At the moment, the local authorities in Manchester are either able to ignore climate change, or else are talking the talk but not walking the walk.
One way that concerned citizens could force the politicians to at least talk about climate change would be to use the petitions scheme that every council has.
If a petition gets 1% of the people who live in a council area as signatories (and that can be electronic or on paper), then the Council HAS to debate the motion put forward. That doesn’t mean they have to pass the motion, or then do anything, but it does mean they have to talk about it.
The additional benefits are as follows
- Asking people to sign the petition creates the opportunity for dialogue with them that might lead on to them being slightly-or-much more involved in campaigning/activism.
- It gives people who sign the petition an “excuse” to talk to their friends, families and colleagues, breaking the silence around climate change and what we could/should do
- The process of getting those signatures – and it won’t be easy – will help create or expand networks, and help them improve their skills and knowledge.
Below is the petition that has been set up, already, for Manchester City Council. The other nine local authorities do not (yet) have petitions.
In the next post I will go into more detail about what the skills, knowledge and relationships involved might be.
Petitions: Why not use the “democratic” structures?
As of 2009, all local authorities were obliged to introduce an e-petition scheme. If you get more than 1% of the folks who live/work/study in an area to sign a proper petition (where you have to confirm your name, address, eligibility etc), then the council has to debate the issue you put forward. So, say, for example, that someone had put forward this –
We the undersigned petition the council to
declare a climate emergency, with a target to be “zero carbon” by the year 2030, with a proportionate share of Manchester Airports emissions (35.5 percent owned by the Council) included in the carbon budget it sets.
Other councils around the United Kingdom have declared a climate emergency. While Manchester has set a target of being zero-carbon by 2038 (based on production-based emissions), this is not ambitious enough. Moreover, it excludes a fair share of the overall emissions from Manchester Airport. Declaring a climate emergency, and then taking the relevant actions, will show true leadership on the crucial issue facing young people today.