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"Make Manchester the easiest city in the UK to be a zero-carbon business", accountancy and business leaders told as UN calls for urgent action

Author: ICAEW

Published: 16 Jun 2023

24 March 2023: Accountancy and business leaders from Greater Manchester were yesterday urged to help Manchester reprise its leadership role in the first industrial revolution and make the city the easiest place in the UK for businesses to achieve net zero.

Ben Peace, net zero principal at workplace skills training, business support and consulting organisation the Growth Company, told delegates at an event held by accountancy body ICAEW Manchester at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, “in the government’s recent Net Zero review, decarbonisation was called the ‘industrial revolution of our time’ and we were told ‘we are in a race for capital, skills, and the industries of the future.’

“This was written from UK perspective but it applies equally to Greater Manchester, the cradle of the world’s first industrial revolution. As we enter a new chapter in our city region’s history, thanks to the devolution deal announced last week, let’s work collaboratively to make it one that is greener, more prosperous, more equitable and more resilient.

“At both the Greater Manchester and UK levels we’re committed to ambitious targets. Collaboration will be key to meeting these. We have some strong leadership and stated goals but these need to be echoed across different parts of industry and society, and across every discipline.

“The accountancy profession will have a vital role to play ensuring these goals are properly defined and met.”

Entitled “Net Zero by 2038 – is Manchester ready?”, the event explored the ways accountants and finance professionals can help organisations set, and measure performance against, the meaningful targets that will be required to meet Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s goal of achieving net zero 12 years before the deadline set for the UK as a whole.

Mr Peace is acknowledged that achieving net zero would be difficult for many businesses, and emphasised the importance of collaboration in what will be a shared endeavour. He said, “Trusted advisers always play such a key role in influencing business, and, as accountancy professionals, you can help steer your clients and employers to the various support and guidance that’s available, and in so doing help ensure their resilience and competitiveness.”

These resources include Bee Net Zero, Greater Manchester’s flagship carbon reduction programme delivered by stakeholders including Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Growth Company, Electricity Northwest, the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and Manchester Climate Change Agency.

He also encouraged delegates to sign up to the fully funded programme “Low Carbon Skills: Journey To Net Zero”, available to individuals from any business with a base in Greater Manchester, and the “Green Economy” newsfeed.

“Green Economy is a community of solution providers that started right here in Greater Manchester. The Green Economy marketplace makes these home-grown solutions, and more, accessible to businesses across a full range of sectors,” Mr Peace said.

Mr Peace’s keynote address was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Alex Narang, executive of strategy and transactions at EY, which explored the issues surrounding net zero and ESG reporting in depth.

The event was chaired by Rod Sellers OBE, president of ICAEW Manchester. He said, “This was an important event at a pivotal time. This week’s flagship report on climate change by the UN underlined the urgency of acting now, and this event was a step forward in helping Greater Manchester’s businesses make the meaningful changes that will be necessary.

“I would like to thank all of our speakers and panellists, as well as our hosts at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. I would also encourage all our members to start doing their bit by visiting the ICAEW Manchester website and joining our Sustainability and Climate Change Community.”