Looking back at a year of Climate Emergency Manchester with a series of posts from the Core Group members.
I’m an ex-physio and aspiring academic. I’ve been “doing “ climate activism since 2006 (Climate Camp), and was founder of Manchester Climate Fortnightly and co-founder of Manchester Climate Monthly. I am, in Manchester’s environment scene, pure Marmite, and relatively happy with that, fwiw.
My CEM involvement came when I phoned up my friend Calum McFarlane and asked if he was up for working together on a petition to get the City Council to declare a climate emergency. This was late March 2019.
I’ve learnt loads – especially on the drafting of realistic plans, and some basic computing stuff that somehow I missed out on. I’ve also gone from novice tongue-biting to occasional practitioner-level tongue biting, and have improved my schmoozing and mentoring skills (well, I think so, but I am probably wrong.) I’ve been so proud to see a bunch of reports and briefing papers come out that I have very little to do with personally. I think CEM has helped people understand how the council structures work, and how it fails on climate policy. I think CEM has put forward many good ideas (including those of other people – see our With Love and Rockets report). And the Council is continuing to steadfastly ignore those ideas, of course. We knew it would be like this.
I am – famously – impatient, and I would love to have seen more people taking on some of the boring and complicated grunt work, around attending and reporting on scrutiny committees, etc. That is coming, we just haven’t figured out how to support people well enough yet.
What has it all cost? I am better at not overworking and neglecting other stuff than I used to (or, rather than better, ‘less bad’ – to be honest, there is an element of ‘why bust a gut, we’re toast anyhow’ ) So, it has cost a little bit of money, and a lot of time (but a lot of that time is with friends, or doing interesting things, so it’s all good). But “cost” is a two-edged sword – if I hadn’t been doing it, I think I would not have been able to cope with the Australian bushfires. I think I would have ended up being sectioned or something. CEM has been unlike any activism I’ve done except possibly call to real action (which was a short period), and working with Arwa Aburawa on MCFly.
What next? Well, the challenges have changed since the lockdown began. The main thing is for us to help each other and our supporters get through this as best we can and be ready for whatever “new” normal emerges. There will be a huge desire and push for the old ways to resume, and we have to work with other organisations to push for the radical action that is still needed. In practice, that means working with supporters now, making it easier for them to get skilled up so that we can all push for real action, when the time comes.