Green Leaders Lunch: Devolution of Net Zero – key takeaways

On 23rd November 22nd we held our first ever Green Leaders Lunch at Manchester Central, kindly sponsored by Enspec Power, Manchester Central and Sterling Event Group.

The focus was on the devolution of net zero and speakers Nick Mason – The National Trust, Jonny Sadler – Electricity North West, Mara Rastall – Enspec, Shaun Hinds – Manchester Central, Amy House – Green Economy and Amer Gaffar – Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre offered their key takeaways on how business and the North can reach net zero targets without Westminster backing.

Attendees listened to the panellists and then engaged in their own roundtable discussions. You can find key points from each speaker and action points below.

All speakers agreed that we’re not yet on target to hit any net zero targets, nationally or regionally.

Nicholas Mason – The National Trust named climate change as the biggest threat to it’s mission a decade ago. Nick says that we need to “go forward with greater speed and confidence”.

Amy House – Quicker change will come from existing businesses pivoting rather than new businesses in the green space. The North needs more devolved powers to hit it’s targets and local authorities needs to prioritise transport and housing

Amer Gaffar – We need programmes to underpin strategy. These need to be linked to the skills agenda and the education that we need around it. Until then, there will just be lots of strategies with no plans to implement them.

Shaun Hinds – There needs to be incentives for businesses to “do the right thing”, including financial/tax/investment breaks. Net zero has to be commercially viable.

Jonny Sadler – Devolution is key. National money needs to be put into local initiatives ie. Bee Net Zero.

Actions from panelists – what can we do?

Nick Mason, The National Trust

  • There is a perceived complexity to net zero and carbon reduction which leads to an uncertainty of where to start. More education is needed around carbon reduction in general and companies need to know that they shouldn’t “wait for perfect” before getting started.

Jonny Sadler, Electricity North West

  • Businesses/organisations looking to implement green energy solutions should talk to their Distribution Network Officer (DNO) at the earliest opportunity.

Mara Rastall, Enspec Power

  • Organisations should approach green energy solutions with a realistic idea of how change and adoptions can take. We need to bring the discussion to people who aren’t part of the green industry and help them engage in more sustainable practices.

Shaun Hinds, Manchester Central

  • We need much more communication around why large companies such as Manchester Central are making changes and what difference it actually makes.
  • Organisations need to hold their clients and suppliers to account to affect as much positive change as possible.

Amer Gaffar, Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre

  • We need more innovative finance options so that we don’t have to rely on government subsidies.
  • One option is to set up a “Greater Manchester Energy Cooperative” to share the risks and strains that individual businesses are experiencing.


  • Will create an accessible “Introduction to sustainability” event which will be uploaded to youtube to be shared with businesses/people who need an introduction to the conversation.