Towards a Carbon-neutral Manchester through Collaboration between Healthcare and Transport

19 Jul 2021

Towards a Carbon-neutral Manchester through Collaboration between Healthcare and Transport

Image: TfGM/GMCA

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester (UK), has challenged his city to become carbon-neutral by 2038. This is a bold target, considering it is 12 years ahead of the UK government’s own target of 2050. And bold targets require bold changes. One change, that the city is actively pursuing, is greater collaboration between different city departments and public authorities to improve efficiencies and seek common solutions towards decarbonisation. Through the SUMP-PLUS project, this collaboration is starting with transport and healthcare.

What does healthcare have in common with transport? Some links are generally acknowledged, for example how more cycling or reduced traffic congestion can improve public health. Other links, which have traditionally been ignored by municipalities, but could benefit from greater integration between departments, include for example, the planning of bus routes to healthcare providers or the location of healthcare services.

Within SUMP-PLUS, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has entered into discussions with the National Health Service (NHS) on a wide spectrum of topics. At the Mobility Forum (held in January this year) fleet managers joined together to address the specific challenge of transitioning NHS fleets to low emission vehicles. Stakeholders from both sectors also collaborated at the recent SUMP-PLUS City Integrator workshops (held in March and June 2021) to map the extent of existing relationships between health and transport, and identify opportunities for future collaboration to reduce carbon emissions across all NHS activities. Throughout, the vision of a carbon neutral Manchester in 2038, provided a unifying goal.

As a result of this healthcare-transport collaboration, the NHS is currently considering a variety of transport interventions ranging from the electrification of staff and freight transport vehicles and zero-emission ambulances, to providing more healthcare access at neighbourhood level to reduce the overall amount of travel. This is just the beginning; the City Integrator workshops will take place every 3-4 months in a phased approach to ensure continuity and so that the work can later be applied to other sectors, such as retail and education, and in future, to other cities.

As Mr Burnham highlighted at the launch of the Greater Manchester Environment Action Plan, this 2038 target is “the UK’s first science-based commitment for a city-region like ours […] We have a science-based deadline and a deliverable plan putting us on a path towards it. Cities and city-regions will make the difference on climate change and, in decarbonising by 2038, Greater Manchester can create a blueprint for every other city in the world”.

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