We’re a quarter of the way to the 2020 time limit for the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan. The plan, which is for all of Manchester, not just the City Council, was endorsed in November 2009 and speaks of 2020 as its target date. The headline goals are “to reduce the city of Manchester’s emissions of C02 by 41% by 2020, from 2005 levels” and “to engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low-carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city.”
A few fun facts;
The target for endorsements of that plan was 1000.
After two and a half years, the number of endorsers stands at … roughly 230 (including organisations that no longer exist).
Of those 230 or so endorsers the number that have actually produced their own Implementation Plan stands at… 2. (Manchester City Council and its offshoot Northwards Housing.)
The official Manchesterclimate.com website has not had a new blog post up since … January. The “Stakeholder” Steering Group meets in private, and does not publish its minutes.
The City Council’s “Environmental Advisory Panel” has had two meetings all year (in March they said the next would be in early May), and a recent attempt to gather suggestions for a ‘refresh’ of that was somewhat farcical.
The City Council’s “Environmental Strategy Programme Board” does not allow observers, and does not publish its minutes (we used the Freedom of Information Act to extract some.)
This is how democracy, transparency, urgency and participation are done around climate change in Manchester at present. And of course, the Conservative government and its austerity agenda is entirely to blame.
Last night we posted an invitation from the aforementioned “Steering Group” for people to attend a series of workshops about five elements of the Climate Change Action Plan. Those are three-hour workshops, several held entirely in work hours, in early August. There is no mention of any other way of being actively involved in the conversation around these workshops. We strongly suspect that people who attended the March 2012 “annual” stakeholder conference (there wasn’t one in 2011) will be reluctant to spend more time in such meetings. Many many people voted with their feet at that meeting, leaving during or after the shambolic workshops. Returns of feedback were very low (and that feedback has not been made public)
Since our phone calls with the relevant people tend to be somewhat fraught (thanks to a tendency to nervous laughter while asking direct questions), we’re posting the following blogpost instead. The questions are pretty simple and shouldn’t take long to answer. We have limited ourselves to five. If you, gentle reader, have other questions, why not ask them yourselves?
1) Are the meetings of the Steering Group open to the public, or is the limit of allowed engagement sending in tweets during meetings, as per the implication of a recent MACF Linked-in message?
2) When will new blog posts start to appear on the manchesterclimate.com site – it has now been almost 6 months since the last one appeared?
3) These workshops in August, when many people are on holiday, and other people are work – are there plans for how to gather the opinions of people who can’t make it to them? We’re told that there are these new-fangled things called “online surveys”, for example.
4) Will you be running any workshops/gathering ideas to help you figure out how goal two of the Climate Change Action Plan - “to engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low-carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city” - can be achieved? (If not, don’t worry – steadystatemanchester.net will be, and we will share what we learn with everyone.)
5) Will this “refresh” of the Climate Change Action Plan make acknowledgement of the awkward fact that if indeed economic growth does return (thanks to the incantations of the relevant witch doctors) it will be anemic and involve tipping even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (points will be deducted for the invocation of “new technologies”, “efficiencies” etc. Points will be awarded for acknowledgement of Jevons Paradox etc).
We know everyone is dead busy. No rush. If one question gets answered each day, then it will all be done and dusted in a week.