Seminar: Climate Change & Sustainability #Manchester Saturday 21st April

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 The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom is holding a seminar on “Climate Change and Sustainability” on Saturday 21st of April. It’s free and you’ll get to meet lots of interesting people. I’ll be there too…

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Upcoming Event: “A Rubbish Night at the Museum” #Manchester 19 April

rubbishnight.PNG.from here

Do residents in Manchester have to live surrounded by rubbish? Or can we change it?

If you care about Manchester, our neighbourhoods, our communities, and our international reputation, then let’s talk about rubbish.

Join us for “A Rubbish Night at the Museum”.

The aim is simple and ambitious. We want to challenge and inspire the universities, councils, businesses, waste authorities and residents to work together to build the intellectual and practical capacity to deal with rubbish.

Mayor Andy Burnham wants Greater Manchester to become a “world leading cleaner and greener city region“. Yet visitors and international students compare Manchester with their home cities as they step over filth and rubbish.

As one international student put it in a recent research interview “Maybe this is how British people live”.

This event

We want this to be an engaging, enjoyable and memorable event, where we face the Manchester mess, question current policy, and try to improve the future for us all.

There will be over 60 displays of photographs, art work, policy quotes, innovation and research findings, including comments from Manchester residents.

Thursday evening, 19th April 6-9pm is the main event. As well as the displays, there will be conversationsreadingspanel discussions and great food.

It will occupy the whole of the beautiful top floor of the Manchester Museum, with direct lift access from the entrance archway on Oxford Rd.

The displays will then remain in place from Friday to Sunday – the Earth Day weekend. Some of the contributors will join conversations on those days too.

Children: there will be fun activities for children on the Saturday, as part of the Museum’s Earth Day activities.

Food and drink

On Thursday evening, canapes / nibbles / snacks will be served from 6-8pm by Real Junk Food Manchester. They offer impressive fine dining and catering, from food sourced directly from suppliers that would otherwise go to waste.

The food will include vegan, meat and gluten free options, and both savoury and sweet. As in their restaurant, it will be served on a “pay what you feel” basis.

Drinks, tea and coffee will be available from the Museum bar.

Everyone welcome

The event is for residents, neighbours, policy makers, international and UK students, academics, businesses, waste operators, and everyone interested in reducing waste and rubbish across Greater Manchester.

(If you have the privilege of being paid to deal with GM rubbish professionally, then consider it your job to be there!)

Bring friends and neighbours to enjoy it together, to build collaborations in your area, and to connect with people in other areas.

Provisional programme

Main area

6.00 – 9.00 Displays and conversations. Drinks from the bar. Tea & coffee.

6.00 – 8.00 Canapes / nibbles / snacks served by Real Junk Food Manchester.

Event space

6.00 – 6.30 Displays, canapes, drinks and conversations

6.30 – 6.45 Readings of resident experiences.

6.45 – 7.30 Public and panel discussion: what are the challenges, and what are the solutions? Resident experience and questions will direct and focus the discussion. Invited panel to include a waste/recycling policy maker, researcher, campaigner, and active resident.

7.30 – 8.00 Break: Displays, food, drinks and conversations.

8.00 – 8.35 Discussion: building a shared vision and commitment for ways forward.

8.35 – 8.50 Readings of resident experiences (repeat).

8.50 – 9.00 Networking and close.

Remember the 60+ displays will remain for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday daytime.

Register for the Rubbish Night – Free

Register in advance because this large beautiful space is ultimately limited, because we want to know that people across Manchester have heard about the event, and because we want to avoid wasting good food!

Over 200 people have registered already, so don’t delay. Put Thursday 19th April 6pm in your diary.

Why?

With the pressures of “peak stuff” and multiple-occupancy houses, there are many causes for this rubbish. We need a GM rubbish policy that recognises them, and works. (We’ll use the hashtag #GMTalkingRubbish to continue the discussions.)

The event is intended to be an engaging and enjoyable way to help us all to identify the issues, question current policy with confidence, and make a practical difference in our streets. GM authorities need to work with residents to solve this problem. So let’s try to make it happen.

Organisers and funders

With many contributors, the event is organised by “Upping It” (an award-winning community organisation in Manchester) in collaboration with The Manchester Museum as part of the Museum’s sustainability agenda.

The event draws on collaborative research at The University of Manchester, Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI). It is funded by the SCI, plus the University’s “engaging our communities” fund.

FAQs

Children

There will be fun rubbish activities for children on the Saturday, which is a ‘Big Saturday’ at the Museum to celebrate Earth Day on 22nd.

Disabled access

The lift is direct to the top floor from the entrance in the Museum archway on Oxford Rd. Toilets are on the ground and top floors.

Participation as a contributor

If you, your group or organisation would like to propose contributing a display or objects to the event, either directly based on resident experience, or about innovative socially and environmentally responsible means of waste prevention, waste reduction or post-consumer waste management, or about current waste policy and its critiques, directly relevant to Greater Manchester, then please email a suggestion to Simon@UppingIt.org.uk.

Note there are no spaces for stalls, and displays need to be primarily about the issues of waste, waste management and rubbish, not promoting your organisation. They need to be engaging and relevant to Manchester residents, but may also have more information for those with particular interests.

We are also interested in a loan and delivery of a reverse vending machine, loan and delivery of clean 140l wheelie bins of all colours, and the supply of printed hi-viz vests and high quality litter-picking kits.

Contact

Any questions about the event, contact Simon on rubbish-night@uppingit.org.uk

Any questions about the Museum, contact the Museum on 0161 275 2648

Full address of venue:

Manchester Museum
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester
M13 9PL

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Great Green Future or the Last Straw? #GMGreenCity

For reasons that escape all explanation, Manchester Climate Fortnightly’s editor did not pass the (mysterious and unexplained) selection process for the recent Mayor’s “Green” Summit. Go figure.  Anyway, some people who did go have written up their reflections.  Here is the first one.  Others to follow; the more the merrier.

Fwiw, MCFly’s take is this: of course Andy Burnham wants to have another summit. It’s good PR. And of course it will be more of the same top-down guff about plastic straws. The real work of democracy, which neither Burnham and his cronies NOR the environmental ‘campaigners’ want is for the actual machinery of democracy and scrutiny to be there all year round. For the former that would be too uncomfortable, for the latter too much like hard work.

 

GM Mayor Andy Burnham’s Summit Report.

I arrived early as requested to clear security; as it happens although my bag was checked, nobody asked for proof of ID (the driving license I had dug out proving superfluous). Initially I was frustrated that the ‘here to help’ helpers seemed unable to help me locate either cloakroom or refreshment area (better signage particularly to reach the remote refreshment area – and ‘Marketplace’ would have been useful). Once that was sorted the next hour, before the official start was very useful. There were many stalls to interact with and a good opportunity to network generally.

The formal event started well (and only 5 minutes late). Andy Burnham delivered his opening remarks and made plenty of right noises, including a recognition that the 2050 target for zero carbon was too late, and instead stated his intention to make Manchester the first Zero Carbon City Region with a target date for 2038. He was followed by Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre – excellent as always. He came over less doom and gloom than he used to (despite the dire situation) but pulled no punches over the need to make all the necessary cuts over just the next few years; as he put it ‘Winning slowly is as bad as losing outright’.

Next up was Alex Ganotis, Stockport Council Leader and GM Lead on the Green City. He started ok, clearly stating that environmental actions should not be separate from other policy areas, but ran a good ten minutes over his al1oted time, degenerating into death by Powerpoint. There was a video message from Clare Perry, the Tory Environment Minister which was mercifully short. followed by 2 more keynote speeches, from reps from the Environment Agency and Business (Marks and Spencer).

At this point (11.50 instead of the programmed 11.35) we split into two groups Green and Orange. The Orange Group I was in, went to lunch, a fairly basic but adequate baked potato based meal, which for most attenders had to be eaten standing up. From there we were ushered to the six ‘Thematic Feedback rooms’ where we were asked to provide written feedback on long lists of ideas which had emerged from the ‘listening’ event (confession: I didn’t attend a single listening event); there were many good ideas there with which I could only agree. This was the only part of the day where there was any opportunity for the vast majority of attenders to contribute, and given the amount of material, 40 minutes was not enough to do it justice. We were then transferred to the auditorium for no less than 8 five minute slots (entitled ‘Local Successes and Provocations’). At the end of this, the Green Group (who had been through the same process in a different order) rejoined us.

The afternoon session then began, at 14.27 instead of the intended 14.00. First item ‘Andy Burnham – Welcome back, reflects on what he has heard’ (I’m more interested in what he’s going to do than what he has heard). At least he didn’t say much at this point (beyond teasing us with the anticipated arrival of a ‘special guest’ later on), moving on quickly to the next 2 key speakers (from BBC North and United Utilities). When in doubt have a key speaker, though to be fair Alice Webb of the BBC delivered the best speech of the day apart from Kevin.

The following session was ‘Panel and Audience QA Session’. Hooray I thought, they’re going to give us a chance to be involved. And indeed at exactly 3.24 pm – 36 minutes before the whole event was due to finish – a call went out for anyone in the audience to ask a question. A couple of people got in before the session ended and we moved on to ‘Pledge Session and Online Participation’…

My heartbeat increased – would we all be asked to reveal our pledges?! Andy Burnam’s heartbeat also increased as he prepared to announce the appearance of the special guest – who could it be we thought, David Attenborough maybe? – nope it was…. wait for it….(anyone opposed to the imposition of a fenced and floodlight football pitch on the green space of Turn Moss, or to the building of a huge tower in front of historic Manchester Town Hall, should look away now) ….. Gary Neville!. We were then presented with four white men – Burnham, Ganotis, Neville and an actor from Cold Feet (whose name I forget) talking to each other with little if any interaction with the audience. At this point we were already way past the scheduled finishing time.

This pledge session built to a climax where a group of business people got on stage to proudly announce their support for a pledge to ban single use plastic drinking straws and generally slap each other on the back. Dear reader, I couldn’t take any more and I left (I had been sat down with no loo break or refreshments for over 3 hours). By that time I reckon at least a third of the initial audience had already gone. To be fair, the drinking straw pledge made the national news, but I don’t think it’s what Kevin Anderson had in mind in terms of priorities. So sadly I missed Andy’s 15 minutes of closing remarks.

General Points:

The above description probably comes across as pretty negative, but there were good aspects to the day as well, particularly what seems to be a genuine recognition across some businesses and politicians at least that we need to do better; also some opportunity to network and learn of good initiatives around the city region. I did glean a number of useful bits of information. Also I’m prepared to give Andy Burnham the benefit of the doubt about his sincerity to make major changes…

However:

There were far too many speeches from the platform and far too few opportunities for the audience to participate. In the whole day there was only time for 6 questions from the audience.

There was only forty minutes in the whole day allowed for the vast majority of participants to actually contribute anything.

For an one day event to overrun by over 40 minutes is inexcusable (in my opinion). In mitigation it does take time to move hundreds of people around, but the time needed for that was probably underestimated.

To have an audience sat motionless for over three hours continuously is also unacceptable (in my opinion).

The audience was fairly gender balanced, but overwhelmingly white. There were some non-white faces but they mainly belonged to the people serving the food and sweeping the floors. I would say it mainly consisted of two groups – green campaigners and other worthies, and business people with a conscience (or an optimistic sense of opportunity). So whatever the selection process was, it didn’t result in a representative sample of the population.

The building was too hot, particularly in the ‘thematic’ rooms and in the auditorium in the afternoon.

To summarise the day, although Kevin Anderson called on us to stop doing things the 19th and 20th century way, most of the day was very much old thinking based, with just a nod at 21st century in the form of celebrity culture.

Above all, the measure of success isn’t the event itself but what comes after it. We were promised a follow up summit within the year, but the real test will be the plan, the process, the milestones and the accountability, not just now but over the coming years.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Job Alert: 3 campaigning jobs at Friends of the Earth

Campaigner (x3)

Salary:
£32,630 – £37,365 per annum, pro-rata (inc. London weighting if applicable)
Location:
Flexible (with regular travel to London office)
Hours/days per week:
35 per week / Mon-Fri
Contract:
Fixed Term Contract (Various lengths)
Closing date:
23:59 on Sunday 25 March 2018
Interview date:
Week commencing 3 April 2018

 

Extraordinary campaigners wanted to protect people and the planet.

We’re looking for several experienced Campaigners to join our team to deliver world-changing campaigns for a just world where people and nature thrive.

As a Campaigner with us you will join one of our hard-hitting teams, working with others to develop and deliver campaign strategies and plans that will deliver real-world change, from stopping fracking and securing the end of coal, to ending the use of bee-harming pesticides, ensuring that Brexit does not rip up environmental protections or stopping the public from breathing in diesel fumes.

We are currently recruiting for three positions with unique needs:

As our Fossil Free campaigner (9 months FTC), you’ll build campaigns in regional areas, identifying key campaign opportunities, skilling up activists, holding rallies and community meetings.

As our Brexit campaigner (9 months FTC), you’ll lead on funded work at a European level as well as providing monitoring and reporting. You’ll also develop relationships across the Friends of the Earth Europe network, providing support to colleagues in influencing their national governments and other key stakeholders

Working with EU governments and stakeholders you’ll ensure environmental protections are not weakened post-Brexit, supporting the delivery of the wider Brexit campaign strategy at the UK level.

Plastics campaigner (1 year FTC)

You’ll work with a range of stakeholders to reduce plastic use in innovative and impactful ways.

For each of these roles, we’re looking for an individual who can demonstrate strategic thinking in developing and delivering campaign strategies – analyzing the situation to identify not just what sort of pressure for change is needed, but precisely where and when it should be applied to achieve our campaign goal. With an understanding of politics and power in the broadest sense, including but not limited to understanding the UK Parliament and using the law to campaign, you’ll be experienced in working with and building coalitions, and be able to engage a broad range of audiences, from existing supporters, to young people, and groups currently under-represented in the environment movement.

Role specific responsibilities

For the Brexit role, you’ll need:

  • Experience of working at an EU level (or across several member states) within the European Parliament/Council/Commission, and with civil society and political processes
  • An understanding of EU processes and stakeholders, and of routes to influence the Council and Commission, as well as the Parliament
  • A good understanding of EU law, particularly pertaining to the environment, and its application in the UK
  • To understand trade policy and have experience in communicating and campaigning on trade related issues

For the Fossil Free role, it would be desirable to have:

  • A good understanding of fossil fuels and why they are a threat to climate and people
  • An understanding of the fossil free and anti-fracking movement
  • Experience of developing relationships and actions, and cultivating leadership with a wide range of stakeholders

For the Plastics role, it would be desirable to have:

  • Experience working on plastic pollution including working with corporate sector and politicians to reduce plastics use.

In return, we offer a competitive range of benefits, a good work/life balance, excellent learning and development opportunities and a vibrant and friendly organisational culture.

To apply, download our job description and complete our application form telling us how you meet the essential criteria stated in the person specification and press the apply button below.

Diversity and equal opportunities:

Friends of the Earth is an equal opportunities employer and we are especially keen to encourage applications from people currently under-represented in the environment movement including: black and minority ethnic people; disabled people; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and woman in senior positions. Do contact us as we really do want you to see how you can become part of the Friends of the Earth team.

Want to apply?

  1. Read the role profile/job description:Microsoft Office document icon JD -Campaigner x3.doc
  2. Additional document(s):
  3. Download and complete the application form: Microsoft Office document icon Application Form.doc
  4. Click “apply now” and complete the online form

Apply now

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Carbon Coop Home Energy Training, Spring 2018 #Manchester

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Leaked copy of Andy Burnham’s speech to his Green Summit next week!! #Manchester #Climate

burnham

“You’re not getting me to read that out.  It’d cause a riot.”

One of MCFly’s many admirers within the Manchester/Greater Manchester climate bureaucracy has sent us an advance copy of the Mayor’s speech, urging us to publish it as part of a cunning marketing strategy….

And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Sydney I am willing to sell you. Cash only.

No, this little beauty below fell through a wormhole from a parallel universe where humans decided not to waste their timey-wimey on more bullshit, but actually take the climate change problem they’ve known about for half a century seriously

 

 

 

(The MC does the usual sycophantic pleasantries and fluffing.  Then the man himself, the Right Honourable Andy Burnham takes to the lectern.  He smiles for the camera(s) and looks out at the audience.)

Andy: First I want to ask you a simple question.  Stick up your hand if at some point in your life you have heard a long boring speech by an elected official, full of sound and fury and signifying nowt?

(All hands go up, except for one bilateral upper limb amputee, who nods so hard his head almost falls off).

Andy: Great.  Because that was actually a vote taken on false premises – a bit like that June 2016 one.  What you just did was vote, about how long – and blunt – my speech should be. If more hands had stayed down than went up, I’d have given you the whole “motherhood and apple pie thing”, with cheesy anecdotes, the tag line about believing in the power of people and some more guff about ‘the first industrial revolution began in Manchester blah de blah.”

But despite the summit organisers’ best efforts to weed out malcontents, you’re still clearly a clued-up audience.

So instead, you’re gonna get something much shorter, much more uncomfortable, hopefully for all of us. And much more productive. Because if there is one thing you should take away from this it’s that the normal way of doing policy creation and implementation is not going to get us out of this mess, and that we all have to behave very differently from now on.

Okay that’s two things. But you get the point.

And though, to channel my inner Gordon Brown “I agree with Marc” when he says have a LOT to learn from the past ten years of failure in tackling climate change in Manchester, and that failure to learn the lessons of the past probably condemns us to repeating them, I am going to put that to one side for today at least.  Today I am going to keep this future-focussed, and as positive as I can make it.

But do not confuse positive with “hopey-ness.”  Because there is such a thing as false hope, there such a thing as cruel optimism.   These are a short-term drug, and lead to disappointment and demotivation.

So this is not a speech about hope. Because, anyway, thanks to the inaction over the last thirty years, there is very little hope to be had.

We need something different anyway. We need something far more difficult than hope. We need, as Kate Marvel, a climate scientist recently said, not hope, but courage.

Okay.  But does courage look like?  What does it MEAN, in concrete,  in practice, in Manchester, in the coming months and years?  That’s what I want to talk about now.  I want to address my fellow politicians and the bureaucrats who feed on them.  Sorry, feed them ideas.  I want to address business, and I want to address the young, the academics and the activists.

First, to my fellow politicians and bureaucrats

Courage means abandoning our training, and our instincts for self-preservation.  We have been trained, we have been rewarded when we spin we prevaricate, we equivocate.   We have been trained to attack anyone weaker than us who dares criticise us.   Some of us are very good at that one.

But all this creates and amplifies the cynicism, the distrust, the refusal to engage on the part of so many people and organisations  whose energy and ideas are desperately needed. We need citizens to be citizens, and yet we treat them like mushrooms – to be kept in the dark and fed on bullshit.

So courage means being honest about the gaps between promises and delivery, and not simply blaming everything on central government.

It means being honest about the failures that have happened and will happen.

It means having advisory panels that aren’t just stacked with the obedient, the pliable, who will tell you what you want to hear in exchange for trivial amounts of funding.

To business

We need you to have the courage not just to innovate in not just your products, but your financial models, your processes and so much more.  We need you to help your customers and consumers reduce their carbon footprints. We need you to focus on the kinds of products that are long-lasting, give real value.  We need you to join with government in making sure that regulations are obeyed to their spirit and not just their letter, and that costs are not dumped on the broader public, other species and future generations.    Of course, that’s how a lot of you make your money, so I’m not holding out much hope. The only people who can really keep you honest – and strip you of your ‘social licence to operate’ when it needs to be – are civil society actors, up on their hind legs.  And so that’s who I turn to now.

And now to “civil society.” That’s a vast category, so I will focus only on three groups today: the young, academics and environmental pressure groups.

To the young

Someone once said “never trust anyone over 30”. They were right.  We have failed you. We have known about the climate problem since 1988. And we have failed to take real action. We’ve made some nice sounding promises, but when the going got tough, we kicked the can down the road, we kicked it into the too hard basket and we let ourselves believe that some LED lighting and a couple of solar panels would do the trick.  Do not trust us. Hold us to account. Remember the promises we make to you. Demand that they are specific, measurable, that we can’t weasel out.  This wretched stupid ‘charter’ would be a good place to start.
Then, do the hard work of scrutinising us, of monitoring us. Don’t let us fob you off. And we will try. It’s in our DNA.

One piece of advice and one warning.

The advice: As angry as you get at our lies and our evasions, try to stay polite, for the simple reason that it makes it that much harder for we politicians and bureaucrat to dismiss you.

The warning:  what I am describing is much much harder than going on the occasional march, signing an online petition. It is time consuming and emotionally exhausting. Your lords and masters will ignore you, fob you off, smear you, demonise you.

Therefore this has to be done in groups, in teams. Do it alone, and you will burn out, and serve as a warning to other would-be activists.  Do it together.

To  academics

Somebody, I forget who, said it was the role of intellectuals to expose lies and tell the truth.  Well, not all intellectuals are academics, and it is certainly the case that not all academics are intellectuals.  But I digress. I want you to do three things.

First, if you are being pressured by your university and/or a local authority into going quiet on important research that is politically embarrassing, come straight to me.  Tell me what has happened. I will work with you to keep the flow of actual data – even if , no, ESPECIALLY if – someone has tried to water it down, to bully you. That’s courage, and I intend to display it, and support you.

Secondly, for every seminar you hold among yourselves, for every policy briefing you give to elite actors, please give AT LEAST one, preferably more, to trades unions, community groups, church groups.  Make youtube videos about your research, and why it matters to your ultimate funders – the taxpayer.

Thirdly,  you have to write in plain English, and SPEAK in English. Not everyone has a PhD, not everyone is confident with jargon and endless sentences hedged with conditionalities and whatifferies.  If we politicians and bureaucrats have to escape our training, so do you. That’s courage.

Finally to the campaigning groups

I am sorry to be blunt, but for god’s sake, grow a spine.  The last thing this city needs is more fig leafs, more softly softly approaches.  You’ve been trying that for ten years, and what has it got you? Be honest and let the cards fall where they may.  Don’t collude and provide cover for awful anti-democratic process and pure waffle, as you have done.

And for god’s sake, sort out your meetings. They’re so boring and cliquy that thousands of people who want to be involved are repelled and never get involved.  That’s been going on for decades. Show the courage to innovate as much as you demand government and business innovate.

And don’t expect your political or business masters –  including me – to do anything meaningful about Manchester Airport’s expansion plans. I mean, seriously.

Too many of you make too little noise.  I know that under David Cameron a truly appalling piece of anti-democratic legislation, the 2014 Lobbying Act made it more difficult for you to speak out at elections. I am certain that when – not if – we get a Corbyn government, one of the first things that will happen is the repeal of that despicable act.  Jeremy has promised this.

I am almost done.  I will show the courage – though a cynic would call it cowardice –  to lower your expectations of me and of the Labour Party.

Firstly, I am human.  I get tired. I get confused. I get scared, especially when I think about the future of a climate changed world.   Actually, I get terrified.

Secondly, I am not Mayor of Greater Manchester in the same way my brilliant colleague Sadiq Khan is Mayor of London.  I do not have his budget, I do not have his legislative power. I have ‘soft power’, which I will wield as best I can. I can lead – that is what you pay me for after all, why you elected me – but I have much less power to actually REGULATE anything, or FUND anything, than I want or you want.

Finally, don’t wait for Saint Jeremy to save us all.  I will work as hard as I possibly can for a Labour victory at the next General Election, which cannot come soon enough.  But a Labour government in power will face huge opposition from small and large c conservative interests, in the British state, in the security state, in business and civil society.  And the Labour Party in power will be, as any government, a rat’s nest of competing factions.  And for many of those factions, climate change will not be priority one, for all the fine words.

So a Labour government is one small necessary step. What we require now and forever, is courage. Courage to challenge our elected leaders and our unelected ones. Courage to innovate,  admit failure and learn from it, learn to do it better next time.

And finally, this . Some of you know that I came – late, but I came – to support the incredibly brave people who fought for justice for the 96 who died needlessly at Hillsborough.  They faced years – actually, two decades – of being fobbed off, lied to, smeared, told justice had been done, justice was impossible.  They did not quit. They acted with unbelievable determination, unbelievable courage. That word again. If we want to achieve ANYTHING on climate change, beyond the usual bullshit, we need that determination, that courage.  So, most of all, this:

Be honest and display courage. Courage is contagious. It is the only hope we have.

Anyone lucky enough to have been selected (and srsly, what were the criteria?) to attend this wonderful wonderful summit, could possibly print this off and give him it to read out… Strictly for the lulz, as the young people say…

Posted in Greater Manchester | 1 Comment

11 questions about the Mayor’s Green Summit, from a reject… @AndyBurnhamGM

Dear Mayor Burnham,

The wait is finally over! I’ve been on tenterhooks for weeks about whether I’d get a ticket for the Mayor’s Green Summit on 21 March.  I am – and I am sure you sympathise – gutted not to not have received a place.  As the only person to have been reporting and blogging about Manchester’s climate policy since 2008, you’ll understand I am a bit confused. Anyway

I’ve got a few questions (it’s a tic of mine).  Actually, when I say “a few” I mean, well, eleven.

First  a- and other people who have not got tickets are asking the same question – what were your selection criteria?  What was the process?  There are people who know a LOT about the issues who are not on you golden ticket list.   People who would ask all sorts of experience-based questions about what progress has and hasn’t been made in the last few years.

In your letter to those who were selected you warn

“this invitation is non-transferable without prior agreement as we are attempting to achieve a balanced audience from different sectors. Entrance will be upon production of proof of identity only.”  (Emphasis in the original).

Second I am not quite sure how that works.  If, for example, who was the same gender and race and ‘sector’ (whatever that means) was willing to transfer their ticket to someone meeting those criteria, then wouldn’t “balance” be maintained?  Or is there actually a list of ‘awkward squad’ people you want to exclude?

Third In any case, who do people who want to get that “prior agreement” to transfer their invite speak to?  By when? What criteria are used to allow this.

Meanwhile in your letter to us rejects, you mentioned

“Your name will be kept on a waiting list and we will inform you if we are able to accommodate further places.”

Well, there are 600 people on that list it seems. So

Fourth: Can you please let me know WHERE I am on it?

Fifth Can you also confirm that if I turn up on the day in the expectation that a number of people won’t be coming, that I won’t be actively excluded?

In a presentation in January Mark Atherton explained that the venue capacity is 800, but that catering was only available for 400. So,

Six: Could you explain why, given the interest in the event, you didn’t simply create two categories,  “catered” and “uncatered”?  That would have enabled heaps of people who are perfectly capable of packing their own sandwiches to attend.  Or is there some issue about not trusting people to honour such an agreement?

The rest of my questions are about the ‘listening events’, which  seem not to have happened particularly early in the process (though I did go to one in December last year). Despite six months’notice, some are happening only three weeks before the summit itself, and AFTER registrations for the summit have closed (not quite sure how that works – people come along to those events, are told that the Summit registration process is already closed). Almost as if these listening events are an afterthought. Massive apologies if that seems unduly critical.

Seven:   all of the ten boroughs covered? Manchester has been, obvs. And Salford, Tameside, Trafford have single events which are all happening on Monday 26 February, a scant three weeks before the event itself

Eight: How many of the listening events were specifically designed with BME communities in mind?

Nine: How many of the listening events were specifically designed with young people in mind?

Ten: How many of the listening events were specifically designed with ‘hard to reach’ communities in mind (the illiterate, the poor, those with limited English language skills)? What OTHER means (besides filling in an online survey, which requires literacy, internet connection etc) were made?

Eleven: If you’ll forgive me quoting myself

I’d also like to know what specifically the social media strategy was – twitter, facebook, youtube.

I’d also like to know what the mainstream media strategy was.  Was a press release sent out, were individual journalists at the BBC and Manchester Evening News contacted?  Did stories in fact appear – if so, when?

 

Very best wishes and looking so forward so very much to the radical, transformative speeches and powerpoints at the Summit, and the charter which will tackle head on the question of endless economic growth on a finite planet, the meaninglessness of the term ‘zero-carbon’,  and the Airport’s emissions for 1001 ft upwards.

Yours sincerely

Marc Hudson

PS The above is a slightly modified version of a letter I put up online almost two weeks ago.

 

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