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The road to Net Zero will not be sexy - Katherine Barr, Client Development Manager, Elevate

The Net Zero, carbon neutrality road is the most important journey our city will take in the next 50 years or so, but it may not be as glamorous as many of us are hoping. Most countries, including the UK, have pledged to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050, while Greater Manchester has the more ambitious target of reaching that goal by 2038. It is a fantastic opportunity for Greater Manchester and it’s communities to show what we can do and prove how important it is to reduce our emissions as quickly as possible. We have already seen Manchester’s famous collaborative spirit come to life in the effort to reach Net Zero with exciting partnerships between business, academia and public services leading the way.

When we think of carbon neutrality, many of us immediately think of greening our city and making it a beautiful, clean, safe place to live. Of course, these things are extremely important for a city the size of Manchester as we continue to attract business, residents and culture, however the journey to that idealistic future may not be as fun and engaging as we’d hope. We must be willing to get stuck into the not so exciting stuff as well.

Reaching Net Zero is going to be hard work and it will require all of us to change our thinking and behaviour. Planting more trees, creating no car zones, closing streets and promoting the use of public transport are all fun and engaging ways to help out, however large-scale change will come from mass switching to greener energy companies, carbon capture & storage, further research into hydrogen fuel cells, monitoring carbon emissions at street level, battery storage, on site power generation and more! These things may not sound as sexy as we would like but it will take a combination of the ‘fun stuff’ and the ‘boring stuff’ to ensure that Greater Manchester reaches its 2038 Net Zero goal.

Areas such as the Northern Quarter have a unique opportunity to come together and affect real change. It’s a relatively small area geographically, however the number of businesses, bus routes, residency buildings and car parks means that there is a lot happening in a small space which in turn creates a huge impact on the environment. The city centre location means that there is always a buzz in the area and we can certainly use the footfall and popularity of the bars, shops and restaurants to appeal to both residents and visitors alike. We also need local people to get stuck in with both the glamorous and the ‘boring’ work, which is what organisations and partnerships like the Northern Quarter Action Group and In Our Nature are set up to do.

The road the Net Zero will never be considered sexy, but it is necessary and vital to the success of Greater Manchester.

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