If you ever needed evidence that the declaration of Climate Emergency was a sham…

Since Manchester City Council declared a Climate Emergency in the heady days of July 2019, you could be forgiven for thinking to yourself “OK, so when does the real climate action start?”

If you hadn’t already worked out that the answer was “lol, did you think we really meant it?”, well maybe this will convince you. On Wednesday this week was the latest “Full Council” meeting, where Green Party Councillor Anastasia Wiest (Woodhouse Park) proposed a motion banning “high carbon” adverts in Manchester – a very similar goal to the Badverts campaign we ran in 2023.

You’ll be shocked – SHOCKED – to learn that the Labour led council chose this moment to clutch its pearls and declare that it would be “irresponsible to pass this motion without a financial impact assessment”.

Which is pretty fucking rich, given the ludicrous cost overruns amounting to millions of pounds on the “Avivia Studios” (formerly Factory International) and Tower of Light district heating scheme (which, surprise surprise, won’t even help reduce the city’s carbon emissions, given that it burns fucking fossil methane).

There seems to be an assumption that chucking lots of money at building big buildings and other infrastructure will always pay off, but that making some fairly minor restrictions about what can be advertised on the 34 or so City council controlled advertising sites – apparently that is just going too far.

What’s behind this reluctance? Could it be that the motion was proposed by an opposition Councillor, and hence had to be opposed at all costs in order to demonstrate how complete Labour’s control of the Manchester local government political landscape is? Or simply that any idea of “buying less” or “doing less” is anathema to a political project that has always been (and continues to be) about endless inward investment, no matter the cost to the city, its inhabitants or the world.

As Cllr Wiest said, the advertising contract is up for renewal in 2025, so now would be exactly the time to be making any potential bidders aware of the parameters the Council would be setting. If MCC really wanted, they could make a PR coup of explicitly excluding high carbon advertising from their new contract, and issue some breathless press releases about how this is a world first from a leader in climate action. Maybe this is an issue for the Overview and Scrutiny Ethical Procurement and Contract Management Sub Group that previously looked at small format advertising in Feb 2019.

Oh wait, that was disbanded after 3 meetings.

Instead we see petty partisan politics taking priority over getting something, anything done. Instead, we see Cllr Pat Karney, dressed in a rubber chicken hood…

…calling on the Prime Minister to call a general election, as if that will make any difference to anything. And all the while, Manchester’s carbon budget goes up in smoke, while the inane “In Our Nature” campaign makes it seem like repairing jumpers, picking litter and planting some vegetables are a proportionate* response to the predicament we find ourselves in. We can all see what this Labour Group’s priorities are, and it’s not about taking some, indeed any sort of action within their powers on climate.

*NB: CEM completely endorses local food production, repairing items to make them last as long as possible, and all attempts to minimise how much rubbish ends up in places it shouldn’t. But we are also absolutely clear that in and of themselves, none of these things achieves anything like the kinds of emissions reductions necessary. They are akin to taking an aspirin when one is given a diagnosis of serious disease. It might make you feel better, but it isn’t doing anything to address the cause.


2 thoughts on “If you ever needed evidence that the declaration of Climate Emergency was a sham…”

  1. I was in the Visitors’ Gallery last week for the Full Council meeting. Full disclosure up front – I am member of the Green Party. But I still say that Anastasia did a really thorough and good job of researching this motion, and bringing it to the council meeting.

    If you would like to make your own mind up about the exchange, it’s 39 min in on the Vimeo recording of the meeting https://vimeo.com/showcase/7723560/video/918299485

    Personally, I had to leave the gallery directly after this motion was sunk, and made my way to the tram stop in St Peter’s Square. There, gazing at the Town Hall (which I love, it’s where I got married) I burst into tears of total fury, frustration and despair.

    As Anastasia said, we need systemic change, not Tracy Rawlins giving out the old Richard Leese line of “not wanting to stop hard working people going on their holidays”. And there’s the one of the rubs – the gargantuan elephant still marauding its way round the corridors of the Town Hall – Manchester Airport, and the fact that the Council is a major share holder in Manchester Airport Group.

    I left it until the next day to write to my Didsbury East councillors to object to what happened over the motion. The fact that no councillor had the guts to stand up and say anything in support of the ideas behind the motion, let alone abstain or (and let’s clutch those pearls again) actually vote in favour of an opposition motion. Far better that the world burns …

    If you would like to write to your councillors, (about this or anything else) Write to Them https://www.writetothem.com/?gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-_mvBhDwARIsAA-Q0Q6kJqwpDab9yc03rfUTR5uYxG3SP2c-R8UwPBk9FLd3p8nZip_L8Q0aAsG0EALw_wcB
    is a very easy way of getting int ouch with all 3 at once.

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