Manchester’s Airport carbon emissions dwarf all other sectors in our city – and we own it. It’s time we face up to this moral dilemma and plot a different path for flying on our patch

I’ve taken a look at an important new piece of work that is out from the Manchester Climate Change Agency (MCCA).

The Manchester Climate Change Framework 2020-2025 sets out the huge challenge facing our city – to halve carbon emissions in the next five years – and tells us:

‘Manchester is ‘not currently on track to deliver its climate change objectives despite many actions across the city’.

There is quite a lot to take from the report despite the fact much of it’s not new, useful as it is (read my Twitter summary thread here).

But for me the main takeaway is that it puts Manchester’s Airport emissions firmly in the ‘official spotlight’ for first time.

The report shows clearly how emissions from flying/Manchester Airport (on which there’s been very little officially-sanctioned debate thus far) dwarf those from direct emissions, which have been focus of most of the city’s climate planning to date.

Direct emissions in Manchester versus Airport/flying and indirect emissions

I think this highlights the huge moral dilemma we face in Manchester, where Greater Manchester residents are in effect, majority owners of what is the UK’s third largest airport.

Continue reading “Manchester’s Airport carbon emissions dwarf all other sectors in our city – and we own it. It’s time we face up to this moral dilemma and plot a different path for flying on our patch”


On 8 July 2019, Manchester City Council declared a Climate Emergency and as a result a new committee has been tasked with scrutinising  progress to the city’s carbon-zero 2038 target.  Here’s what I learnt from attending the first meeting.


1. The new Climate Emergency Scrutiny committee means business.

It seemed clear that this group of seven councillors, chaired by Annette Wright, (Hulme councilor and co-author of the Climate Emergency motion) – seem genuinely set on examining and overhauling everything the council does to bring it in line with the emergency declaration. ‘We want to understand where we are now, where we need to get to, what we need to do to get there, how we’re doing along the way,’ said Wright {paraphrased}.

2. The current Climate Action Plan is not fit for purpose

The meeting spent almost two hours forensically going through each of the 20 points in the existing Manchester Climate Action Plan, thus exposing its inadequacy.

Currently – it’s an eclectic mix of actions, some specific and with carbon reductions attached (‘LED street lights = 8,000+ tonnes of Co2 saved’), some huge and broad (‘meeting our 2050 carbon-zero target’) and some vague with no clear outputs attached (‘participate in the Core Cities Adaptation project’), some covered by multiple points and possible double counting (eg emissions from council buildings covered by four separate points).

Snapshot of the current Climate Action Report – which lists all 20 items on track

As Wright testily made the point again and again, the plan doesn’t contain a breakdown of segment targets, or how each of the 20 actions relate to the cuts we need to make – so there is no sense of where Manchester is on its journey to a carbon-zero future.

For instance – if transport accounts for 31% of Co2 in Manchester, what are the year by year reductions required, how will we make them, what progress are we making and who is accountable for reaching them?

It seemed surprising that after claiming to be a leader in this for so long (2009), this document is what underpins the city council’s climate action; let’s hope what comes next (to begin March 2020) is far better. 

3. There are no council employees working full-time exclusively on the climate emergency.


Three Climate Emergencies Declared – yay! And then ignored. Oh…

Credit: Dilbert/Scott Adams

You know that uncomfortable, jarring feeling you get.

When your body experiences one thing, but your eyes see another?

It’s known in the psychologist trade as cognitive dissonance – when beliefs are contradicted by information.

When it happens our brains get very uncomfortable and have three options – change our beliefs (hard), change our actions (quite hard), change our perception of our actions (easiest).

Well this has been the experience of being on the environmental campaigning beat in Manchester this week.

Extreme cognitive dissonance – as the city revealed we’re way off our carbon targets, rose up to declare a climate emergency – and it all went completely ignored.

It could have been so different – a momentous, landmark, ground-breaking week.

It started with Monday’s revelation at the Manchester Climate Agency’s annual ‘conference’ that the city had only managed 2.5% of our pledged 13% year on year carbon reductions .

Continue reading “Three Climate Emergencies Declared – yay! And then ignored. Oh…”