Manchester to become 'living green laboratory'

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Tue 21 Jul 2009 16:33, Last updated: 2009-07-21
The initiative will help Manchester adapt to climate change

A groundbreaking initiative aimed at turning Manchester into an ‘eco-city’ will be launched by the University of Manchester on Thursday.

The Eco Cities project will use leading scientific research and trial projects over the next two years in order to provide the city with an ‘adaptation blueprint’ to protect the city from the devastating effects of climate change.

At the launch of the Eco Cities project in Manchester Town Hall, the University will sign a commitment with Manchester City Council to explore ways for urban areas to respond to climate change.

Professor Simon Guy, who directs Eco Cities, said: "Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and as home to over half the world's population, our cities and towns must be prepared to adapt.

"Eco Cities is an international initiative that recognises the need for local adaptation responses to climate change impacts.

“Work in Manchester will provide a living laboratory to test adaptation methods and develop transferable research findings.”

The project will involve individuals and leading organisations from around the world advising on how modern cities are designed, built and managed in the current climate. The experts will cover ways in which cities can adapt to the changing climate using trees, parks and green spaces to increase shade and help combat flooding.

Experts warn that climate change is likely to intensify the 'urban heat island effect’ in our cities, which suffer from higher temperatures than the countryside, and contribute disproportionately to increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

"Even if emissions were stopped tomorrow there would be decades of climate change to contend with," said Professor Guy.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Council Leader Sir Richard Leese welcomed the plans as the city prepares a Climate Change Action Plan in time for the UN convention on climate change in December. He said: "Manchester is home to the kind of committed individuals and organisations that the city needs to make sure that we respond properly to the challenge and opportunity of climate change.

"That is why I am delighted to be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of Manchester, one of our leading institutions, for designing the most appropriate course of action on climate change.”

Eco Cities is funded through charitable donations from Bruntwood and The Oglesby Charitable Trust.

Michael Oglesby, Chairman of Bruntwood, said: “Although the battle to gain acceptance of global warming is now almost won, the task of gaining a clear understanding of what practically and realistically can be done to adapt to its impacts is to a large extent still the topic of much debate and uncertainty.

“Reducing our output of CO2 is a task requiring Government action but of equal importance is a clear understanding at city and individual level as to the vital role that they have to play in adapting our urban areas to a changing climate.

“Eco Cities aims to make a major contribution to the adaptation debate and to give clear and scientifically verified guidance to local government, companies and individuals.

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