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GM Green Summit 2023: A Rundown

October 2023 by Lucia Simmons

The Greater Manchester Green Summit, now in its sixth year, is a prestigious annual event bringing together thought leaders, policymakers, and advocates to discuss and drive progress on sustainability and climate change issues within the Greater Manchester region.

The Carbon Literacy Catalyst Awards

This year, Carbon Literacy took centre stage for the first time. The first-ever Carbon Literacy Catalyst Individual awards were presented on stage during the opening session.

When introducing the awards, our Director of Advocacy, Phil Korbel, asked “Who in the room is Carbon Literate?” Over half the audience (the biggest turnout for the summit to date) proudly stood. They’re part of a 72,000-strong global community of certified Carbon Literate citizens, but they also reflect the prevalence of Carbon Literacy and appetite for climate action within the region.

The Mayor’s Opening Remarks

In his opening remarks, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham acknowledged that, while significantly behind where it needs to be, Greater Manchester’s Five-Year Environment Plan provides the “building blocks” to achieving net zero carbon. Commitments for the next plan, launching next year, included extending the recently launched ‘Bee Network’; an integrated public transport network, and building 30,000 truly affordable net zero homes.

We just need a big injection of support from political leaders, he added, to “generate investment to reindustrialise in a good way”. “The drive to net zero and the drive to levelling up should become one and the same thing”. But, at the moment, “wrong turns are being taken.”

Sir Alok Sharma Speaks Out

Keynote speaker Sir Alok Sharma called on policymakers not to move the goalposts and to “listen to the voices of young people” when planning how to use money. Faster deployment of finance into climate action was one of the key climate solutions he argued for. Plan International UK’s Olivia Clarke, who presented the Carbon Literacy Catalyst Awards as part of her mayoral takeover, commented that “it’s refreshing to hear adults want to bridge the gap between young people and political leaders”.

Sector-wide plans for emissions reduction were another solution mentioned by Sir Alok Sharma. Speakers from Manchester’s inter-faith network ‘Our Faith Our Planet’ also argued that we’ll only achieve net zero carbon goals “if we’re interconnected across sectors”. Our ready-to-use Carbon Literacy Sector Toolkits are already supporting this work.

Carbon Literacy Featured in Workshops

Alongside the main plenary session, various workshops ran throughout the day. Manchester Met led a workshop on ‘Green Skills: Our Future Green Workforce’, where multiple panellists mentioned how Carbon Literacy enables students to attain the green skills needed for the workplace.

Auto Trader led a workshop on ‘Decarbonising Transport One Journey At A Time’ where they, and a panellist from fellow Carbon Literate Organisation Electricity North West, outlined how early engagement with colleagues is critical to realising the strategic opportunity decarbonisation presents. Both mentioned how they have used Carbon Literacy to embed this understanding into employee mindsets.

Ready for Action

All-in-all, it was an incredibly inspiring day. One key takeaway the speakers presented was that the only way forward is to “keep working together”. In that vein, we held fruitful conversations throughout the day with attendees, businesses and fellow advocates for climate action from across the region at our exhibitor stand, kindly donated by Auto Trader to spotlight our work. If you were one of them, do get in touch at info@carbonliteracy.com so we can keep the conversation going.

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