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Climate Change is a global issue, but the solutions will be local and regional

Source PSE Dec 19/ Jan 20

 Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive, Northern Housing Consortium

"Climate Change is a global issue, but the innovation and solutions will be local and regional"


The North has always had the ability to solve difficult problems through innovation and ingenuity and there’s nowhere this is needed more than in the fight against climate change. 

Public concerns over the future of the environment have risen dramatically in the past year. In a recent survey, 37% of the public in 2018 thought the environment was set to get worse, a year later that figure rose to 51%. The survey also found strong public demand for action on climate change. When asked whether the government should go ahead with a range of measures to protect the environment, each measure was supported by at least 80% of the public – this is not an issue that will fade away.

The North is on the frontline of this growing issue: 56 of our councils and combined authorities (and counting) have now declared climate emergencies. And rightly so – the recent floods across the North of England have provided one example of the devastating impact climate change can have on our communities.

This is an issue that goes beyond politics. There are disagreements about how quickly we adapt – should we aim for 2050? 2038? 2030? But there is clear certainty on the destination: we are all on a journey to a zero-carbon Britain.

Whilst the issue is global, and some of the commitments are national, the innovation and solutions will be local and regional, reflecting local differences in the source of carbon emissions. And it is here that improving the North’s existing housing has such a vital role to play.

Making our homes fit for the future won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap. The Committee on Climate Change have estimated the cost of bringing an existing home up to the standards achievable in new build at over £41,000. These costs will likely be prohibitive in many cases; but even aiming for the lower standard Code Level “C” recommended by the BEIS Select Committee “Building Towards Net Zero” in July, is going to prove extremely challenging in the North where our housing stock is older. With one in five of our homes built pre-1919, and two in five before 1944, we face more significant challenges in phasing out old technologies that contribute to climate change.

We need to view climate change as an opportunity to innovate, to improve the sustainability of our homes, making them affordable to heat and making them fit for the needs of our future (and ageing) population.  This will benefit our health, our finances and our local economies, creating the green jobs of the future.

The North’s role in the “Green Industrial Revolution” was recognised in the first Manifesto for the North produced by our 11 LEPs this autumn. The North has real potential to lead the way on this agenda - we already produce half of England’s renewable electricity.

The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) are developing a programme of work on decarbonisation. We don’t have all the answers – which is why the NHC team are stepping up engagement with our council, housing association and ALMO members at all levels, to understand their priorities, and the resources and policy changes we need to make large scale, carbon focused renewal of the North’s housing stock a reality.

Put simply, we think it’s time for the North to lead in generating the ideas and action to support housing innovation that will benefit our ecosystems, our people and our economy.


On the 4th and 5th of March in Manchester, the EvoNorth conference is uniting hundreds of chief executives, directors and senior managers from across the Northern Powerhouse responsible for the delivery of transformational public services to the millions of citizens located in the North.

Over the two days delegates get to collaborate and share best practice through a series of seminars, panel discussions, workshops and innovation hubs focusing on improved outcomes and transformational public services and get to hear from an eclectic mix of speakers and panellists including Sir Merrick Cockell from Localis and the UK Municipal Bonds Agency; Cllr James Jamieson of the LGA; Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director, Transport for the North; Roger Marsh, Chair of NP11 and many more... 

 Click here to secure your subsidised tickets to this CPD accredited event for only £89.95 each and save over £200.


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