Text of Cllr Annette Wright’s speech proposing #Climate Emergency declaration for #Manchester

Last Wednesday, 10th July 2019, Manchester City Council debated a motion calling for the declaration of a climate emergency.  It was proposed by Councillor Annette Wright, (Labour, Hulme).  The transcript is below, and a video can be found here.

Other videos, transcripts, tweets and photos can be found here.

Dates for your diary – Weds 17th July (today!) at 2pm, the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee will be discussing climate change and also – cycle lanes on Great Ancoats St.  Meet at 1pm at Waterhouse Pub to go over to meeting.  It will be livetweeted, and is being livestreamed.

Monday 22nd July – Climate Emergency Manchester releases its draft implementation plan for the Climate Emergency Declaration.  [We believe Manchester City Council needs to bring draft implementation plans for some elements of the Climate Emergency Declaration to scrutiny committees in early September, and a completed implementation plan for the entire motion to scrutiny in October.]

Weds 24th July, 10am. The Executive of the city Council meets. There’s a report from the City Solicitor about the Climate Emergency motion to be tabled.

If you want to get involved in scrutinising what the council DOES after its fine words of 10th July, and you want to build the capacity to do useful stuff, then get in touch with us via the contact form or email – climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com

Transcript of Councillor Annette Wright’s speech 

Thank you, Lord Mayor. Just to deal with the amendment first. I have spoken to Councillor Kilpatrick and Councillor Stanton and I’ve agreed to incorporate their amendment  (1) into my motion (2) so I will now move the motion in its entirety. Is that okay? Yes okay thank you.

I’d first like to thank Manchester Labour group for giving me the opportunity to move this motion. And when I thought about what the subject of my motion should be I considered all the conversations that I’ve had with residents in Hume about the environment and the climate and our planet.

And it is clear to me that we need to do two things at this council. We need to state our intention much more forcefully and clearly than we have done already. And we need to ensure that the issue of climate change is embedded into everything that we do and is top of our list of priorities.

So I’d like to ask you first today to join me in declaring a climber emergency for the City of Manchester. The situation we are in should not be any surprise to us. For years and years and years climate experts and activists have told us that rampant capitalism is destroying our planet and that we have to do something about it and find a better way before it is too late.

Those with power didn’t listen or understand or care, so we are where we are now in what is clearly an emergency situation which we must deal with as we would deal with any emergency; with intelligence, resolve, inclusiveness and passion.

So what I am asking you to take on board today is not just a statement – it is a plan,

A plan which will see us review our structures and processes and procedures to make sure we’re moving towards becoming carbon neutral as early as we can. I plan done on Our Manchester way, which will involve everyone who lives and works and goes to school and makes money from this city,

A plan which I hope will help pave the way to a socialist Labour government, which would introduce a green new deal and a green industrial revolution, but which will hold to account whoever is in power and insist that those in Westminster take those issues as seriously as we intend to do in this Town Hall.

At this point I’d like to just acknowledge my seconder the motion, Councillor Eve Holt who was working on this plan long before I was given this opportunity, and also the members of the Executive who’ve given me their ideas and supported me and the leader of the Council and other colleagues who have signed this motion, so that it can be heard today.

So what is the plan? It’s quite long and detailed in the motion – I haven’t got time in this speech to go over it all. But just to summarize if we carry this motion we will work with everybody we can:With partners, experts, activists: – anyone who wants to be involved down toward level to ensure that we are moving towards our target to become zero carbon as early as we possibly can.

We will recognize that there is a live debate about what that date should be, and so we will work with everybody to see if it is possible to bring that date forward, while not losing side to the targets we already have

We will work with experts to review the way we are coming up with those targets to make sure that we are properly taken into account those carbon emissions which we don’t have a hundred percent control over.

We will also educate ourselves we will use our influence not just with central government but with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and to ensure that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund divests from fossil fuels as early as possible.

Health, housing, highways procurement planning, everything we do will be subject to review to make sure we are moving towards our carbon neutral targets and that we are not doing anything which takes us further away from that.

None of this is going to be easy, but I think we have great support behind us. Because this is a city of activists. We don’t just believe in the right to protest we believe that protest is right. And that brings me on to the climate strikers because when I was writing this motion, I thought about when I was their age and I used to live in fear of nuclear war. And thinking back now that was a reasonable and rational fear for me to have had at that time.

And I see the climate strikers collectivizing their fears and taking action themselves and demanding that others take action. And it made me think about the trade union movement, where I am active and my own union, PCS, where 10 years ago we had a plan for a million climate jobs. And I think these young activists are opening it up for trade unionists like me to be able to raise these issues in our workplace and with our employers and hopefully to join them and take action as well.

And I just want to say a phrase that used to be sent to me because I think it’s relevant here. People used to say to me back then:  when you’re young you think you know it all. Well I can tell you now when you’re older you might look back and realize that in some respects you did.

Let us have the humility to be led by our young people while taking the responsibility as the Council of the City of Manchester to make sure we do lots and lots of leading as well.

Thank you for listening to me I hope you can vote for me. Let’s change the world together.


(1) The Liberal Democrats proposed the following amendment: “Explore the possibility of introducing a 2030 target in line with the IPCC report and request that a report on its viability be brought back to the Executive before the end of the year.”

(2) The text of the motion, lightly annotated, can be found here.