Almost four years after the creation of the Manchester Climate Change “Partnership”, very few of the partner organisations even mention climate change on the home pages of their websites. None refers to the Climate Emergency Declaration, and none mentions the “zero carbon by 2038” goal. Given that Manchester, as a city, has burned 40% of its carbon budget for the entire 21st century in the last three years, this is a gross dereliction of responsibility.
One of the tactics Manchester City Council’s “leaders” have used for a good 30 years is the creation of “partnerships”. These have the handy effects of spreading the blame (“oh, we’d love to help, but we’re not in charge”) while making it possible to claim credit for things the Council either didn’t lift a finger for or even opposed.
On climate change, when they finally got around to having a policy, in 2009 (after activists showed them how to write it, but that’s another story), they set up a “stakeholder steering group” that was supposed to galvanise, well, “stakeholders.” This group was supposed to have elected members, to hold annual conferences etc etc. None of this happened, partly because those tasked with leading it were… well, there are libel laws, so I”ll stop there.
In 2015, with the full uselessness of the Stakeholder Steering Group apparent to even the dullest-witted, the Council replaced it with a Community Interest Company which then changed its name to the “Manchester Climate Change Agency.” Then came boards, youth boards and… at last, the “Partnership” in 2018
If all of this seems confusing, yes, that is the point. This is a feature, not a bug. Rather than have clear, stable groups with clear lines of responsibility, our lords and masters favour a mishmash, a fog of acronyms and blurred lines. Sociologists invent words that mean post-industrial disease…
Still, there are some pretty straightforward ways of asking whether an organisation is fit for purpose. Look at the websites. Now, the partnership itself doesn’t have a website, (the Agency does – check out how busy its events page is!), but its member organisations do. A year ago we looked at those websites and found only the faintest mention of climate change on just a single one of the front pages (1) (that of Electricity Northwest). Has anything changed?
And remember, we are doing this survey one week before the endlessly hyped COP26 starts in Glasgow. So, is there anything specific to Manchester, specific to the climate emergency and the “zero carbon by 2038” goal that the Partnership members all said they liked?
|Manchester City Council||What a joke|
|University of Manchester||So, if you scroll down you get the (doomed)” “Sustainable Development Goals”. Do you get anything concrete, about Manchester and what students and staff can do given that University of Manchester is part of a “Climate Partnership” locally?|
|Manchester Metropolitan University||Scroll down and there is a link to a puff piece about Carbon Literacy and the wonderful Green Summit, plus hydrogen. But nothing permanent about the Partnership….|
|Manchester Cathedral||Nothing. (Website news and events not updated in last 4 months)|
|Manchester City Football Club||Nada. Of course|
|Electricity North West||Nothing on partnership membership, the budget etc. But a press release from August about joining a “Race to Zero” outfit.|
|Manchester Airport||Not even a link to buying indulgences… sorry, “offsets”|
|Bruntwood||If you scroll down far enough, you get some anodyne words about “Sustainability” and a net zero target of … 2030|
|Manchester Housing Providers Partnership||Silence. Nice graphics though! If you happen to know a particular link, you get this (not on the home page)|
In case you’re wondering “isn’t the partnership made up of sixty organisations”? Yes, allegedly it is. That’s what the Council has said, repeatedly. We’re taking the list above from the official page for the partnership on the website of the “Agency.”
In September, a couple of councillors asked at a “Scrutiny” Committee meeting, for the full list. The new director of the Agency, on 60k a year, and appointed from within the Council (the three national searches for someone who wanted the gig having failed) promised it. Then, in October, she… made the same promise again.
If we ever get this list, we will ask a CEM supporter to go through all the organisations’ websites and see if they can spot any sign of
a) the Partnership
b) any actual information about the climate emergency we are supposed to be in.
(1) No, we haven’t delved deep deep into the websites, because that’s not the point. There might be some good information, but if it isn’t prominently linked, what does it matter? If there were – to use a rather tired metaphor – crew members on the Titanic whispering about some half-empty lifeboats on the other side of the ship, we wouldn’t regard them to have been doing their job, would we?