorities of communities and people on the ground, to align all the elements that are part of the jigsaw puzzle of change.

“Because we can’t do it without bringing all the resources we can muster to this immense challenge, all pulling in the same direction, and fast.”

Friends of the Earth Manchester

Friends of the Earth Manchester said it was pleased to see pledges being made at the Green Summit and communities getting involved.

But it says the national picture is far less encouraging and the city-region will not be able to do enough without help from Westminster.

Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator, said: “We welcome the renewed commitment by Greater Manchester to become carbon neutral by 2038 and events like the Green Summit help to highlight the positive actions that local residents, communities and businesses are already taking.

Manchester Friends of the Earth protesting about air pollution levelsManchester Friends of the Earth protesting about air pollution levels
Manchester Friends of the Earth protesting about air pollution levels

“Yet the Government’s Heat Strategy, published the day after the Green Summit, demonstrated the huge gulf between the Government’s words and the financial support provided for local communities to be able to make the changes needed.

“The Prime Minister has previously claimed that the UK would install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, yet the Heat Strategy only provides enough funding for 90,000 heat pump installations over three years.

“It’s a start, just not a very good one.

“For Greater Manchester to reduce our climate-wrecking emissions by 50% in the next five years and to meet our 2038 carbon neutral target we need the Government to show leadership and provide the resources that local communities need to reduce climate-wrecking emissions.”

Climate Emergency Manchester

Climate Emergency Manchester gave the Green Summit a resoundingly negative response, saying it did not do anywhere near enough to recognise the scale of the problems being faced.

It sharply criticised leading city-region politicians for their approach to green issues and said there needed to be acknowledgement that efforts to reduce carbon emissions in Greater Manchester are not on track.

Co-founder and core group member Marc Hudson said: “The brutal fact is that Greater Manchester missed its goal to reduce emissions by a whopping 8.3 million tonnes this year. Next year the gap will be even bigger.

“The carbon budget idea, launched only two years ago, is already on life-support.”

Marc Hudson from Climate Emergency ManchesterMarc Hudson from Climate Emergency Manchester
Marc Hudson from Climate Emergency Manchester

He criticised leaders speaking at the event for not giving ‘stark’ numbers more openly, adding: “Real leaders have a responsibility to tell the truth about the depth of the very serious trouble we are in, and to have a credible plan to get us out of it.

“Bad spin and inept brightsiding are what we have come to expect from central government.

“This is Manchester, we’re supposed to do things differently here.”