Is Manchester a Sustainable City? 7 Ways the Northern city is Investing in a Sustainable Future

Is Manchester a Sustainable City? 7 Ways the Northern city is Investing in a Sustainable Future

Is Manchester a Sustainable City? 7 Ways the Northern city is Investing in a Sustainable Future
23rd June 2022

Manchester is one of, if not the leading city in the north of England. Not only a significant player in the UK’s industrial revolution and transportation development, Manchester was actually the first industrial city in the world. Leading the way in factory production and Cotton manufacturing in the Nineteenth century, Greater Manchester has often been at the forefront of business in the UK. Even after a volatile few years, Manchester's economy has stayed strong and shown resilience exhibiting the second largest growth in 2021 out of 30 key European cities.

Is Manchester a sustainable city?

Greater Manchester is predicted to see more growth over the next few years and investment is planned in the city. A key challenge set for the city is to transition to a more sustainable and zero-carbon economy by 2038. The foundations have already been set to achieve this goal and work is well underway but in what ways is Manchester investing in a sustainable future?

1. Manchester City Centre Transport Strategy

The UK Government has set the target for the whole of the UK to be zero carbon by 2050 but with the climate crisis Manchester has made the bold move aiming to achieve this by 2038. A key element to reach this target involves making transport in Manchester more sustainable.

Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council and Salford City Council worked together to create the City Centre Transport Strategy. This strategy aims to invest in public transport and reduce car-based trips, cutting congestion in the city. Predestination of more city centre locations is to be reviewed and ways in which the city can create a more attractive and pleasant walking environments.

The central aim is for 90 per cent of all trips to the city centre in the morning peak to be made on foot (including people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters or guide dogs), by cycle, or on public transport before 2040.”

A fleet of EBikes and Ecargo bikes are now available for rent in the city. They can travel up to 15mph and carry a weight of 250kg allowing users to transport cargo across Manchester. The bikes have a rechargeable battery and an electric assist motor to aid pedalling.

The city council have also been in discussion about creating a Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone similar to the ULEZ in London. This has been put on hold since the pandemic but a review is due to take place. Funding to improve vehicles has already began and several buses and HGV’s in the city have been replaced with more modern eco-friendly options.

Yellow Trams in Manchester City Centre
Improving sustainable transport in Manchester is a key element to the city reducing carbon emissions.

2. Influencing Behaviour and Leading by Example

Education is an integral factor in promoting sustainability. Incentives will only work if they have the support of the wider community and informing, educating and leading by example is a key way to achieve a more sustainable Manchester.

Greater Manchester City Council are leading by example in decarbonising emissions in the city. The councils direct carbon emissions have reduced by 54.7% between 2010 and 2020, and they aim to halve them again by 2025. They also plan to refit over 10,000 social homes to cut carbon emissions and energy costs. We’re not just decarbonising the Council because we have to meet Government guidelines: we want to continue to exceed targets and provide frameworks for others to follow and improve the lives of people living in our city and beyond.

A range of Events have been planned to educate and engage the population, including:

  • The Youth Climate Change Action Summit, held at Manchester Central Convention Complex. Schoolchildren were invited to participate in workshops- to help highlight the global climate emergency.
  • Manchester Climate Change Agency and its partners have secured £1.1m to help support community-led climate events and a climate resilience project. 
  • Manchester was one of the first cities to join the international City Business Climate Alliance initiative, a programme supporting business collaboration on climate action. 

3. Green and Getting Greener in Manchester

The city has heavily invested in green infrastructure over the last few years and this is set to continue. Manchester wants to become a better place for people and nature, by increasing and improving the blue and green spaces in the city. Already 12km of waterways have been enhanced and 12,500 trees have been planted. Parks and green spaces have been upgraded and any new housing developments must look at ways to incorporate green spaces into the plans. The Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy for Manchester aims for Manchester to be recognised for its high quality of life, with improved green spaces and access to world-class sports, leisure, and cultural facilities.

Tree growing
12,500 tress have been planted in Greater Manchester in the past few years and more are planned.

4. Recycle for Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester Council have been working to increase recycling rates over the past few years. Recycle for Greater Manchester work with the local councils to manage their waste and recycling responsibility. Plastic, cardboard and glass are can all be recycled and are collected through household doorstep collections biweekly, and there are several recycling centres across the city for larger items such as electrics and DIY waste. Recycle for Greater Manchester website is an informative resource packed with local recycling information advising what can be recycled and where. There’s also initiatives such as Plastic Free GM in place to reduce the use of single use plastics where possible. The scheme offers advice and support to Greater Manchester businesses and individuals have who signed up to support the initiative.

Cardboard Recycling
Cardboard can be collected from homes for recycling in the doorstep refuse collection biweekly.

5. Sustainable Development

Greater Manchester Council are keen to reduce carbon emissions in the city year on year. To achieve this they are looking at projects to fund smart heating systems, refitting commercial buildings, and more sustainable building developments. Councils are working to makes homes more economic with new windows, insulation, and low energy lighting, and more eco homes are being built in and around the city. Work is also underway to decarbonise over 150 public buildings, this not only helps to cut emissions but also creates new jobs in the area.

6. Renewable Energy

Unlocking clean energy in Greater Manchester’ UCEGM is a project created to deliver a number of renewable energy schemes across Manchester. The first phase of the scheme focuses on generating electricity locally. They have begun to utilize council owned sited to create solar energy and hydro electric. There are also plans to increase the use of smart technologies and develop more electric vehicle charging sites.

Solar Panels on Roof
UCEGM are helping to increase Solar and Hydropower in Manchester.

7. Assisting SME’s in Green Growth

Manchester is a city of innovation and a great place for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Business growth hub has launched the Green Growth resource to support small and medium sized enterprises in the city reduced their environmental impact and increase profitability. It is an independent and impartial resource offering tailored support to businesses delivered by expert advisors.


As Manchester grows and the economy thrives so does the need for more sustainable options and initiatives in the city.  Greater Manchester is focused on Investing in and embracing more sustainable businesses, organisations, lives and lifestyles. A recent study found that Manchester is home to some of the greenest people in the UK and the points listed above highlight where Manchester is making progress towards its ambitious plan to be a zero carbon city by 2038. It is positive to see the conversations are happening and progress is underway but is enough being done?  

If you are looking to be more sustainable in your business travel plans ‘5 reasons serviced apartments are leading the way in sustainable travel ‘ may be of interest to you. Also for serviced apartments in Manchester check out ‘our top Manchester Apartments in key locations’.



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