On the 18 March, the AGMA-level Environment commission met up to discuss various issues such as the progress of their programme and the Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) delivery plan.
Led by Keith Davidson, the LCEA for the Built Environment 5-year delivery plan is due to be completed by the end of May. It aims are- in basic terms- to capture the economic benefits of retrofitting; whilst actively becoming a green economy and creating green jobs.
Concerns were raised about securing (private) investment over the five years although it was reported that the programme was already attracting interest and there was a GM bid for EU funding from the ERDF. Issues were also raised by the value of retrofitting buildings when there were various free scheme linked to the Decent Homes standard. The response was that they were aiming for a ‘Decent Homes plus’ standard which would take retrofitting much further- especially with the European funding- and save six million tonnes of C02.
Even so the biggest stumbling block remains that the commissioners currently have no power and no funding, and the New Economy Commission seems to be taking the lead. If there is no agreement from AGMA for setup costs, and if they don’t get money, what happens next? The programme did not come with any money at all and it will be a challenge to convince the local authorities to give up some of their budget for the region-wide plans. Furthermore, whilst the plans were very much pitched as economic plans the need to bring ‘people along’ and change people’s attitudes were raised.
Looking more widely at the Environment Commissions programmes, one commissioner raised the need to be very clear about numbers, aims as it would be very hard to make any difficult decisions without this. It was raised that the programme was still just a strategy and needed to be a lot clearer, especially at this stage. The commissioner noted that at the moment, there is a greater risk of failing than success as plans were still very loose and if need they are serious about getting investment then they need to be clearer about the benefits to do so. It was suggested that they form various programme sessions to give them more focus and to give the EC updates every other meeting.
With regards to measures and data for the EC, it was noted that Manchester commercial center emissions per GDP were quite efficient whilst domestic emissions per capita were higher than would be expected. Whilst low C02 emissions in commercial sector does show the strength of Manchester as a low carbon economy, it was noted that this didn’t mean that they shouldn’t continue to reduce commercial emissions whilst highlighting areas of commercial excellence.
Freelance Journalist and MCFly co-editor