That “we’re leaving carbon behind” campaign- Council admits “not based on scientific fact”: £30k wasted on misleading feel-good tosh

Source – Twitter

You’ve probably seen the adverts on the sides of buses, on billboards and in the Manchester Evening News.
There’s the garish yellow background, people leaving black slime trails as they cycle and walk, and the garish (yes, that adjective again) with the mid-1970s font and the ENTIRELY misleading tag “We’re leaving carbon behind.”

Is the campaign scientifically-based? How much did it cost? How will the Council measure its impact?

These are all questions that you would hope the elected members on the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee would ask. But that committee has not discussed climate change since July (at the same time it was revealed that the city of Manchester has burned through a quarter of its carbon budget for the 21st century in the last two years). And that committee is not discussing climate change at its meeting today.

The answers to the questions are
No, the campaign is not based in science
It cost over 30 thousand pounds
There are no particular success metrics.

How do we know?  Not because we asked nicely. With this Council, you’ll just not get any information proactively (more on that in another post). No, you have to use the Freedom of Information Act.

We asked (among other questions)

What is the evidence base for the claim “we are leaving carbon behind”, since the city’s emissions reduction was 4% last year and there is to my knowledge no accurate data about what has happened since lockdown began (if there is, please provide it)
The campaign focuses on how Manchester is leaving behind its dependence on carbon, following the reduction in carbon emissions during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is based on the city’s ambition to become zero carbon by 2038 [it continues in this vein for several more paragraphs, without saying “no, there’s no evidence-base.”]

Did MFour liaise with any scientists – e.g. at the Tyndall Centre – about whether the claim was indeed supportable? If so, please provide copies of the correspondence
“We have been working with the Manchester Climate Change Partnership to develop a zero carbon campaign for the city. Some of the earlier creative executions were shared with the Tyndall Centre for comment and feedback. This particular iteration was shared internally and with the Climate Change Partnership for feedback. As the ‘leaving carbon behind’ message builds on the positive behaviours that resulted in a decrease in carbon emissions during lockdown and the narrative around a community working together, to move forward to a positive future, not on scientific fact, comment was not sought from scientists” [emphasis added].

What assessment of impact mechanisms have been agreed (please say some have been agreed) and when will a final report be produced about whether the Council got value for money.
“As is the case with all campaigns, we will be evaluating the activity, looking at a variety of KPIs.”

CEM wonders-

  • When will the councillors on the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee actually get hold of climate change as an issue (actually, THE issue), and start to hold the Council’s leadership to account?
  • How does Tyndall Manchester feel about this? When does the damage caused to its reputation by hanging around with shonky shonky spinners outweigh the “REF” benefits?
  • When will we start to see action, as opposed to grossly misleading bullshit?

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