Energy and Climate ChangeMemorandum submitted by Manchester City Council

Manchester City Council commissioned independent consultants, Small World Consulting, to undertake a consumption based approach to reporting emissions for the ten local authority areas within Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester City, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford City, Stockport, Tameside Trafford, Wigan). A “footprint” was produced for residents and industry within the region. This research was funded as part of the DECCs Low Carbon Frameworks Pilot.

This work was communicated with a number of stakeholders in the production of the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy, setting the sub-region a 48% direct carbon reduction emissions target. Stakeholders across the region have discussed how to start considering and implementing a consumption based approach into policy within Greater Manchester. This work has informed our approach and thinking in response to questions below.

How do assessments of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions differ when measured on a consumption rather than a production basis?

Carbon emissions as a result of aviation/shipping can be assigned to consumer/residents purchasing and activity. This prevents carbon emissions for infrastructure such as airports, being assigned to the local authority within which they reside. This is a fairer way of attributing airplane/airport emissions, which serve a much larger region that which they sit within. This approach would sit better with the decision to use DECC Full Data Set or Local Authority emissions statistics (previously National Indicator 186). It is Manchester City Council’s view that for direct emissions, the full data set should be used. Adding a consumption based approach to this, would give a much clearer indication of the UK’s impact on worldwide emissions.

Nationally assigned emissions are currently measured in carbon dioxide and not all greenhouse gases (GHGs). Movement to recording all GHGs is also an important and positive step.

Is it possible to develop a robust methodology for measuring emissions on a consumption rather than production basis and what are the challenges that need to be overcome to deliver this?

Greater Manchester believes that this is feasible to create on a national scale, having created a consumption based footprint for the whole of Greater Manchester (as detailed above), for both industry and residents of each of the 10 local authorities within Greater Manchester.

Clear communication is essential to convey that this is not an exact science like production based methodology and there are many assumptions that need to be made when a national set of accounts is derived.

What are the benefits and disadvantages associated with taking a consumption-based rather than production-based approach to greenhouse gas emissions accounting?

It can help focus policy intervention in a number of areas that aren’t necessarily linked directly to climate change. Considering the results produced for the Greater Manchester study, a large footprint comes from food and waste. With up to a third of food purchased by households being sent to landfill, policy intervention and education could help reduce waste and help the poorest in society.

The UK can lead the way in developing this kind of accounting and it may lead to stronger global consensus in trying to reduce carbon emissions as emissions are not simply just put on those countries (eg China) who produce the majority of the products that we consume.

Climate change doesn’t respect political/geographical boundaries; emissions produced elsewhere in the globe will have an impact here in the UK.

Worldwide approach to reducing emissions, greater potential for local (UK) sourcing therefore jobs and investment in local economy. Production and consumption need to be considered.

Is there any evidence of industry relocating from the UK to other countries as a result of UK climate change policy?

Rising labour costs are more likely to be implications in countries relocating rather than climate change specific policies, however simply reporting on production based emissions is likely to further encourage more industry to move abroad as the UK strives to solely meet targets set out in the UK Climate Change Act 2008.

Would it be (a) desirable and (b) practicable for the UK to adopt emissions reduction targets on a consumption rather than production basis?

Statistics to create a national carbon inventory are all already available, through channels including Office of National Statistics.

It would give individuals and organisations greater ownership of their carbon footprint. This would in turn allow them to be more resource efficient and thus reduce emissions.

For companies of all sizes this would create ability to identify carbon hotspots within their supply chain. This may open up further opportunities for the local UK economies, as organisations realise that local purchasing can be more cost effective as well as reducing carbon.

What are the potential implications at the international level of the UK adopting a consumption- rather than production-based approach to greenhouse gas emissions accounting?

Practically, if the UK took the lead in developing a national approach to consumption based emissions, this could give greater credence to negotiations with other countries in establishing emissions reductions as part of Kyoto protocols.

Are there any other issues relating to consumption-based emissions reporting that you think the Committee should be aware of?

Consumption based reporting enables individuals and organisations to identify “carbon hotspots” within their supply chains. As energy security becomes weaker and the cost of energy increases, opportunities for local, low carbon production may come to the fore. More local sourcing further enables the “just in time” principal to be further enacted with more efficiency and lower carbon.

Companies, particularly SMEs, due to financial constrains often do not take on tackling direct carbon impact with projects that have a longer payback than three years. With nationally produced and audited accounts, companies (as well as residents) would be able identify patterns to reduce their carbon with no monetary outlay.

October 2011

Prepared 16th April 2012