500 online signatures interview: Emily Taylor Kent, University of #Manchester student

Each “round number” milestone is going to be celebrated with an interview with someone who has signed the petition for a seventh scrutiny committee.  Well, a couple of days ago we hit 500 online (we’re now at 571, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear – reddit? something else?). In any case, here’s an interview with Emily, who has joined the Petition Taskforce, which is a group of people trying to get the rest of the signatures…  If you want to get involved, email CEM on contact@climateemergencymanchester.net
Who are you, what do you do, why did you sign the petition?
I’m Emily Taylor Kent and I’m an undergraduate Geography student at the University of Manchester.
I’m always keen to add my name to petitions that are seeking change I’d also love to see, and climate change is an issue I’m particularly tuned into. I was also keen to back the petition because the idea of having a seventh scrutiny committee for the climate and the environment sounded like it would make some concrete change and hopefully actually hold the council accountable in following their plans.
Have you tried to get other folks to sign yet? If so, how, and how did that go?
Yes, I haven’t spoken to many people about it in person but when I have, they’ve been very receptive. Other than that, I’ve shared it on social media and on a big group chat of course mates – it feels a bit like yelling into the void but hopefully it’s reaching some people.
What suggestions do you have for those trying to get more people to sign the petition?
To share it even if it feels like nobody is listening, it’s still getting the message out there. I also think sharing with a personal message is good, when you show you care about something, I think it encourages other people to start caring about it as well.
If Manchester City Council DOES set up a permanent ‘Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee’ what should its first actions afterwards be?
I think it needs to be really strict about deadlines and targets. At the moment it’s far too easy for those in positions of power to keep postponing climate action and putting it aside to deal with other important issues, especially right now with Covid-19. Despite immense public pressure and high awareness, it’s still easy to forget that the clock is ticking and that the longer we do nothing the worse the climate crisis will get. Therefore, I think the committee should check that the council is working according to plan and, for example, that emissions are being reduced by the set amount they should be each year.
At the same time, I recognise that this will be no easy task. I think an important role of the scrutiny committee could be to identify where the council is struggling to meet targets and why so that specific solutions can be developed. Maybe the scrutiny committee will be able to see that the right decisions haven’t been made by the council or identify a larger systemic issue that is preventing a policy working efficiently.
How do you think citizens could/should act to make sure that such a declaration is followed up with actual actions? What skills and knowledge are needed for that?​
I think that citizens need to try and be aware of what the council is actually doing to tackle climate change and that it matches up with what they’ve said they’ll do.
The reports published by CEM are a great example of this.
In terms of skills and knowledge I think we need to grow and expand local climate networks so that there can be a stronger collective front. This would allow more knowledge sharing, better organisation and boost morale. I also think there is a lack of awareness of how the council works, which people can learn about as adults, but I would love to see more teaching of politics in schools.
Anything else you’d like to say
Go sign the petition if you haven’t already!

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