Commonwealth Games clicktivism- getting BP out of sponsoring sports ‘n’ culture #climate

http://campaigns.350.org/petitions/no-more-foul-play-no-more-bp-greenwash-at-the-commonwealth-games-1
We, the undersigned, believe that we should enjoy sport, the arts and culture without oil sponsorship. For a small price, BP and other oil companies sponsor events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in order to appear generous, socially responsible and “green” – when nothing could be further from the truth! Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face – it’s time to stop the foul play and expose BP’s greenwash. We call on you to end your relationship with BP after these games and refuse them the role of ‘corporate partners’ for all future events.

@artnotoil
#sportnotoil

Why is this important?

BP is an official partner of this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games. For a small contribution, BP paint themselves as generous, socially responsible and “green” – when nothing could be further from the truth.

- BP will ‘donate a tree’ for each participant in its carbon offsetting scheme, but the amount of CO2 they will absorb is almost nothing when compared to BP’s emissions worldwide.

- BP have set up a ‘Young Leaders’ scheme but it is young people who will have to deal with their legacy of runaway climate change and oil spills.

- The US has brought in sanctions against the Russian-owned oil company, Rosneft, but BP have clung to its 19.75% share in the company.

- BP have nestled its brand alongside our elite athletes in order to keep their toxic legacy in the Gulf of Mexico and attempts to drill in the Arctic out of people’s minds.

It’s time to stop the greenwash and deny BP the role of ‘corporate partner’ at all future sporting events!

Posted in clicktivism | Leave a comment

#Manchester scrutiny chairs and carbon literacy – an interesting reply #climate

Manchester City Council has six scrutiny committees that are supposed to oversee the work of the Council bosses (elected councillors in the “Executive” and also the bureaucracy).
Yesterday an email was sent to the chairs of the six scrutiny committees, asking whether they had completed their “carbon literacy” training. (For one councillor’s very positive opinion, see here).

greenjoanneSo far, two have replied. Chair of the Economy Scrutiny Committee, Joanne Green has said “I haven’t yet, I intend to, not yet fixed in diary.”

Meanwhile, the chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee, Eddy Newman, has sent a longer reply, which is published below in full.
newmaneddyThe replies of the four remaining Scrutiny Committee chairs will be given when received.

Dear Mr Hudson

Like many residents of Manchester, I too care about climate change and support the Council’s policies on this. I have extensive experience of public representation and – as a lay person – I am reasonably familiar with the causes and effects of climate change and the need for individual, local, national, European and international action.

I don’t believe that whether or not an individual has completed a particular course of carbon literacy training is an accurate measure of their knowledge – and in particular their commitment – to tackling climate change. For instance, a “climate change denier” could complete this course, and still hold reactionary views resulting in opposing or just paying lip service to tackling climate change.

However, I often take up training opportunities that are available to councillors, and I will be completing Manchester’s carbon literacy training course over the next few months.

If you share my answer, please do me the courtesy of sharing my answer in full.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Eddy Newman

Labour Member for Woodhouse Park;
Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee;
Manchester City Council

MCFly says: Cllr Newman’s reply is welcome. It raised some important issues.
Carbon literacy should be seen as a minimum, not a maximum.
It’s also important to acknowledge that even when people have “all the information” they may well choose to interpret it differently than the givers of the information would intend/hope.
It’s ESPECIALLY important to focus on action rather than knowledge. So, with a bit of luck and some prompting, we may see the health implications of climate change (heatwaves, floods, etc) and the psychological implications on the Health Scrutiny Committee’s “forward plan sooner rather than later.

UPDATE 25/07/2014: Cllr Julie Reid, chair of Young People and Children’s Scrutiny Committee, has said written “Send me dates and times and I will endeavour to complete the Carbon Literacy status.”

Posted in Manchester City Council | 1 Comment

#Manchester, #climate and all that jazz (festival)

Manchester City Council loves to sell the city as a Global Destination for Sport and Culture.  It’s part of the “offer”, to attract inward investment.(1)  That’s great, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the imperative to become a genuinely low-carbon city with a genuinely low-carbon culture.

jazzfestivalSome of you have doubtless seen the Council’s logo on the posters  for the Manchester Jazz Festival.  So I thought, in the context of the Council being oh-so-very open about all things climate, I’d ask some basic questions.  And to do this, I’m using the Freedom of Information Act, since nothing else seems to work…. (2)

I’ve emailed informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am requesting the following information

a) Details of any financial support given to Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 by Manchester City Council  (http://www.manchesterjazz.com/)

b) Details of other forms of support given by the Council to Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 (for example – free or below-commercial rate use of venues or other non-financial support)

c) A copy of any agreements between the City Council and the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 organisers that pertain to environmental impacts of the festival, including recycling and reduction of carbon emissions.

d) A copy of any assessments/requests by Manchester City Council especially with regards to the measures undertaken to minimise the “carbon footprint” of the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 event. Including not only the direct carbon emissions from heating and lighting,  but also the air and road travel of performers at the festival.

Please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Marc Hudson

[address]

 

Footnotes

(1) If you’re interested in the political theory behind all this, of the “Sustainability Fix” and so on – here’s a video of some fat hairy guy.

(2) And your opportunities to get good at FoIAs will come soon. Watch this space!

UPDATE: Got this back today.

Request for Information – Reference No: CEX/9MBEDH

Thank you for your request for information received by Manchester City
Council on 24th July 2014.

Please note that it may take up to 20 working days (approximately 4 weeks)
for the Council to consider your request and to provide a formal response.

20 working days will take us up to Thursday 21st August or thereabouts…  Whenever you do a FoIA and get one of these emails, it helps to put a reminder to yourself in your diary (or online calendar…)

Posted in Democratic deficit, Low Carbon Culture, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

#Manchester councillors denied information about council’s #climate performance. As are citizens.

Manchester City Council will NOT be giving any detailed account about its climate change performance over the last year, despite repeated requests.

In July 2013 the “Annual Carbon Reduction Plan” was brought to the “Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee”  (this of the 6 scrutiny committees, made up of “back-bench” councillors, that are supposed to keep tabs on what the bureaucrats and elite councillors are up to.)  The spin was that there had been a 7% reduction in emissions in the previous year. The grubby reality, admitted after intense questioning, was that emissions had gone UP by 1.8%.

The 2013-4 plan listed a long series of actions that were scheduled for the coming year.  (1)  We – councillors and citizens of Manchester alike – are now not going to be able to easily find out which (if any) of these actions has been completed in the last year because, according to a letter sent to Manchester Climate Monthly, the Council doesn’t “have data or information to report against each element of the plan.

The actions – which include items such as energy efficiency improvements in the Art Gallery, Leisure centre improvements and the like – are the sort of detailed steps that are needed not just to reduce carbon emissions, but also to create the often-talked about “low carbon culture.”  The fact that elected councillors, who last year called for quarterly progess reports, will not be able to find out what has and hasn’t been achieved in the last 12 months, reduces the existing scrutiny process to a comical farce.

The Council, in a very brief and initially buried report, claimed a seven percent reduction in its carbon emissions.  That brief report ignored the fact that the long-touted goal of a 20% reduction by 2014 had been missed. More seriously, it conceded that the very mild winter, and “building rationalisation” (i.e. the sell-off of surplus buildings) were responsible or the reduction in emissions.

What you can do:

You can write to Councillor Chappell explaining that this is not how an open and transparent Council behaves.  Her email is cllr.k.chappell@manchester.gov.uk    If you live within Manchester, please cc in your three ward councillors (you can find them via this page on council’s website).

You can contact Manchester Climate Monthly (mcmonthly@gmail.com) about further steps to take (here’s a chance for you to learn how to use the Freedom of Information Act!

Please “save the date” – Tuesday 26th August, 7pm. There’s a meeting at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St in the City Centre

 

Below is the full text of the letter received by Manchester Climate Monthly from the Executive Member for the Environment Kate Chappell.  Perhaps she can give a further account on her blog, which she has repeatedly promised to set up.

Hi Marc,

I’ve spoken to Basil and the officers involved.

Since adopting the new 3-Year Carbon Reduction Plan in February of this year, our intention has been to report on progress annually in March of each year. This is a change from the reporting cycle for previous 1-Year Plans where we provided annual reports in July.

Some data which is relevant to monitoring the Plan doesn’t get released until June of the following year so our intention is to issue this as soon as it becomes available. This was the content of the Report for Information at last Neighbourhoods Scrutiny.

As we are four months into a twelve month reporting cycle, we don’t have data or information to report against each element of the plan. We have set this up so it will be available and reported on in March 2015.

In order to provide some more detail, however, we have agreed with Cllr Curley that we extend the existing report to highlight to the committee any elements of the plan which we can already anticipate we may have problems with by year-end, and similarly those where progress has exceeded our expectation.

Hope this helps,
 

 

Footnotes

(1) In all previous years the “Annual Carbon Reduction Plan” had then gone from the Scrutiny Committee to the Executive.  Last year – with no explanation - this did not happen.

Posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council | 1 Comment

Book Review: “Green Capitalism: Why it can’t work”

Green Capitalism: Why it can’t work.
Daniel Tanuro
Merlin Press/ Resistance Books, 2013

I approached this book with some scepticism. It wasn’t that I was unsympathetic to the arguments I expected to find in it. I do regard myself as a Marxist, on who thinks that to understand the systems (political, economic, cultural, social, family, psychological) that shape our lives, it is necessary to understand the ‘deep processes’, the often hidden ways in which some groups dominate others in the control and struggle for resources (historical materialism). But there is a strong tendency in organised Marxism to adopt a ‘maximalist’ line, one that suggests that nothing can be done, improved, sorted out, until the workers triumph and overthrow the rule of Capital. This is, apart from being inaccurate (significant victories over Capital such as the establishment of the NHS, the Scandinavian welfare states, Kerala’s superior human development compared to neighbouring Indian states, the result of social movements with reformist politicians have shown how another world is possible), a counsel of despair, and indeed often, paradoxically, of quietism. This book has been distributed by Socialist Resistance, a group that now describes itself as eco-socialist, whose lineage goes back to the International Marxist Group, Ernest Mandel and Trotsky’s Fourth International. Indeed they still think it necessary and helpful to describe themselves as the British section of the Fourth International. However, like the old IMG they do represent the more human, thoughtful end of the Trotskyist tradition.

But on reading the book I was favourably impressed. Tanuro caries out a careful examination of capitalism and its destructive tendencies and of attempts to ameliorate the impact of continual capital accumulation (a.k.a economic growth) on, for example greenhouse gas emissions, using its own tools, such as the creation a market in carbon emissions. He examines carefully forensically the huge problems of such trading schemes, with their inadequate pricing, and effective licence to emit. He also makes it clear how government targets for emission reduction are nowhere near enough to prevent harmful climate change, even if schemes like the European Emissions Trading Scheme were actually to work. He also criticises the traditional left its general lack of concern about the environment and its destruction: “At best it ignores the problem.. at best it is on the defensive”.

He then considers some alternative approaches, ecological economist Herman Daly’s idea of the Steady State Economy and the European degrowth movement, particularly associated with French economist Serge Latouche.

My own criticisms of Daly’s approach are somewhat similar: most treatments of the Steady State economy take the view that it would be consistent with some form of capitalism (British economist Tim Jackson for example suggests this, but he uses an inadequate definition of capitalism as the market economy). Daly also fails to make it clear that our current level of economic activity is far too high: it needs to decrease so we (humans in the aggregate, though levels of consumption differ radically) live within the capacity of the earth to support us.

His treatment of Latouche is also unsympathetic but in this case I don’t think he has read him very thoroughly. For Latouche ‘degrowth’ is a mater of changing the conversation, from growth and development to other goals. He is attempting to move the debate, the narrative, from one dominated by economic concepts to one where human and ecological values take their place. In this he is close to socialist thinkers like Raymond Williams and the ‘post-Marxists’, who he discusses, Cormelius Castoriadis (Paul Cardan) and André Gorz, a key thinker in the movement for a shorter working week. All of these theorists had in common the critique of the ‘productivism’ that the traditional left (though arguably not Marx) share with capital’s ideologues. Furthermore Latouche has a lot in common with the decolonial thinkers from the global South (such as R Grosfoguel, S Amin, V Shiva, E Gudynas, A Acosta, A Escobar, E Dussel, and A Quijano) who criticise the very idea of ‘development’ as a linear, Eurocentric concept tied to that modernity whose underside is the global extraction of wealth from South to North (a.k.a. West) and the myriad tricks of defamation, devaluation, obfuscation that go with it. But despite including a quote from Mandel that makes it clear that material ‘progress’ can be harmful, Tanuro objects to what he sees as a conflation of capitalism ad development. Perhaps we’d agree with the slogan of environmentalist Bolivians though, that “another development is possible’, at which point we might search for a better term.

Tanuro ends with a call for ecosocialism, but for a Marxist the glaring gap is of a convincing praxis that could conceivably bring this about.

So, if we accept that (most of) the dominant approaches to reforming the economic and social system are unworkable or utopian, then how do we move forward without falling into the maximalist “after the revolution we’ll see” that Tanuro himself ridicules? For me at least part of the answer lies in some of the more innovative concepts from socialist praxis:

Trotsky’s notion of transitional demands is to mobilise around those reforms that can be reasonably campaigned for, that the system might agree to, but which through the failure to realise them in reality, expose its true nature. The shorter working week and increased pre-distributive equality are good contemporary examples.

Gramsci’s concepts of prefigurative struggle, war of position, hegemony and counter-hegemony, little understood by swathes of the left, connect with both the alternative lifestyles movements and the hard-nosed struggles against neoliberalism, suggesting the basis for the kind of anti-capitalist, ecologically literate alliance that we perhaps se emerging in Spain, Greece and parts of Latin America.

Gorz’s concept of revolutionary reforms (like Gramscian prefiguration) similarly bridges the day to day creation of an alternative reality within the current system with the revolutionary reconstruction of society, economy, culture, politics – and our relations with nature.

But there again, perhaps this is all a conceit – the system will crash and what we think might be seeds of a new society may be no more than lifeboats in a storm of unprecedented destruction.

Mark H Burton

[Mark Burton is part of the Steady State Manchester group, but is writing here in a personal capacity]

Posted in Book Review | 2 Comments

Not #Manchester-based; Petition to save the Arctic — Greenpeace versus Lego (yes, Lego!)

Hi,

LEGO are rattled. First our video was removed from Youtube. Hours later, it was put back after thousands of us voiced our outcry!

But LEGO are still refusing to meet us. So in 4 days, undercover LEGO agents will go to their Head Office in Slough to deliver every single name on the petition asking them to dump Shell.

You’ve already signed along with 103,239 potential LEGO customers – if each of us now share the petition with one more person we can double that number before we visit LEGO.

The bigger number they see, the more worried they’ll be about future sales.
4 days to go – can you forward this email to some friends? They can sign here:
https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/lego-petition

LEGO has very senior managers based in the UK. They care deeply about UK sales figures and the reputation of their brand. Right now, that reputation is being damaged by their refusal to reconsider their partnership with Shell.

In 4 days, Greenpeace volunteers will show up at their office in front of LEGO’s staff and the public with all the names of people who want them to dump Shell.

It might just be the nudge the Chief Executive needs to pick up the phone to the CEO in Denmark, and tell him it’s time to end their misguided deal with Shell.

So let’s make sure that number is huge. Share this email with your friends. 
https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/lego-petition

When we work together we get results. From getting Jewsons to drop Amazon timber, to confronting Statoil near Bear Island, bit by bit we’re making companies behave responsibly. Together we can get LEGO to come over to the good side, too.

Can you ask more people to join in and sign here?
https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/lego-petition

Posted in Arctic, clicktivism, International | Leave a comment

Video: #Manchester City Council and its scrutiny system. A 7th committee is needed… #climate #democracy

Here’s a rough and ready short film about the scrutiny process of Manchester City Council and the need for a 7th – environmental -  scrutiny committee.

Thanks to all the people who gave constructive feedback on the earlier draft. I followed it all scrupulously, so if this film doesn’t win Oscars, it’s your fault.

There will be more of these films in the coming weeks.

Two more things

a) If you haven’t already, please find out if your councillors are carbon literate. If you don’t live in Manchester City Council’s patch, please forward the link on to people who do, and ask them to find out if their councillors are carbon literate.

b) Save the date: Tuesday 26th August, 7pm, Friends Meeting House.

Posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council, youtubes | Leave a comment