Climate petition, #climate history – what happened at 350 parts per million… #SeventhScrutinyCommitteeNow

We here at Climate Emergency Manchester are trying to get 4000 signatures on a petition calling for Manchester City Council to set up a Climate Scrutiny Committee.

The argument is as follows:

  • In July 2019 Manchester City Council unanimously (i.e. all 96 councillors) voted to declare a climate emergency.
  • That SHOULD have meant (but hasn’t yet) a huge increase in the amount of time and energy devoted to dealing with climate change. It SHOULD have meant a lot more activity generally (it hasn’t yet).
  • All that extra activity needs (or will need! to be scrutinised, to make sure it is being effectively and efficiently done, and that problems are brought into the light, and new suggestions made.
  • In the absence of a new scrutiny committee, what we have is either a) other items not getting scrutinised at all because they have been “pushed out” by climate , or else b) tokenistic and rushed scrutiny of the “expanded” programme of activity.  Rushed and absent scrutiny enables mistakes to be hidden, cans to be kicked down the road, and the same old delay, stale thinking, PR stunts and obfuscation to continue.

A new scrutiny committee, dedicated to climate change is simply a logical follow on from declaring an emergency. Unless you thought that the declaring of an emergency was the END of a process – a way of shutting things down, shutting people up – rather than a new direction….

So, we need those 4000 signatures to find out what the councillors actually meant when they voted for a climate emergency, and whether they are willing to submit the Council and its partner organisations to proper regular forensic scrutiny, and to hear new ideas. Or whether they really just want business as usual.

</>End of rant.<>

So, 350 signatures.  Firstly thank you to all the people who have signed, who are out there asking others to sign. If we can help in anyway – providing videos, FAQs, etc, please email us on

350 is not a particularly memorable number, unless you are a total climate geek  (cough, cough, whistles, looks around nervously).

350 is both the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide that climate scientist James Hansen suggested was a “safe” amount.

It’s also the atmospheric concentration we had back in 1988.

What is so special about 1988?  Well, it was a long hot summer, especially in the US. And it was the year that the threat of man-made climate change, which was something scientists had become increasingly concerned about – especially since the mid 1970s –  finally became something that elite politicians had to talk about.  George H.W. Bush talked about it on the campaign trail as he sought to move on up from Vice President to President.  Margaret Thatcher talked about it.  1988 was the beginning of the first big wave of climate-specific global concern, which culminated with the signing of the 1992 “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Since then, we have had 32 years of empty promises and greenwash.  Manchester has done its fair share of that.

Only with regular, frequent, forensic scrutiny have we a snowball’s chance in hell of changing the habits of the last 32 years.

Please sign the petition. Please share it.


There are LOADS of things you can do to help spread the word.  Below is a list of seven.  More ideas available upon request.

Here are seven crucial ways you can safely help us get the remaining 3141 signature we need.

  1. Share the petition – individually – with everyone you know who lives,works or studies within Manchester City Council’s boundaries.  Yes, tweeting is good, as is tagging in Facebook but let’s be honest – most of us ignore those sorts of things most of the time. Therefore, because this is a climate emergency, we are asking you to step it up a notch-  we are asking you to do is write to people individually, or speak to them on the phone, or text them.  We have made some basic videos about the petition, and will be making more.
  2. Print off copies of the petition and get people in your social bubble (people who live with you, work with you etc) to sign. They have to include their name, signature, circle “live/work/study” and then give the relevant address. Then email us on and we will come collect.
  3. Invite us to speak at any online meetings you are part of – whether it is something religious, something Tenants and Residents, something to do with sports or hobbies. Basically any meeting which is going to include people who live, work or study within the City Council’s boundaries. There are five of us in the core group of Climate Emergency Manchester and any of us can speak for one or three or even five minutes about the petition, the logic behind it, and answer questions
  4. Notify us about any people you know who work for big organisations (public, private, whatever) who can get mention of the petition into email bulletins, newsletters etc. We need to get the petition shared within big employers within the City Council’s boundaries, since people on the email list are, by definition, able to sign, even if they live outside the boundaries of the City .
  5. Attend “sandwich boarding” events with us – we will be standing around at key public locations (city centre and elsewhere) with sandwich boards with a QR code that sends people to details about the petition.  (We will NOT be handing out flyers – the risks of passing on or catching coronavirus are simply too high for this to be responsible).  We will be sandwich boarding until the weather prevents us. It will be fun, promise!
  6. Change your social media profiles to point to the petition, even if only on Monday 7th September,  Wednesday 7th October and  Saturday 7th November (the dates of our next “social media blitzes”
  7. Help us spread the word by making a video explaining why you’ve signed the petition  (or why you would if you could) and send us the raw footage. We will add a title at the front and the end. We want videos a) from people who live in all thirty two wards b) videos in other languages c) videos from people who live in other local authorities.

There is lots else you can do to help. Here’s a longer list of 15….

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