This is a marathon not a sprint (1). At today’s Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, councillors recommended that the MCC Climate Action Plan and Framework 2020-25 go to the Executive next week, without major modification. As CEM’s briefing paper highlighted, these documents showed greater vision but still lack a pathway. Now that the plans look set to be rubber-stamped on 11 March, the long-term task of scrutinising their implementation becomes all the more important. Questions remain about ‘how’ and next steps,
The increased documentation combined with the proximity of today’s meeting to local elections meant that councillors were always unlikely to reject the plans. We did not expect the levels of confusion seen at February’s NESC.
Nevertheless, some important concerns were flagged.
- Details – Councillors Wright and White asked for clarification on broad terms used (what is meant by ‘phase 2 carbon reduction?’) and struggled to understand what some of the measures proposed here translated to in reality, on the ground. 1000 new trees will be planted, but where?
- Partnerships – Councillors hinted at the limits of the current partnership set-up. Cllr Ali made interventions on indirect emissions, and the need to work with training providers. Cllr White asked how the MCCA model could incorporate the private rented sector.
- Funds – Multiple councillors raised the spectre of insufficient funds. Cllr Kilpatrick reminded us of the imminent risk of diminished access to EU grants. Cllr Jeavons simply lamented that there was not more money set aside.
Look out for these issues returning. And keep monitoring, councillors and citizens alike. Just as the euphoria of the last summer’s climate emergency declaration was followed by a realisation that little was happening, many of these queries could resurface. And something is different, even from last July. Citizens are attending committee meetings in person, watching on webcast, live-tweeting. New venue Patagonia offers CEM supporters a chance to talk thorough the issues arising in advance, to make sure anyone new to this process does not feel intimidated (over a decent coffee).
So, wannabe Usain Bolts: hang up your spikes. But to those with stamina and a sense that much remains unclear about Manchester’s path to zero carbon… see you soon! (2)
(1) For purposes of analogy, ignore the stat that marathon runners emit more CO2 than short-distance athletes and many other contact sports.
(2) Soon being Wednesday 27 May 2020, post-elections. No committee meeting in April due to purdah.