Today the group formerly known as “Climate Emergency Manchester” is pivoting from the local council-facing action to take on a new challenge – forcing world leaders to get their acts together.
The unexpected change comes only a day after the group won a significant, albeit small, concession from Manchester City Council, with the creation of an Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee. This was something the group had campaigned for vigorously (some would say vehemently) for well over a year.
Core group member Chloe Jeffries, who had won the grudging respect of several senior Councillors for her speech at Resources and Governance Scrutiny in February, explained that she had a blinding epiphany. “It was just one minute after midnight. I have a Dutch friend, Frankie Gee – she had sent me some wonderful-tasting chocolate brownies from Amsterdam. And I started having these very clear and colourful insights into the future. We were all up in Glasgow at the Climate Conference in November. I saw us standing outside a convention centre, with placards, shouting “system change not climate change.” And then Presidents Erdogan, Morrison and Bolsinaro turned up. We had a long discussion with them and then they said that we’d convinced them and that they would stop burning down the Amazon and exporting coal and stuff.”
Jeffries continued “Naturally I called an emergency meeting of the important members of the core group. Calum was up because he’s a total man of leisure always, and especially since, well, the P45. And Marion was easy – she has chronic insomnia. Adam and Robbie had to be half-drowned in coffee by their lover and wife respectively. I got a TaskRabbit guy to deliver some of the great Dutch brownies around to everyone’s houses – we all live in Chorlton anyway, so that was cheap enough.”
“Anyway, the good news is that we agreed to switch focus. The re-branding is a pain, I know, but we’re thinking “Climate Rebels and Placards” or something like that. We’re all sorry for anyone who took our rhetoric about “local capacity building” seriously, and especially all those people who spent countless hours watching scrutiny committee meetings and blogging about them. But we’ve all realised that stuff just doesn’t actually matter. And it is hard to do and frankly a bit boring.”
The news of CEM’s u-turn was greeted with a mixture of disbelief and sadness by members of Manchester’s climate policy network.
Esme Ward, director of Manchester Museum, who had signed CEM’s open letter calling for the strongest possible scrutiny, was philosophical. “As a Museum we know that sometimes things that have been around for a while need to be repatriated. We know one of the core group is from the north, and another from the distant South. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment , Transport and Planning Angeliki Stogia said that she was surprised and disappointed. “Speaking on behalf of the Council, and especially the climate change agency and the climate change partnership we’re very very sad to see Climate Emergency Manchester stop doing what they’re doing. They were a consistently constructive voice, one we’ve listened to very carefully. They are exactly the kind of “critical friend” we as a Council need as we try to recover from the carbon budget blow out. As everyone knows, thanks to our vigorous comms strategy, the city has burnt through a quarter of its science-based carbon budget for the 21st century in the last two years. It’s a shame that they’re willing to be distracted by what I consider to be false promises and distractions. You’d have thought that their time in Manchester would have inured them to that”
Richard Leese, leader the council since 1896, concurred with his outgoing Exec for Environment, tweeting “Once upon a time I said @ClimateEmergMcr was just Marc Hudson, But the Council would not have developed the new climate scrutiny committee without CEM. Good luck in Glasgow!”
Responding to a widely circulated-rumour that he had contacted personally the Tactical Aid Unit of Police Scotland with a detailed physical description of Marc Hudson and a photoshopped image of him wearing an “Poileas Alba? Bite ma bawsack ye radge wee shite” t-shirt, Mr Leese said such claims could not be proven and were “fake news.”
In keeping with its new aims, the Climate Emergency Manchester Twitter feed will now be devoted to extremely long detailed accounts of the last 30 years of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, and offers of discount coach tickets to points north.