Metro Mayors sign up to Net Zero industrial ambition

Burnham and Rotheram at Net Zero NW launch

Industry leaders, politicians and academic experts have unveiled a manifesto aimed at making the North West the world’s first net zero cluster. 

The manifesto, released today at the offices of Siemens in Manchester, by Net Zero North West, and fully endorsed in person by both Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the Liverpool City Region’s Steve Rotheram, is designed to create a green industrial strategy that can safeguard over 600,000 jobs, while highlighting the action needed to substantially decarbonise regional industry by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. 

The roadmap includes plans for greater energy efficiency, nuclear energy generation and improved rail infrastructure, enabling the region to lead the UK’s charge in tackling climate change.

Andy Burnham, said: “This is the right collaboration at the right time, and we are here to show the support from both our great city regions.”

He added: “As Mayors we commissioned Dale Vince and he quantified the opportunity for the North West to double the energy we need. In the 21st century the North West has an opportunity to be a net exporter of green energy.

“Both Steve and I had to leave this region for our early careers, but we don’t think young people should have to leave in order to work in the key industries of the future,” he said. 

Burnham added: “While there might be wobbles at a national level, we will face up to the future opportunity. There must be no let up in our ambition to be a net zero city region by 2038.”

However, Burnham said the biggest barrier to the plan succeeding was the skills available, and linked the Net Zero opportunity to his ambitious plans for a Manchester Baccalaureate, where local employers can work with young people to offer a pathway to T Levels in specialist subjects that can lead to jobs in the green economy.   

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “We’re being held back by a lack of an industrial strategy at a national level.”

He cited the support given by the Danish government for their renewables sector as a key part of its success, in contrast to the UK.

“Climate change presents a global challenge on a scale like nothing we’ve ever seen – and it will require a huge, collective response to tackle it. The Liverpool City Region was the first region in the country to officially recognise that by declaring a climate emergency, and, while we had already set ourselves the ambitious aim to be net zero carbon by 2040, we are now revising our target to 2035 – the most ambitious regional target in the country.

“From the work we’re doing to position ourselves as Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast, to bringing national infrastructure projects like Mersey Tidal Power to life, to the cleaner, greener public transport network we’re building, our area is firing on all cylinders to make sure we do our bit for the planet – and the region’s economy.

​“Overcoming climate change is not something that can be accomplished solely in our region, the UK, or even in Europe – but that won’t stop the North West doing everything we can to play the biggest part possible.”

The manifesto outlines a £30bn pipeline of live investable projects, with the opportunity for £207bn to be invested in the region overall, all aimed at decarbonising major industrial sectors in the region.

Research in the report claims to show that the North West is the nation’s leader of manufacturing new, low-carbon technology, and has the highest number of potential jobs in green tech manufacturing as a result of a “rich industrial history” and resources already in place, such as Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay and the Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port.

At the heart of the plan is a call for increased government support and assistance to drive key technologies like hydrogen and Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), develop enabling infrastructure, enhance regional communications, build appropriate skills and workforce, and provide overarching leadership to monitor progress and support project delivery.

Ged Barlow, Chief Executive at Net Zero North West, said: “Substantially decarbonising regional industry by 2030, and getting to net zero emissions by 2040, is an opportunity that presents significant economic benefits, both regionally and nationally. It will create and protect high value jobs and position the UK at the forefront of global industrial emissions reductions.

“Our plans underscore the importance of collaboration and collective action in addressing the challenges of climate change. By setting ambitious targets and working towards a common goal of sustainability, we can inspire other regions to follow suit and join the global movement towards a greener, more sustainable future.”