Is Carbon Literacy Dead? #Manchester retreats from another #climate goal

The goal of giving everyone who lives, works or studies in Manchester a day’s “Carbon Literacy” training looks to be dead in the water.

At the July meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, the City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Kate Chappell, conceded that it was a “difficult programme to roll out across large institutions” and that there was a question over whether the City Council would commit to it in its current form.  She pointed to public exhibitions (such as the “Climate Control” exhibition at the Manchester Museum) as one way forward.

labour nonsense-page001Members of the scrutiny committee did NOT point out that the roll out of Carbon Literacy was in the Manchester Labour Party’s 2016 election manifesto, but instead voiced their frustration that the training kept getting cancelled at short notice. (MCFly first reported this in August 2014).

Nobody pointed out that at in  late 2014 the chair of Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee agreed that a “lessons learned from only getting 25 councillors carbon literate instead of the target of 60” should be produced.

 

 

You can see the recommendation here.

recommendation6

 

The report was, of course, never produced

Back to now: the agreement of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee was that they might “scrap an unnecessary and unachievable target and get a new one”, with a report back a “couple of meetings time.”
MCFly says

If this comes to pass – but seriously, who could defend the record of carbon literacy training in this city? – then it is just  another retreat from the giddy “ambition” of 2009.

A very brief list of retreats would include

  • The plan was to get 1000 organisations to endorse the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan and then write their own implementation plans.  The Council managed to get 220 organisations to endorse it.  Two wrote plans.
  • There was to be an elected Stakeholder Steering Group that held annual day-long conferences.  No elections were ever held, and the annual conference was unilaterally abolished after becoming a pathetic joke (One conference in 2010, none in 2011, two half-day efforts in 2012 and 2013).
  • The council was to have cut its own emissions by 20% by 2014.  In mid-2016, that goal has still not been achieved, and what progress that has been made is in part due to the sell-off of buildings.
  • The council was to have had 60 of its 96 of its Councillors carbon literate by the end of 2014.  The actual number is around 20.
  • The Executive Member for the Environment committed to setting up a blog, and then never did it.

If you ever get the Council to admit its failings, they will Blame The Tories. Every time.  Regardless of the facts of the matter.

There is no point engaging with these people. They lack both the willingness and the capacity to act at the speed that is required.  But ward-based community “resilience” will ALSO leave many vulnerable people in horrible positions, when the shit really starts hitting the fan.  What is needed is a broad-based, intelligent, learning social movement that is capable of winning small battles but is also able to build its own capacity to act.  There are things that could be done, but they won’t be, while we lounge about in the smugosphere.  So it goes.

 

Next up:  MCFly takes a big dose of humble pie (nom nom), after making wildly inaccurate predictions about what would happen at the NESC meeting.  Watch this space

Posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

#Manchester: A Certain Future Annual General Meeting 2016: A great time had by all.

MCFly’s intrepid reporter Scott Templeton on yesterday’s simply wonderful event at the Town Hall. Read it and weep tears of joy…

  • In the Town Hall, very hot

  • Death by power point

  • Fewer chairs than last year.

  • Fewer people sitting in the chairs.

  • Richard Leese phoning it in.

  • We’ve done a strategy about something else, let me read to you from it.”

  • Line.

  • By.

  • Line

  • Better let both Universities talk now, mustn’t exclude. Marginalise. Annoy.

  • Have they got anything to say? Nope.

  • Next, Gavin Elliot. Chair, wide smile.

  • We’ll miss the 2020 target by what sounds like a little, but let me explain how it’s actually quite a lot.”

  • This graph shows that every other major city exhibits the same track record in greenhouse gas emissions as Manchester.”

  • <Thus proving the futility of this organisation’s existence.>

  • Now Johnny Sadler, long time council officer. First in, last out.

  • We have established Manchester Climate Agency CIC (MCCACiC).”

  • Because it was the right thing to do. Not because of cuts and austerity. Definitely not that.”

  • ***WHITE TEXT ON YELLOW BACKGROUND SLIDES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!***

  • We’ve set up a community interest company (CIC) to get some funding. But not at the expense of existing organisations. Definitely not that.”

  • ***WHITE TEXT ON YELLOW BACKGROUND SLIDES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!***

  • The words illegible, eyes straining, the message lost, unreadable.

  • Headache grows.

  • Good news on the 2020 target. We’re going to forget about it and set a much more challenging target for 2050. When we will all be retired and/or dead.”

  • We definitely did not set a target in the far distant future because all of us will be retired and/or dead by then. Definitely not that.”

  • Now, let me read to you from our 2050 Strategy.”

  • Line.

  • By.

  • Line.

  • Nearly the last slide, promise. Just a few more slides. Next one, nearly the last one. Stay with me, STAY WITH ME!”

  • PS We run out of money in April 2017. Please give generously.”

  • 30 fucking minutes. Time, ebbing, lost, never to be recovered.

  • Q&A panel: those who can, leave. Others, lost, immobile, empty: stay.

  • Panel: white, male, middle aged. Nothing to say.

  • How can we, what might we, err…..<trails in to silence>.”

  • The powerlessness of politicians laid bare.

  • The empty promise of neo-liberalism.

  • A cruel lie.

  • Don’t mention the fucking #Brexit

  • Leese, dead behind the eyes.

  • Here.

  • But not here.

  • Sadler, crushed under the weight of his own PowerPoint

  • ***WHITE TEXT ON YELLOW BACKGROUND SLIDES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!***

  • Elliot, smiles.

  • Hides the tears well.

  • Soul crushed.

  • No need to be brave.

  • Let the sobs out.

  • Loud, long and clear.

  • Thanks for coming!” Polite applause, drinks reception.

  • The end.

  • See you all next year!”

Posted in #mcrclimateplan, Manchester City Council | 3 Comments

Not a single #climate meeting at ward co-ordination level in #Manchester. No officers carbon literate

Manchester City Council has been forced to admit that “No specific carbon literacy events have taken place at ward coordination level.” This is despite the fact that the Executive Member for the Environment, Kate Chappell, announced in a public letter on February 28 2014  that she “like[d] the idea of carbon literacy at Ward Coordination level, and think this would be a good way of making goals on carbon reductions meaningful to people.”

The Council has further been forced to admit that there is no target date for ward coordination groups to have carbon literacy events and that not a single one of the eleven officers who are currently responsible for ward coordination (ie: Neighbourhood Managers)  have completed face to face training.
“With regards to the on-line training module on Carbon Literacy, of the 11
Neighbourhood Managers:
2 = Completed Training
4 = In progress
5 = Not yet progressed”

Maybe some of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee councillors who think that they are doing a good job of scrutinising might like to look into this?

Below you can see the Freedom of Information Act request and the Council’s reply;

Dear Sir/Madam,

On February 28 2014 the Executive Member for the Environment wrote a letter about climate change to a group of citizens.  You can see a copy here.
https://manchesterclimatemonthly.net/2014/03/05/manchester-council-climate-boss-replies-to-open-letter-from-citizens/

In it, she said that she “likes the idea of carbon literacy at Ward
Coordination level, and think this would be a good way of making goals on
carbon reductions meaningful to people.”

I am writing to request the following specific information.  And please, no
generic answers-to-different questions as were given in response to
GAN/A9ZLL8.

Given the Executive Member’s public support I have the following questions.

1. In which of the 32 wards of Manchester have carbon literacy at the “ward
co-ordination level” taken place?  When did these events take place, how
many people attended each (a rough estimate is fine if an actual number
does not exist).

2. What is the target date for all wards to have had carbon literacy events
for both members of the public and ward coordination staff?

3. Of the officers who are responsible for ward co-ordination, how many
have completed all of their carbon literacy training?  How many have
completed only face-to-face training? How many have only completed on-line
training? How many have completed neither?  Please note, I am NOT asking
for the names of individuals, so don’t use the ‘privacy’ line on me.

In response:

1. In which of the 32 wards of Manchester have carbon literacy at the “ward
co-ordination  level”  taken  place?  When did these events take place, how
many  people  attended  each  (a rough estimate is fine if an actual number
does not exist).

No specific carbon literacy events have taken place at ward coordination
level.

2. What is the target date for all wards to have had carbon literacy events
for both members of the public and ward coordination staff?

There is no target date for ward coordination groups to have carbon
literacy events.

3.  Of  the  officers  who are responsible for ward co-ordination, how many
have  completed  all  of  their  carbon  literacy  training?  How many have
completed  only face-to-face training? How many have only completed on-line
training?  How  many  have completed neither?  Please note, I am NOT asking
for the names of individuals, so don’t use the ‘privacy’ line on me.

Of the officers who are currently responsible for ward coordination (ie:
Neighbourhood Managers) none have completed face to face training.
With regards to the on-line training module on Carbon Literacy, of the 11
Neighbourhood Managers:

2 = Completed Training
4 = In progress
5 = Not yet progressed

Please  note if you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an
internal review. If you wish an internal review to be undertaken you should
contact  the  Democratic Services Legal Team, whose address is, PO Box 532,
Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA, email:
informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk in the first instance. A copy of
the Council’s access to information complaints procedure can be downloaded
from
http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/6095/access_to_information_complaints_and_appeal_procedure
. If you do not have internet access and require a paper copy, please let
me know.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review process, you
have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.

Posted in #mcrclimateplan, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Manchester “Climate Change Agency” – that legal advice in full

In honour of the AGM of the so-called Manchester Climate Change Agency that is happening this evening, this post may be of interest. Councillor Chappell was asked for a comment many weeks ago. T

What procedures might the Council want to follow as it dishes out tens of thousands of pounds to a “community interest company” that one of its Executive Members helped to found?   It’s a good question, isn’t it?  Immediately below you can see all the legal advice around any potential conflict of interest about the Council’s extensive support for the Manchester A Certain Future Community Interest Company, established in September 2015.

advice

In response to a Freedom of Information act request the City Council has written to say that it

“can confirm that there is no correspondence between Cllr Kate Chappell and the Council’s Legal personnel about Cllr Chappell’s role or potential conflicts of interest as a Director of the Manchester A Certain Futures [sic] Group and her role as an Executive Member.”

For the benefit of any lawyers reading this, let us all be clear – Councillor Chappell derives absolutely no financial gain from her directorship of the Community Interest Company that now rather grandly (and with zero justification) calls itself the “Manchester Climate Change Agency”.

However, as Executive Member for the Environment she presumably has responsibility for whether the group receives further funding and support (i.e. seconded staff) from the Council’s depleted coffers. Given that the Council has never asked for any independent assessment of how effectively the group spends the money and resources it has been given so far, it would surely be helpful to ask about potential conflicts of interest?

MCFly emailed the Executive Member for the Environment for comment on Monday evening [13th June]. At time of going to press, no reply had been received.

Perhaps she would like to blog about this?

 

 

Here’s the FoIA reply that MCFly got last week (3rd June)

I am writing to request the following information.

  1. a) If it exists, a copy of the written guidance given to councillors who are directors of companies (including Community Interest Companies) that receive funds from Manchester City Council around questions of propriety and (potential) conflicts of interest.
  1. b) All correspondence between Councillor Kate Chappell and relevant legal officers in Manchester City Council about her role as a Director of the Manchester A Certain Future Community Interest Company, established on 3rd September 2015, and giving its address as the Town Hall Extension and her simultaneous role as Executive Member for the Environment in connection with conflicts of interest.

In response to your request , I confirm that guidance in respect of Members interests including guidance on decision making where there may be a potential conflict of interest can be found in Section 6 Part A of the Council’s Constitution which can be accessed here:

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/4030/the_constitition

There is no specific written guidance concerning conflict of interest given to councillors who are directors of companies, including Community Interest Companies, that receive funds from Council.

The Council can confirm that there is no correspondence between Cllr Kate Chappell and the Council’s Legal personnel about Cllr Chappell’s role or potential conflicts of interest as a Director of the Manchester A Certain Futures Group and her role as an Executive Member.

Please note if you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an internal review. If you wish an internal review to be undertaken you should contact the Democratic Services Legal Team, whose address is, PO Box 532, Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA, email:

informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk in the first instance. A copy of the Council’s access to information complaints procedure can be downloaded from http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/6095/access_to_information_complaints_and_appeal_procedure. If you do not have internet access and require a paper copy, please let me know.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review process, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

Posted in Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Open letter to Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee members on #climate “report”

MCFly has been covering the council’s promises (and the breaking of those promises) for many years. The latest dreadful report – to be discussed for a few minutes at a “scrutiny” committee meeting on Tuesday 19th July at 2pm –  is too dreadful to take seriously. One of the many hilarious absences is on culture change, with the May 2016 Manchester Labor Party manifesto of “carbon literacy” for its councillors and the public already seemingly forgotten. There is much much else to say, but frankly, why bother? The Council machine is freaking out about the impliciations of Brexit (see the report here) and has neither the stomach nor the competence to keep even the smallest of its promises.  It’s over.  Carpe the diems, folks.  If carpeing diems for you involves telling our elected representatives to  take climate change seriously, then you go right ahead.  It does for MCFly’s editor, just not at the level it used to…  Below please find a good letter from another Moss Side resident.  Will there be an acknowledgement? Response? Thanks to a citizen for doing the job that the councillors are political unwilling or cognitively unable to do?  Of course not.

Dear Cllrs

These are my concerns regarding the Climate Change Action Plan and Emissions report that is going to the Neighbourhood and Environment scrutiny committee tomorrow, please can you raise them?

Kind Regards,
[Moss Side resident]

1. The report does not mention that in the 3rd Background document listed in the report (MCC Climate Change Delivery Plan 2010-2020) Manchester City Council originally had a target to reduce its emissions bellow the baseline by 20% by 2013/14. This has still not been met, two years later. This is incredibly concerning. Why has this not happened?

2. MACF has 4 stated aims and receives 10’s of thousands of pounds a year from the council. MACF’s second stated aim is to “To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in a process of cultural change that embeds low carbon thinking into the lifestyles and operations of the city;” . Why does the “MCC Climate Change Action Plan [sic] 2016/17 to 2019/20 ” drop all references in the plan to culture and Carbon Literacy Training included in previous “plans”?

3. MACF’s 3rd stated aim is to “Prepare for and actively adapt to a rapidly changing climate” . The council’s previous Action Plan [sic] had the action of “Review the impact of the five pilot ward-level environmental audits and establish next steps ” . To prepare ourselves for the horrors to come, localised planning is crucial. What has happened to the “five pilot ward-level environmental audits” – and why have these been removed from the council’s plan, with no report given to the scrutiny committee on these pilot audits?

4. The WWF Timber pledge has just been dropped from the plan, after being in it for the last couple of years, due to ‘budget and technical constraints’. How many other parts of the plan will be dropped by the council due to similar constraints? Why weren’t these other constraints factored in to the plan for the last couple of years for this pledge?

5. The change in energy emissions from buildings has been incredibly erratic. Town Hall Extension / Central Library , New Smithfield Wholesale Market, Sharp Project Media Centre, Wenlock Way Offices, Manchester Art Gallery – have all had really large, sometimes astonishingly large, drops in emissions. Manchester Aquatics Centre, Town Hall, Wythenshawe Forum and Moss Side Leisure Centre are examples of buildings that have had huge increases in emissions. Last year, reasons were given on the report for increases and decreases, it would be useful to have these reasons given this year – particularly as there are so many buildings which have had a dramatic change in emissions.

Posted in #mcrclimateplan, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

#Climate gets a mention at Scrutiny Week July 2016 #Manchester

Manchester City Council has 6 “scrutiny” committees that are supposed to keep tabs on what the 9 member Executive and the officers are up to. Supposed to. One of the problems is, there is – out of 96 councillors – only a single non-Labour councillor (John Leech, Lib Dem, in Didsbury West Ward). So, while there are some councillors with axes to grind and bones to pick, there are very few who will get hold of an awkward issue on which the council has been faaaaaaiiiiiiling consistently (take, oh, I don’t know, climate change as a random example) and ask specific questions, and then refuse to be fobbed off by the officer or Exec member. Failure to back off and accept the nonsense they spout would be a career-limiting move, you see. The people at the top do not reward such awkward independence that lets cats out of bag, skeletons out of closet.

But asides from them all being from the same party, the problems go deeper.  Reports are opaque, delivered at short notice and there is simply too much for some committees to tackle.  And councillors are just normal human beings (well, most of them), with other commitments (jobs, family, volunteering, helping people who are getting screwed by the Tories).  So the amount of time and energy they can dedicate to piercing the propaganda is extremely limited.

Meanwhile, both the media and civil society are largely asleep at the wheel. [For more on all this, see here] .

So, scrutiny is an empty soothing ritual, where naïve activists go to get their belief in the representatives of representative democracy crushed.

If you DO want to go to a scrutiny committee meeting then please, for the love of gaia

a) do not go alone

b) do not go unprepared.

Some of the most miserable, horrible, soul-destroying hours of my life have been spent watching the farce that calls itself ‘scrutiny’.

It IS worth going (once or twice maybe), but not alone, and not unprepared. Srsly. Here’s a five minute video about what happens and some further advice.

Please feel free to contact MCFly – mcmonthly@gmail.com if you want more info.

Here below I have click click clicked through to all the specific pages of the website where the six scrutiny committee agendas are.  The Council COULD, if it wanted, easily have one page where all the agendas were available. The fact that it doesn’t tells you exactly how much they care about keeping citizens informed.

Tuesday 19th July

Young People and Children’s

10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

Neighbourhoods and “Environment”

2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

 

So, if all items get an equal amount of time, and the meeting is kept to two hours there will be… 20 minutes for discussion of climate change.  And one of those minutes will be taken up explaining how to spell emissions.  God help us all.

Weds 20th July

Economy Scrutiny Committee

10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

Communities and Equalities

2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

Thurs 21st July

“Resources and Governance”

10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

Health

2pm  The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Agenda

Reports

 

Posted in Manchester City Council, Scrutiny Week, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming: Manchester ESD forum, July 12th

Just to remind you that if you would like to come along to the next Greater Manchester ESD Forum and MEEN AGM it will be held on Tuesday 12th July 2016, 2.30 – 5pm at Bridge 5 Mill, M4 7HR. Go tohttp://www.meen.org.uk/where-to-find-us for directions.

We are delighted to invite you to welcome pupils from St Brigid’s RC Primary and Armitage C of E Primarywho will open the session by sharing their learning about East Manchester’s environment and wildlife through a Heritage Lottery project called ‘Our Environment, Our Heritage’.

This year’s special guest speaker is Anne Selby, Chief Executive of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust who will undoubtedly inspire us with news of new opportunities to both educate about and support wildlife and habitats in and around Greater Manchester.

We will also share what we can of the ‘Natural Connections’ project from Plymouth University whose Outdoor Learning research project has just come to an end. Will they have any new insights to share?

Most important though is the opportunity to share our news and network with each other over tea and cake!

We do hope you can make it. It promises to be an inspiring and productive session. All you have to do is let us know you are coming by a return email. Furthermore, MEEN is interested in accepting new board members. If you would like to talk about joining the board please ring me on 07505172335.

Hope you can make it!

All the very best

Raichael Lock

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M.E.E.N.
Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street
Manchester, M4 7HR
GB

Posted in Upcoming Events | Leave a comment