Clarification of the first commitment for City Council candidates to improve climate action

The first commitment in our three commitments reads as follows:

Every time a Council officer or elected member mentions the objective of the City being “zero carbon by 2038”, they should in the same sentence mention the progress against the city’s emissions budget

Two candidates have queried this wording.  We told them that “in the same sentence or in the next sentence” would be fine.

The reason we specified the same sentence is because we fear situations where the science-based target is mentioned, is then followed by a long list of eye-catching but basically irrelevant factoids (electric bin lorries this, tree planting that) and then – when the speaker is sure that the audience has nodded off, they casually and quietly mention that the carbon budget has been blown.  We seek to forestall this tactic. We want to encourage councillors and elected officials to square with the public about the scale of the challenge. However, on reflection we should have specified “the same or the next sentence”, because this achieves the aim too.

There is also some concern about what would count as the latest information.  This does not need to be very complicated. Since July 2020 it has been clear that Manchester as a city is nowhere near achieving its target. It has used a quarter of its carbon budget for the entire 21st century in the last two years alone.  The figures for the last 12 months will be released in July, but won’t be much better. In all likelihood the city will have burnt through around a third of its carbon budget for the 21st century in 3 years.  THIS is the level of detail that’s needed, nothing more.  But so often, we have seen that the emissions profile of the City Council itself is invoked, even though that is only 2% of the city’s total, and a very large proportion of the reductions there have come from national grid decarbonisation, the selling off of buildings and the reduction in council staff.

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