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Region’s climate change community fight back against PM’s green plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point net-zero plan for the U.K. has been met with criticism for its insufficient contribution to areas such as the North West.  

The long-awaited set of policy proposals and funding packages released this week, promote a ‘green recovery’ from Covid-19 by creating new jobs and aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050.  

However, some of the goals are likely to be hard to achieve or are lacking ambition amidst the growing economic and climate crisis.  

The PM has promised £1 billion in funding for energy efficiency in buildings and an extra year for the existing Green Homes Grant scheme which covers green energy installations costs.  

A coalition of green groups in Greater Manchester are now calling on the government to extend the Green Home Grants scheme by ten years to help tackle 1.2 million homes and create 60,000 local, skilled jobs in the North West by 2025. 

Jonathan Atkinson, Director of the Carbon Co-op which is running one of five government funded pilot Green Homes services in Manchester, said: “Twelve months is just not enough for the scheme.

“If there are signals there that say it’s a ten-year process, not only contractors, but also FE colleges can build up.

“With a ten-year timespan we can also build up local installers, local designers, local manufacturers to install heat pumps and de-carbonise gas supply.” 

“Mayor Andy Burnham has always been a really loud critic of the government’s policy and also promoting Greater Manchester’s potential.”  

Government projects such as the HS2 Railway line to provide more jobs and a greener way to travel, have been valuable steps to ‘level up’ the North but they have not gone far enough.  

Many believe the government is not on track for carbon zero and that Johnson’s plan is a gamble on big infrastructure projects at the expense of local businesses, jobs and communities.  

Zamzam Ibrahim, based in Manchester and part of the Green New Deal UK campaign group, said: “We would give this ten-point plan a five out of ten. 

“The funding falls far short of what’s needed – offering a sticking plaster solution to the unemployment crisis that’s already growing.”

“We can and must do so much more than this proposal.

“Look at what countries like France and Germany are pledging to do, and the huge potential we have in this country if the government matched the scale of the problem with a comparable solution.” 

Johnson has pledged to create 250,000 jobs to support economic recovery and develop technologies for nuclear, hydrogen and carbon energy.  

The PM’s plan also comes after Greater Manchester launched its five-year environment plan last year with a focus on infrastructure, more green space, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2038, twelve years earlier than Johnson’s target.  

Whilst there are hopes for opportunities to be created in Greater Manchester, there are serious doubts about whether Johnson will live up to his promises. 

The government has also set out to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, which has been pushed forward by ten years. 

Dom Goggins, member of the Manchester Climate Change Board and part of the parliamentary group on renewable and sustainable energy, said: “Big announcements on their own don’t cut it – we need the detail.

“There are at least thirty big climate and energy policy announcements due from the government and we need to see them if any of this is going to be delivered properly.

“Without them, the PM’s climate programme has a flagship but no fleet.”   

The UK will host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

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