Today the Health and Wellbeing Board meets, and for the second time in three years, they’ll discuss… climate change. The meeting is at 10am, and is live streamed here.
CEM hasn’t usually devoted any of its limited time and energy to the HWB, but that will probably change (if you want to get involved in CEM’s work, we’d love to have you – firstname.lastname@example.org)
The reason we’re writing this is because the report is by the notorious Climate Change “Agency”, a fig-leaf/stabvest outfit the Council set up in 2015 to replace an even more useless fig-leaf/stabvest called the Stakeholder Steering Group.
Basically, what is happening today (spoilers) is that the Agency wants a lend of the HWB’s credibility, and is setting up an advisory board for them to frolic on. Because health impacts of climate change and air pollution is such a NEW issue, you see. We will have to study it for a long time before we do anything.
You can read the report here.
Here are some comments,
The summary says
“The purpose of the report is to highlight the increasing evidence of a strong correlation between climate vulnerability and health inequalities, to provide an update on the refresh of the city’s Climate Change Framework (Framework 2.0) and to seek guidance on the best way to bring expert advice on Health & Wellbeing into the Framework refresh, both in the short and longer term”
Yes, but this framing suggests there hasn’t been cause to be alarmed, to ACT, for DECADES. We have known about the threats for decades, and Manchester City Council has sat on its hands, making empty promises everyone knows it won’t keep, rather than do anything. Why should we believe you, trust your competence, now?
For example, in 2016 activists tried to get the Health Scrutiny Committee of Manchester City Council to look at the health impacts of climate change. The Committee refused to do so. Tried again in 2017. Still nope. Who was chair of that committee then? Why, step forward new Council leader Bev Craig!
The recommendations are good. But incomplete
- Ask Manchester City Council to engage with not just with experts (as per point 2.) but llso citizens about what should be done, rather than persist in top-down glossy-documentism… which hasn’t worked.
Into the report, the usual blah blah blah. But at least they quote the UK Health Expert Advisory Group
Direct impacts on health of climate change are created by changing exposure to heat and cold, increased exposure to UV radiation, air pollution, pollen, emerging infections, flooding and associated water-borne diseases, and the impacts of extreme weather events such as storms and floods, notably on mental health. Indirect impacts will also occur as a result of climate change’s impacts on the livelihoods of individuals, on prices for food, water and domestic energy; on utilities and supply chains that are at risk from extreme weather events, on global security – and on the increasingly complex interactions between these factors
No mention of the relentless building of private car infrastructure, or the plan to have a car park next to a school. Or failure to act on cycling during the lockdown… or… or (the list is endless).
Thanks to them citing a World Health Organisation report they can write
All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. Children, in particular children living in poorer communities, are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences. The health effects are also expected to be more severe for elderly people and people with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions.
YES. WE. HAVE. KNOWN. THIS. FOR. DECADES. WHAT IS. THE. MATTER. WITH. YOU. PEOPLE?
And on it goes. What is the council going to do?
3.4 “The Agency and Partnership are working with a range of experts on Framework 2.0 to update the case for change and to set targets for action wherever possible”
- “Update the case for change” – this implies someone still needs convincing. Who is this moron, and can’t we just sack them? Or do they have photos of powerful councillors doing dodgy things?
- Set targets “wherever possible” – spot the weasel words, spot the excuses for a worthless Framework 2.0 being quietly but diligently laid down.
Saints preserve us (because the local authority ain’t going to).
And what does the Agency want? Why, it wants a lend of the credibility of the Health and Wellbeing Board. It wants more meetings.
Will these meetings be open to the public? If not, why not?
Can people be seconded to be on the advisory group? If so, how?
We will ask these questions, and report back. Health is, finally, becoming tied to the climate issue, no thanks to the bureaucrats and councillors who have sat on their hands for years (decades). It’s happening because a) activists and experts and b) the deteriorating conditions on planet earth that will soon start to affect the only people that Rich White People care about (hint, it ain’t poor people of colour).