3 days left for your ideas about urgent #climate action in #Manchester

Recently the leader of Manchester City Council wrote that  “we are interested in is practical, deliverable solutions that have support across all our communities to tackle a fundamental issue. We are open to working with anybody who wants to join us in that task.”

Which is great, because so are you, and so is Climate Emergency Manchester.  Just to recap, we are publishing this letter, which appeared in today’s Manchester Evening News.

cem men letter 2019 10 16

Text as follows –

On Thursday 10th October, to mark the three month anniversary of the City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency declaration, we released a report about what action the council had taken. The report was based on Freedom of Information Act requests, and was titled ‘Dead Tortoise Society.’ It made depressing reading – on almost half of the 23 elements in the declaration, there was no action. On several others there was very slow action. On the question of re-examining the 2038 zero-carbon target in an open and transparent process by the end of the year, the Council seems to have done less than nothing

We are writing another report. We want people’s ideas about what the Council could do – with zero money (since while they have £37m to buy a retail park and turn it into a car park, they have no money for the climate emergency). We are asking what the Council could do between now and Christmas, and then New Year’s Day to April 2020. What would you like to see individual councillors doing?. We also want to know what you (as an individual or as part of an organisation) pledge to do in the same periods.

Send your ideas to us at climateemergencymanchester@gmail.net by Saturday 19th October at 12 noon. The report will be released – and sent to councillors – on Monday 21st October.

Marc Hudson, on behalf of Climate Emergency Manchester

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#Manchester City Council advertises for Deputy Director of Planning. “Climate Emergency” absent…

Manchester City Council has advertised for a new Deputy Director of Planning. The advert had one glancing mention of climate change, but did not, oddly, say ‘by the way, in July we announced a climate emergency and if you want the gig, you better fill your interview with dozens of ideas about what the planning department can and must do’. No, it really didn’t. This silence has aggravated people who know about these things. One of them, Dr Anon, has written the following…

 

The proposed Deputy Director of Planning for Manchester sets us up to ‘continue to do the same thing but expect a different outcome’. The job description (JD) of the advertised role fails to take into account the climate emergency declaration, which gives a potentially Freudian insight into the council. The declaration may be viewed as an indirect recognition of failure in Manchester’s Duty to Protect. This role will guide planning for decades potentially risking doubling down on that failure.

Planning is central to delivering and maintaining a zero-carbon, resilient future. It controls the building stock, its development (corridors), transportation inter-linkages and wider aspects of the environment (impacting issues such as green and blue infrastructure, that should facilitate rewilding and other sinks).

In terms of impact, the overarching role of the planning department is potentially the most significant, of all departments, to the long-term resilience of Manchester. Regrettably, the JD places heavy emphasis on economic growth.

There appears to be a disconnect between the JD and the necessities associated with implementing the infrastructure that is essential to reducing emissions at the pace necessary to have a 50-50 chance of preventing dangerous climate change. This is all too familiar. It must be soul-destroying to many members of council staff.

The council in declaring an emergency now appears to be looking to central-government to save it, when it needs to put in place the structures – in human and other forms – that will deliver on the changes required.

As each climate report emerges we learn that the situation is worse than we previously feared and the global stock of carbon has continued to grow. We, therefore, know that the 2038 target, with the assumptions upon which it rests, like the majority of carbon targets, is going to be rendered inadequate.

The requirement for a safe, clean, vibrant neighbourhoods would seem to be a council’s basic duties. It doesn’t need to be stated but also does not reflect an emergency state. Ultimately this is a JD for a post to facilitate rapid growth to 2025 and to ensure growth is maintained beyond. Growth, in a state of emergency is a-nice-to-have, it cant be the primary focus.

This is a leadership role that, to reiterate, will have implications for decades, it, therefore, requires explicit recognition of the emergency today. The recent IPCC report made clear the need to act by 2030. This has, however, been largely misunderstood. The year 2030 is the point when the structures to deliver mitigation must be in place, not when agreements are reached.

In effect, a central role of any Planning Director should be to facilitate Manchester at least being 100% zero-carbon. This requires a building stock, a transportation network and suitable support mechanisms (energy, waste and water) to be in place. This needs to be long before 2038 and measurements against these are far easier to track than carbon inventories that are produced 2 years out of date.

It is possible, it is necessary – not ambitious (or it isn’t an emergency) – but it requires a different skill-set and vision, to the one highlighted in this JD. Come on Manchester you are better than this!

Concerned, Dr. Anon

What are YOUR ideas for #climate action in #Manchester?

Manchester people need to step up and fill the leadership vacuum on climate action since Manchester City Council is acting slowly or not at all.

So, we want to know.

What are your ideas about what the Council could do – with zero money – about climate change between now and Christmas,and then New Year’s Day to April 2020?

What will you (as an individual or as part of an organisation) pledge to do in the same periods?

Climate Emergency Manchester wants your ideas and pledges by 12 noon on Saturday 19th October. We will release a report on Monday 21st October, and make sure copies get into the hands of councillors who give a damn. We will give them copies to give to their colleagues, and to officers who give a damn.

Here’s the situation

On Thursday 10th October, to mark the three month anniversary of the climate emergency declaration by the City Council, Climate Emergency Manchester (CEM) released a report about what action the council had (not) taken. The report, titled ‘Dead Tortoise Society’ made depressing reading – on almost half of the 23 elements in the declaration, there was no action. On several others there was very slow action. On the question of re-examining the 2038 target in an open and transparent process by the end of the year, the Council seems to have done less than nothing (yes, that’s not a typo). If this is their idea of an emergency, we’d hate to see Business As Usual…

Here’s the mission

Despair and pull your hair out. No, wait, that’s (possibly) next year’s mission.

The mission is this –

Firstly, tell us your ideas about how Manchester City Council could step up real action on climate change, both on the 23 elements of its declaration, but ALSO other things they could do. But here’s the catch – your ideas have to involve ZERO money, since there is zero money (except for buying retail parks and turning them into carparks. There’s money for that, obvs).

Secondly, going beyond ‘the Council should do something’,tell us your ideas and pledges about what YOU will do on climate change in Manchester (ideally with other people, ideally actions that make it easier for other people to take action too).

If you don’t have ideas you feel ready to share, then your mission is to spread this blogpost/meme/whatever-you-are-reading to as many people who might have ideas…

The email to send ideas to is climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com Please put IDEAS 4 ACTION in the subject header.

Your deadline, again, is Saturday 19th October at 12 noon.

Any questions that are not answered below in the details section, contact us!

Details

If you want to have your name (either as an individual or group) attached to a council-facing idea, please say so. Otherwise we will put ‘Anon’ next to it.

Obviously, we need your name against any pledge you make.

We’re dividing the “suggestions to the Council” section in four ways

1 and 2 – Ideas for accelerating action on the elements of the declaration, divided into October-Xmas and Jan-April 2020

3 and 4 – Ideas for accelerating action on Council climate action beyond the declaration, divided into October-Xmas and Jan-April 2020

We’re dividing the “pledges from the pubic section in four ways

1 and 2 – Pledges for accelerating action on the elements of the declaration and Council climate action in general, divided into October-Xmas and Jan-April 2020

3 and 4 – Pledges for accelerating climate action in Manchester, divided into October-Xmas and Jan-April 2020

Putting climate change on the agenda. Literally.

Up and down the country – in church rooms, village halls, back-rooms of pubs, and elsewhere – people meet. Civic societies and friends of parks, beauty spots and countless other local treasures gather together, drink tea and eat homemade cake. They meet to discuss how they can keep – or improve – the areas that they each hold dear, or defend them from threats.

Unscrupulous property developers, poorly considered road building, “litter louts” and changing rates of crime or “antisocial behaviour” are among the matters commonly discussed. What is much less often seen on the agenda is the greatest threat to any precious or beautiful place in the world; climate and ecological breakdown.  Last Tuesday, I and two colleagues from CEM set out to shift the balance just a little, by giving a talk entitled “Climate Change – what does it mean for Manchester?” for the Northenden Civic Society. The talk was recorded and is available below for you to watch and share.  I’d like to thank the hosts for inviting us, and all those who attended for their thoughtful questions (unfortunately, the Q&A was not able to be recorded for technical reasons).

If you’d like someone from CEM to do a similar talk (or a related topic, or a workshop, etc) at your meeting in the Greater Manchester area, whatever it may be, we’d be more than happy to do so. Contact us on Twitter or email.

New report: Manchester City Council a ‘dead tortoise society’ on climate change.

Manchester City Council has made no progress on many the 23 elements of its climate emergency declaration, according to a report released today.

hdqimageThe report, called “Hung, Drawn and Quarterly #01: Dead Tortoise Society,” is based on a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, and is released on the three month anniversary of the Council’s unanimous declaration of a climate emergency. It assesses the actions of the Council on the elements of the declaration against a five point scale from “speedy hare” to “dead tortoise.” Almost all of the elements are assessed as either “slow tortoise” or “dead tortoise.”

• The Council is not taking action to perform an open and transparent review of its 2038 target to be zero carbon by the end of this year, in clear breach of its motion, which was unanimously passed
• The Council will take 4 years to update its local plans
• The Council has held no discussions about reducing the air travel of its officers and elected members
• The Council has held only one of the meetings in each of its 32 wards it promised to do by April 2020, leaving 31 to be done in the next six months.

Calum McFarlane of Climate Emergency Manchester (3) said
“This is extremely,disappointing. Declaring a climate emergency was supposed to increase the pace of action. The council seems to have done nothing about looking at bringing forward the zero carbon date to 2030 after an open and transparent process. This directly contradicts the promises made.
“On most other issues, either existing work is continuing, at the same slow pace, or nothing is happening at all.
“We know that many councillors genuinely care, and want to see action. They, like us, are angry at the lack of any sense of urgency from the leadership of the council, both elected and unelected. We will continue to work with people throughout Manchester to raise not just the level of ambition, but also action. We need deeds, not words.”

You can read the report here. We urge you to share it on social media, and especially to send it to your councillors if you live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries.

If you want to get involved in the work CEM does, please fill in our ‘get involved’ form here. We will NOT share your details with anyone else.

 

Replying to the Council’s reply on #climate emergency inaction

In response to the revelation that Manchester City Council has assigned no new staff, and sought no new resources, to deal with climate change after declaring a climate emergency in July, the Executive Member for the Environment, has given a statement  to the online publication Northern Quota.  The statement, which is in italics and block quotes below,

  • contains condescension,
  • fails to contend the basic facts we reported, and then
  • consumes people’s time by providing a very partial picture of what has been going on.

In this reply I (Marc Hudson, co-founder of Climate Emergency Manchester)  respond.  There is a much longer story to be told, and some of that can be found in the Deeds not Words report mentioned below. A longer project, which details the failings in Manchester (and not just of the City Council) and what is to be learnt from these failings, is underway. For now, this –

“While we understand and welcome the passion people have about the issue of climate change, it simply isn’t true to say that the council doesn’t share their sense of urgency. We do.”

The condescending term “passion” does not capture people’s anger, dismay and despair at ten years of empty promises. It also ignores the fact that as well as forensic analysis of the Council’s many failings on climate change, individuals and groups have been making concrete specific proposals from 2009 onwards (In that year the ‘Call to Real Action’, which forced the Council to increase its ambition and change its policymaking process, albeit briefly). The latest of these proposals, a 43 page document produced by Climate Emergency Manchester and allies in July 2019 called ‘Climate Deeds not Words’ lists things the City Council could do in the short-term to build trust and momentum.  It has, of course, been ignored.

Let’s also examine the claim that the Council leadership  “welcome passion”.

In late 2018 many Manchester Labour Party members worked hard to include detailed proposals in the Party’s manifesto for the May 2019 local authority elections.  To their dismay and bewilderment, the actual manifesto contained little of this work, and made no mention of a climate emergency declaration.

More recently, elected members on the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee were extremely passionate (exasperated) about the extremely low quality of the consultation over the Great Ancoats St redevelopment.  The Executive … ignored them.

“That’s why we declared a climate change emergency. That’s why we are committed to a goal of Manchester becoming carbon neutral by 2038,12 years ahead of the national target.

Actually, as the Executive Member knows, the amended climate emergency motion, passed unanimously, calls on the City Council to examine whether the zero carbon date can be brought forward to 2030, with a report to come to Executive by the end of the year. It is fascinating that the Executive Member has not mentioned this in her reply to the Northern Quota, given that during her re-election bid as a councillor earlier this year she told Friends of the Earth

“there is a strong argument that the target should be 2030, and I would like to see Manchester aiming for this, but of course we need to bring our partners in the economic activity of the city and above all the people we represent along with us as well”

As will be revealed on Thursday in our first Hung Drawn and Quarterly report, no meaningful action has been taken to holding an open and transparent review (the truth may be even worse – we’re not entirely sure yet).

“And that’s why a huge amount of initiatives already underway with extensive work being done to establish how this radical reduction in the city’s carbon emissions will be achieved.

Many of these initiatives are simply old failed initiatives  reheated. Every two or three years the Council and its dependent bodies such as the Manchester Climate Change “Agency”  rebrand or refresh.  Action is always just about to be taken, after the next plan/review is complete…

“We aren’t starting from scratch. The council has reduced its own carbon emissions by almost 50 per cent since 2010 – exceeding our 41 per cent reduction target. “

Sadly the Executive Member has chosen not to include a little relevant information: that the Council staffing numbers are at 6000 now, down from 10000 in 2010, and that many buildings have been sold off (how many is a mystery- FoIA requests have been blocked).  So, of course there has been a steep reduction in the council’s own emissions. Any honest account of the council’s emissions profile has to include this.

Also, it was revealed in November 2018 that the Executive Member had unilaterally cancelled the quarterly carbon reports to Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee that had been initiated (under activist pressure) years earlier. When asked if she thought this sent the right message, she said yes, it did.

“We’ve already got a huge range of relevant initiatives underway, from replacing street lights with lower emission LED ones to tackling single use plastic at events in the city and powering our buildings with cleaner energy through the Civic Quarter Heat Network. But clearly we can and will do more. Tackling climate change isn’t something we can do on our own, it’s a responsibility for everyone in the city – indeed the council’s direct emissions only account for around two per cent of the city’s as a whole – but we are determined to show real leadership.”

In 2009 the City Council committed to getting 1000 organisations to endorse the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan. These endorsers would then write and implement their own plans.  In the event they got 200 or so endorsers (after sending out one email) and quickly gave up.  The City Council also allowed the Steering Group it dominates to a) cancel elections to the group and b) cancel the day-long stakeholder conferences which were supposed to galvanise action.  That’s their version of real leadership.

“This means putting the push for zero carbon at the heart of everything we do – both our day-to-day operations and our decision-making. We are working intensively on a bold zero carbon action plan, due to receive final approval in March, which will set out in detail how Manchester can achieve the city’s zero carbon target, with a strong focus on the things which will make the biggest difference.

“We will provide an update on this later this month. Realistically, the scale of change we are trying to achieve cannot be achieved overnight and needs to be carefully thought through rather than a knee-jerk reaction.”

Nobody is calling for knee-jerk reaction. That is just a smear and a straw man, and indicative of desperation.  We are calling – as some of us have been calling for a decade – for real action, taken openly in a spirit of learning and humility, and with an understanding of how leadership comes with the expectation that actions will indeed be scrutinised, something that some people seem to struggle with and even resent.

“But we are balancing this against the need to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible as soon as possible. 

“We will keep the resources we need to achieve this under constant review but to some extent this is a red herring. Everyone in Manchester, both inside and outside the council, has a role to play and it’s about embedding the drive for zero carbon in everything we do,  not having distinct teams and funding pots which are solely responsible for delivering it.”

Very repetitious here, and again a straw man.  The inconvenient Truth remains that the Council is responsible for the Council’s actions. Since declaring a climate emergency it has

  1. Seconded no additional staff
  2. Located no internal resources
  3. Failed to seek external resources.

These truths remain, despite all the bluster and vague promises.

Manchester City Council assigns NO new resources for #Climate Emergency

Campaigners have revealed that Manchester City Council has assigned no additional resources to climate action after its ‘climate emergency’ declaration in July.  In response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in early September, the Council was forced to admit that “no additional staff have been seconded to work on this area since July 2019” and no resources from within the council reassigned. In response to a question about whether any external bids for funding had been made, the Council admitted  “No bids have been submitted since July 2019.”

foia 27 sept 2019“Declaring a climate emergency was a vital step but the task ahead is enormous,” says Rose Arnold of Rising Up! Manchester Families.
“Manchester missed last year’s target of 13% carbon reduction by 11%. We’re nowhere near. There’s no way the changes needed can be carried out without resources. At the very least a team is needed, which should include a member of the Executive Committee. We’re deeply worried that the declaration of emergency won’t translate into the action needed.”

Calum McFarlane of Climate Emergency Manchester said
“this is disappointing, but not surprising. We know that many councillors genuinely care, and want to see action. They, like us, are angry at the lack of any sense of urgency from the leadership of the council, both elected and unelected.   We will continue to work with people throughout Manchester to raise not just the level of ambition, but also action. We need deeds, not words.”

On Thursday10 October – the three month anniversary of the City Council’s declaration –  Climate Emergency Manchester will release its first quarterly progress report on the Council’s actions, based on a series of Freedom of Information Act requests. The report,  known as “Hung Drawn and Quarterly #01”, will be free to download from www.climateemergencymanchester.net

If you want to sign the petition calling on Manchester City Council to declare a climate emergency, you can do so here.  If you want to get involved in CEM’s work, email us on climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com