Parliament might be preoccupied with Brexit, but there’s an even bigger challenge that is facing us: climate change. So I’m very pleased that this week the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, published a five-year environment plan for Greater Manchester, which sets out plans to improve our air quality and meet World Health Organisation Guidelines by 2030.
I’m really pleased to see ambitious plans for tackling air pollution, which, as we all know is at dangerously high levels in our region. It’s great to see plans to increase use of public transport and active travel, as well as emphasis on more people using electric vehicles – this is something that schoolchildren were really keen to see when I asked them about changes they’d make at my air quality summit a couple of years ago! The plan also includes ways to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, as excessive use of energy to heat homes and commercial buildings is actually one of the biggest causes of C02 emissions in our region. You can read the five year plan in full here.
Here in Trafford I know that traffic congestion around schools is a big problem, not least because irresponsible parking threatens children’s safety and it increases pollution too. Trafford Council have a working group looking into how to make it easier for more families to walk to school, and how to clamp down on engine idling (leaving your engine running when stationary), which contributes to the extremely poor air quality outside our schools. I know a number of schools and campaigners have lots of ideas for more things that can be done, and I’m looking forward to working with them and councillors to make improvements wherever we can.
Following the launch of Andy’s plan this week, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary declared a national climate and environment emergency. (Trafford Council declared a climate emergency in 2018 and I signed an EDM on this which you can view here). It’s been revealed recently that the UK will miss almost all of its 2020 nature targets. That’s a disgrace. We’re facing environmental crisis now, but the government is burying its head in the sand just at the time when we need radical action to keep global temperatures from rising. I’ll do all I can to press the government to act improve our environment and air quality.