Fossil-Free Greater Manchester – who, what, why, when…

Tonight there’s a meeting at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, on the vital topic of “What Next for Climate Action in Manchester?”  Come for 7pm to mingle, panel discussion starts at 7.30pm.

If all the active groups in Manchester were on the panel the meeting would become rather unwieldy. So, other groups that have been active have been asked to give a “blurb”.  Here’s the only one received so far, from Fossil-free Greater Manchester, which has a meeting next Thursday, 30th May, at the Greenfish Resource Centre, Oldham St.

1.       When was your group founded?  What does it do/how does it do  it?
ffgmscreengrabFossil Free Greater Manchester came together as a sub-group of  Manchester Friends of the Earth in 2015 to demand that the Greater  Manchester Pension Fund divests its holdings in the fossil fuel  industry. We campaign on this in various ways, such as lobbying the  Fund, meetings with councillors and other stakeholders, creative public  actions, awareness raising events and media engagement. We meet every other Monday to share updates on our efforts, plan next actions and pool  ideas. Our website is http://fossilfreegm.org.uk/

2.       What have been the group’s major successes and failures over  the last year or so?
We have made some progress since we started: The Pension Fund has recognised that climate change is a material risk  and committed to eventual decarbonisation of its investment portfolio,  announcing the first steps by shifting 10% of its holdings to a “low  carbon fund”.

They have sold their shares in Schlumberger the company that Cuadrilla  contracted to conduct fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

We have demonstrated strong support for divestment, from the public, with 5,000 signatures on our petition that we handed in to the Fund and support from many Greater Manchester councillors and from nine of the local MPs.

The call for divestment is supported by the main climate campaigning  organisations in the city-region, as demonstrated by our joint statement calling on Greater Manchester to do more, faster, to cut its carbon  emissions.

However, we have yet to persuade the Fund to divest all its holdings in the fossil fuel firms that continue to explore, extract and sell as many climate damaging fossil fuels as they can. Moreover, it was four years ago that we called on the Fund to divest its fossil fuel holding over a 5-year timescale. Those years have been wasted really, with the Fund trying to persuade the fossil firms to do good, but with little or nothing to show for it.

So we have updated what we are asking of the Fund:

“In response to the climate emergency, we are calling upon the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to:
1. Make the fund fossil free within the next 2 years.
2. Immediately move all investments out of the most polluting fossil  fuels (coal, tar sands & fracking).
3. Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester.”

3.       If people got involved in your group, what sorts of things would they find themselves doing?
Bring your ideas and put them into action! We try to work strategically, thinking about who we need to influence and how, networking and building support for the campaign within government, inside the pension fund and with Manchester residents more widely.

4.       What has your group got planned between now and the end of  September (and how might it contribute to maintaining morale and momentum in the climate movement in Manchester)
Our main focus currently is the Pension Fund‘s AGM in July. Join us in making a noise and telling the Pension Fund enough is enough. Pension fund divestment is not radical (other local authorities have already divested) but it is critical. It is a very concrete way that the Greater Manchester Authority can demonstrate that it actually is committed to  going carbon neutral. A timebound agreement to divest would be an encouraging sign for other climate campaign groups and add weight to the promises that were made at the Green Summit.

5.       What would you like to see the “climate movement in Manchester” do more generally, both to maintain morale and momentum, but also to increase its effectiveness?
Let’s work together on specific opportunities to influence decision-makers, combining our different approaches to campaign, share our skills and networks and have a strong coherent message that we need more change, faster.

Thanks very much

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Video: Claire Stocks of @XR_MCR (#ExtinctionRebellion in #Manchester), ahead of ‘What Next?’ meeting on Thursday

This Thursday evening (23rd May) there is a free public meeting at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, Central Manchester (behind the Central Library). The meeting is called “What Next for Climate Action in Manchester?” Come to mingle from 7pm, the meeting starts at 7.30 sharp. There will be five panellists, from Extinction Rebellion Manchester, Youth Strike for Climate, Unite the Union Community Branch climate group and Climate Emergency Manchester. Already Climate Emergency Manchester and Rising Up! Manchester Families have produced responses

You can see a  video kindly made by Claire Stocks of Extinction Rebellion Manchester (she will be their panellist on the evening), and also written answers to the questions we put to her at this post on  the website of the host organisation, Climate Emergency Manchester.

 

 

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Whalley Range #Climate Action Group – @RangeAction – video interview #Manchester

The following video interview with Whalley Range Climate Action Group founders Gudrun and Jane was conducted on Saturday 18 May.


We are two friends who have started a group in our area to bring people together on climate breakdown. We feel local action gives hope, builds community and is a chance to do non-blaming outreach work. If we can do it in Whalley Range, so can you in your area.

Whalley Range Climate Action Group

Think globally, act locally for a buzzing, thriving, hopeful, climate-safe Whalley Range

We are a group of local residents who work together to protect the climate. We make individual changes, but we also campaign for the Government, the Council and businesses to act urgently. Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings. Come and share what you are already doing or get started on your first steps together with us.

Stay in touch via:

climateaction@whalleyrangers.org

@RangeAction

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New website/organisation: CircularCityMcr #Manchester #CircularEconomy

Here’s an interview with the founders of a new organisation, CircularCityMcr.

CCMCRWho are you guys? How long  have you been in Manchester? Did you “come for uni and then stayed” like almost everyone else?
Circular City MCR is a Manchester based organisation which promotes planet friendly events. The main drivers behind the project are Agathe and Lisa; a small team of collaborators  also support the project by helping to curate a brilliant selection of things to do. We have proudly launched this May and we hope to grow in the next couple of months!
Get to know Agathe: After 4 years in Manchester, I often still find myself in awe of the creativity and resilience of the people here. There are so many individuals who face into their climate change concerns and truly build a more liveable future. I am incredibly excited that Circular City MCR will bring more attention to them. On a personal note, I am on a plastic free journey so you will probably find me at zero waste events!
Get to know Lisa: As a geographer, being sustainable and finding ways to look after our planet has always been important to me. Co-founding Circular City MCR provided a perfect opportunity to increase awareness of green events and initiatives, whilst making a difference to Manchester. I really enjoy meeting people who are actively engaged in making our city a better place for all. You are likely to find me at Green Community events!
What was the impetus behind Circular City MCR?  What is it trying to achieve? What are your plans/hopes over the coming months?
Here at Circular City MCR, we realise that many Mancunians care about their impact on the planet. Yet, leading an environmentally conscious social life is not as easy as it may seem. The great news is that there is no shortage of green things to do in Manchester – you just need to know where to look! Circular City MCR is all about giving planet friendly events in Manchester the spotlight they deserve.
You might wonder how this all shapes up? We provide a consistent centralised feed of exciting things to do on our website (www.circularcitymcr.com) and a curated feed on our social media (@circularcitymcr). Circular City MCR covers 4 types of events across the 10 Manchester boroughs.
1. Reduce Impact – A collection of green things to do: clean ups, tree planting, new sustainable shops and lots more!
2. Repair & Recycle – Access a world of sustainable items! Find everything you need by repairing your own or finding second hand gems.
3. Food & Drink – Who says being planet friendly can’t be tasty? Fruit picking, vegan cooking classes, local food festivals and more
4. Green Community – Drinks, workshops, lectures… Meet like minded people and change Manchester!
At its core, Circular City MCR serves as a reminder that our consumer choices create a demand for more of the same. We think it is time to generate a real demand for planet friendly events. Over the upcoming months we will be increasing our marketing in an effort to reach a wider audience.
Is it connected to any circular economy projects (like the Ellen Macarthur Foundation), or is it free-standing? 
Circular City MCR is currently free standing. The name refers back to the concept of circular economy because that is our vision for the city we live in. For us, going circular means rejecting the “throw away” culture and reducing our impact on our environment. We aspire to bring together like minded people to increase the demand for a more circular Manchester – a city where being planet friendly is the new normal.
How can people get involved? What sorts of skills and knowledge are you looking for?
If you fancy joining our team, we are after bloggers! We are looking for people who have an eye for planet friendly events, who are genuinely passionate about the cause and have great written skills. We are quite flexible, you can either specialise in a Manchester borough or a type of event (i.e. Reduce Impact, Repair & Recycle, Food & Drink and Green Community). Get in touch via circularcitymcr@gmail.com if you want to discuss further!
In the near future we hope to associate with event organisers to create incentives and make the events even more appealing to the curious. Email us via circularcitymcr@gmail.com if you are interested in partnering up.
Over the last few months there’s been a surge in activity on climate change, both nationally and locally. How do you think the momentum and morale can be sustained over the summer?
We have definitely observed an increase in the national concern around the climate crisis. Whilst it is absolutely critical that momentum isn’t lost, it is also important that eco-anxiety does not take over either. Often the sheer size of the challenge ahead of us seems too daunting to tackle. Here at Circular City MCR, we encourage Manchester to remember that action is the only remedy to despair. Action can mean marching in protest, but it can also mean supporting truly sustainable businesses, starting a zero waste journey, buying from local farms, caring for the local wildlife, donating to causes and so much more! Whether you give your time, your money or your voice, the key is to not stand idle.
Anything else you’d like to say? 
Together, we can raise the profile of planet friendly things to do in Manchester. Please share the word! Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@circularcitymcr) and our website (www.circularcitymcr.com).

 

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Upcoming Event: Climate emergency: let’s talk solutions #Manchester 30 May

Free event, at the Patagonia Store, from 6.30pm on Thurs May 30th. Book here

Climate emergency: let’s talk solutions.
We are witnessing a seismic shift in the campaign to prevent climate breakdown.

Schoolchildren have gone on strike, many deeply committed people have taken to the streets, towns and cities up and down the country have declared an emergency, and the BBC has – finally – broadcast a prime-time documentary on climate change.

If David Attenborough’s ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ (in combination with a Netflix series on the same theme) can have the same effect on the public response to climate change that Blue Planet had on attitudes to plastics, then we might just turn the tide.

The UK, Welsh and Scottish parliaments have now declared a climate emergency. They have recognised that we now have very little time to ensure that we stay within 1.5 degrees C of global temperature rise. October’s IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees C was very clear: we must reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2050, with a 45% decrease on 2010 levels by 2030, if we are to avoid the unthinkable consequences of a world warmed by 2 degrees C or more.

So, we have recognised that we are in an emergency. Now we must urgently turn the conversation to delivering the solutions. This will be the topic of the evening event on the 30th May hosted by Patagonia in Manchester.

For over 12 years (CAT) the Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Britain project has looked at how we can get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions using technology available today – without relying on unproven future carbon-capture technologies and without new nuclear. We’ve crunched the numbers on renewable energy, buildings, transport, diets and land use, and we’ve looked at the social, cultural and economic changes that are needed to bring about the transformation. For more information on the Zero Carbon Britain scenario and the training offered by the CAT visit www.cat.org.uk

So please do join us on the evening of the 30th May. This participative event will open new conversations around what a climate emergency action plan for the UK would look like, and how we can all become involved…

Where: Patagonia, King Street, Manchester

When: 6:30pm Thursday 30th May

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Christian Climate Action, solastalgia and Manchester: Interview with Hannah Malcolm

Hannah Malcolm is a theologian, living in Moss Side. Today at Eco Fest in Whalley Range she gave a talk on solastalgia, climate grief and the Church.
Afterwards, she kindly sat down and gave a short video interview about the Christian Climate Action group (first meeting held last night) and how to get involved.

Her twitter handle (mentioned in the video) is @hannahmmalcolm and the email for the group is  christianclimateactionMCR@gmail.com.

PS Also check out Hannah’s perceptive take on the “sexy priest” in Fleabag!!

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Better Buses campaign for Greater #Manchester

Pascale from the Better Buses campaign kindly answered some questions about the Better Buses campaign and how you can get involved…

1. When was the Better Buses campaign set up, by who? Who is supporting it?
betterbusesThe campaign was set up and is backed by We Own It, an organisation which campaigns for public ownership of public services. With this campaign, we’re calling on Andy Burnham to make a decision for a better, publicly controlled bus network as they have in London. We’ve built a coalition of amazing organisations and groups who are campaigning together, including Unite and Unison North West, ACORN, Better Buses for Bury, Friends of the Earth Manchester, Keep our NHS Public GM, Steady State Manchester and more!

2. What have you done so far and what is coming up?
We’ve had our first public meeting, where 150 came, and met with council leaders all across GM in our action week, which shows how much people care about getting a better bus network. We’ve released research on the £18.4 million going to shareholder payouts every year in the North West, which amounts of £1.49 billion over the past ten years across the UK. We’re going to be working towards the public consultation, where we want to mobilise everyone across GM to tell Andy Burnham that we need and deserve better, publicly controlled buses.

3. In a nutshell, what would ‘victory’ for the Better Buses campaign look like? Is it more buses on more routes? Is it low carbon/electric buses? Some combination? What are some of the wins that could be achieved in the next year?
Public control, or regulation as it’s also known, would mean local authorities plan the network and can demand certain standards. Local authorities say what buses are on what routes, and they offer contracts to companies to run our buses. This uses public money much more efficiently, as a lot less is going to shareholder payouts, which means more buses on more routes, and it means cheaper fares. We need a comprehensive network to get people out of cars definitely. With local authorities accountable to us setting the standards, it means we can transition to a clean fleet much quicker, as we are seeing happen in London. It also means better working conditions for drivers, and audiovisual announcements to make buses more accessible. Success for Better Buses for Greater Manchester is a regulated bus network which is run for the community, not profit.

4. If people get involved, what sorts of things would they end up doing (letter writing? lobbying? marching? other?)
We’d love people to get involved beyond signing the petition (though that really helps too) we have a volunteer organising group which meets to plan the campaign and take actions in their local authority, which people can join, and we welcome more organisations signing up to the coalition to support the campaign, symbolically or physically! We’ve got big plans and we need help, so writing letters to Andy Burnham is one action of many. If you think your action could convince Andy Burnham to side with passengers and staff, then please reach out and say hello. I’m at Pascale@betterbusesgm.org.uk

5. Anything else you want to say
Please sign and share the petition, follow us on Twitter and say hello to get involved however you can! The bus companies do not want a publicly controlled bus network, so we have lots of work and lots to win!

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