All filler, no chiller: ECC scrutiny committee gets lost in the weeds discussing Climate Change Action Plan Quarterly Progress Report

Thursday’s quarterly update on the Climate Change Action Plan did its job perfectly*

Headline news is that from 2018/19 Manchester City Council (MCC) has remained within their emissions budget, with 39% of the annual budget emitted between April and September 2021.

These emissions relate to council buildings, streetlights, waste collection and other operational vehicles and business travel.

Some of the highlights in the report include the project to replace the city’s streetlights with LEDs (concluded in December 2020), business travel emissions lower than 2019 but growing since 2020 and no new electric vehicles (EVs) in the councils fleet this quarter due to a global shortage of components.

HM Treasury is also causing headaches for the council’s projects under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, concluding that some of the activities in MCC’s project call for full VAT at 20%, instead of the 5% they’d planned.

*This quarterly report did its job perfectly. It supplied the minutiae of the council’s progress on their carbon budget and blurred the status of any actions on the city’s wider budget – where we’re falling further and further behind. Any avid follower of these quarterly reports will note this is a recurring theme.

I fear the councillors in attendance on Thursday were in a similar mood, dedicating 15 minutes scrutiny to the report.

Cllr Holt (Chorlton) asked reports to better reflect questions previously asked at scrutiny committees, to save the time wasted by councillors asking the same question twice. I for one am shocked anyone has had to do this.

What about the airport? What about the airport? What about the airport?

Cllr Wright (Hulme) asked why carbon literacy training still hasn’t been completed for all council members and staff. She was promised that all remaining councillors have been instructed to attend training on the 2nd of February, and staff training remains “a priority”. Yes, your call is very important to us.

Credit to Cllr Foley (Didsbury East) for doing her best to inject some sense of urgency into the proceedings, noting how the council really must set some carbon emissions targets next to the reams of projects and actions that are currently filed under “too difficult”.

Perhaps we can all be reassured that next month’s agenda for environmental scrutiny is the Manchester Climate Change Framework and Implementation Plan 2.0. This has long been promised as the plan that will make everything trackable.

I’m ‘assured’. How about you?

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