The IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report and implications for #Manchester (aka “Eleven Theses on futility, backed up with footnotes (1)”)

Today the latest “we are all doomed” climate report comes out. It is the latest in a long long (see below) line of such reports.  Climate activists will want to believe that this, at last will “wake up” everyone, from the sheeple to the world leaders who are supposed to be meeting in Glasgow in November.  “Surely,” they think to themselves, “THIS time, the message will get through.”

Yeah, sure.

Below are eleven theses on these sorts of reports, the state of the climate “movement” and a quarter-hearted attempt at addressing the ‘what is to be done’ question (perhaps best framed as ‘what was to be done?’ or ‘what could have been done?’.)

This rant stared out as a blog for Climate Emergency Manchester, but it gets a little ripe, a little beyond the “cynical but not TOO cynical” boundaries of what that small organisation is about,  so even the usual disclaimer of “Marc Hudson, writing in a personal capacity” would probably not render it publishable there. 

First Warning: contains hackneyed references to Groundhog Day, The Bourne Ultimatum and forced references to song lyrics, only some of which are linked.

Second warning: nothing you’ve not already read, if you’ve read much of me: I’m all outa love.

The Past (is always knocking incessant, trying to break through, into the present)

Thesis One: Groundhog Day again and again and again.

While there had been individual scientists speculating about carbon dioxide build-up, it wasn’t really until the mid-late 1950s that the topic got any sustained consideration. It then took until 1988 for the issue to properly break through onto the international agenda.  Since the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental (that word matters) Panel on Climate Change, in August 1990, some things have been constant/sharpening

  1. The scientific judgement that putting enormous quantities of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere (as a by-product of burning oil, coal and gas) was going to … trap more heat. Nothing in any of the subsequent reports (2nd in 1995/6; 3rd in 2000/1, 4th in 2007, 5th in 2013) has changed this basic judgement
  2. The effort put in by those who are making loads of money/gaining loads of power from burning oil, coal and gas into confusing everyone, and slowing progress towards doing anything that would cut into their profits.  The campaigns of delay, distraction, derailing, demoralisation have been PHENOMENALLY successful (I did a PhD on this, about Australia). But you don’t wanna read it. This short piece for the Conversation a while back may be enough for you though. IPCC: the dirty tricks climate scientists faced in three decades since first report
  3. The social movements, the one historical actor that might have been able to combat the capture of states, the capture of political parties, the capture of the media and the sclerosis of the unions, have failed fundamentally and comprehensively, for lack of imagination, courage, resources, and personnel.  While they were always going to be outnumbered and outgunned, they’ve also shot themselves in the foot so many times, by pursuing a model of constant mobilisation instead of movement-building. They don’t have a leg to stand on.

Btw, it Phil Connors had NOT learnt from previous experience, well, the movie would have been a tragedy. Kinda like what we are living through.

Thesis two: You can learn from history but still be condemned to repeat it.

Santayana was right, as was Baldwin (“not everything that can be faced can be changed…”). However, that doesn’t mean the truth alone will set you free (2). This isn’t about tactics, it’s not even about strategy, it’s about logistics (see DeLanda, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, etc). And the good guys are getting their asses kicked.

The Present

Thesis three: The media will not tell you the truth

Not because George Soros has implanted everyone with COVID-y microchips, or because the Bill Gates’ 5G mind-control waves, or (personal favourite Jewish Space Lasers, or any such.  Just read Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, and Chomsky’s Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. Also the MediaLens stuff.  This is structural, institutional. Sure, there are bad faith actors, botnets, troll farms, (on this, Ben Elton’s Identity Crisis is not terrible, btw) etc. But this is not a “conspiracy”. It’s all relatively well-understood, and relatively easily understandable.

I listened to an entirely intelligent interviewer on Radio National this morning, interviewing an entirely intelligent, hard-working and sincere scientist.  Maybe after I switched off near the end (my blood pressure couldn’t take it) they mentioned the thirty years of policy failure, of enacted inertia, but you know, somehow I kinda doubt it.  We live in a perpetual present, where every morning the song on the radio is “I got you, babe.”  Time to pay the fucking rent.

If you want to have any idea what is going on, you’re gonna have to do some work. Guardian articles don’t count as work. This work is… work. And many hands – the right hands – might make light(er) work. Study circles could be a thing, but won’t be, because they’re too much like hard work…

Thesis four: The Clues are in the names (3) and the numbers

Anyway, three things here.

InterGOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change

In the mid-1980s the US Department of State, under George Schulz, felt it had been bounced into signing onto an international treaty around ozone-depleting chemicals (CFCs) because of the strength of independent scientific advice. They could see the same thing might play out with climate change and greenhouse gases, and took the right steps to make sure that instead of an international panel on climate change, we got an intergovernmental one.  The summaries for policy-makers (the only things that get read, that “matter” are therefore subject to control, can be watered down.

This is NOT a critique of the countless scientists who work with diligence and professionalism to produce the best information. It’s simply to say, as they say in The Wire, “The Game is rigged, y’all.”

SIXTH Assessment Report

As above this is the IPCC’s SIXTH assessment report. Do you really think this matters?  Do you really think that anyone is going to move from their position?  They know which side their bread is buttered on. They would have to admit that they’d been wrong on the most important issue of all human time. Do you really think that any of our current political class (or any previous political class, for that matter) have the intellectual and emotional courage to do such a thing? Really?  And that goes from the loftiest tosser striding the international stage down to the most “humble” councillor. Not gonna happen, old chap.

COP 26

As I’ve written elsewhere, the clue is in the name, twice.  The November festivities will be a grotesque farce, as were the ones in Paris, Copenhagen, Kyoto and Rio. 

See CEM’s position here.

Thesis five: The climate models are right, the information deficit model is wrong.

The climate models have gotten better (they were not, despite what the denialists want you to believe, at all bad to begin with). They are getting better at regional stuff. They’re calibrated better.  But they can still be wrong, still not ‘get’ so-called “non-linear” events (ask me another time about the bias hidden in the term ‘non-linear’). 
Meanwhile, the “information deficit model” that dominates climate campaigning persists. Why? Because it offers those middle-class people who dominate climate campaigning the soothing sense of being in school (something they by and large liked) only, this time, now, they are the teacher, handing out demerits and detentions.  They are the person who knows, filling the heads of others.  Sure, it doesn’t “work” to build the movement that they keep flapping their jaws about, but that’s a minor consideration. What matters, right here, right now, is that they can turn attendees into an audience and then into ego-fodder. Nom nom nom.

[See here about the emotional dynamics of ego-fodder].

Thesis six: What two cartoonists and the Swedish dude said.

Two cartoons.

OZED130928.jpg
Jon Kudelka, a genius.

and

Justin Bilicki, also a genius.

Lindqvist – “You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions” from “Exterminate All the Brutes”: One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide”. We also lack the courage to innovate beyond the stale formats which give us sustenance and succour. So it goes.

The Future (I’ve seen the future baby, it is murder)

Thesis seven: Here comes the age of consequences

The atmospheric build-up of carbon dioxide and methane will, pretty soon, accelerate. (This is just a hunch/educated guess. No, I’m not going all Guy fucking Macpherson on you.  I am pointing out that human emissions of greenhouse gases have always been relatively minor as a part of the overall release (a fact pointed to with delight by the denialists) but that is not necessarily going to hold for much longer, because

  1. emissions will climb sharply in the economic growth to follow the COVID lockdowns and downturns (all that pent up demand)
  2. sinks will fail (oceans and stuff already at about as much as they can absorb – you can’t dry a floor with a soaking wet towel)
  3. some sinks (looking at you, Amazon) will become proper sources – you don’t need to disasturbate about clathrate triggers to see that as a thing.

All this means that, as far as the heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere go, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.

It means, I suspect, that matters will be taken out of our hands. The time to slam on the brakes was BEFORE the bus went off the cliff.

Thesis eight: Young ‘uns, “You have no idea what you are into here.”

I think about my parents, and myself, and I think we’re all going to be dead before the shit properly properly hits the fan (while not denying that the shit IS hitting the fan, has been hitting the fan for many other species, and many other – mostly people of colour – members of our own species. It’s not as if everything was peachy-keen before 1988).

I think about young people, who want to believe they’ve got long rich lives ahead of them, with a stable climate system underneath it.  And I think of that line near the beginning of the Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne tells a journalist “you have no idea what you are into here.”

The intergenerational injustice (leaving aside intragenerational justice, and interspecies justice – as if that were ever a thing – is staggering).

Thesis nine: As other neoliberal cities fixated on the spatial fix, Manchester will continue on its merry way, at least in the short-term.

Manchester City Council will successfully create the impression of a rainbow coalition of concerned citizens and proactive council/councillors, with various motherhood and apple pie promises, some carefully chosen photogenic moppets and muppets-who-should-know-better (See previous rant about how this strategy will “work” here).  Desperate terrified people will hold hands, sing kumbaya, get beyond Glasgow and then it will all just die off in the hands of fundamentally useless consultants who wouldn’t know a viable community programme if it bit them on their fat white asses. The Labour Group will continue to bow down before its gerontocratic leadership, conflating loyalty to party with loyalty to the city and its citizens present and future.  At some point there will be a change in personnel, but not in what passes for “thought” at the top.

The activists will engage in various ritualistic behaviours that they have done so many many times before, rituals that have soothed them while/by signalling their virtue. Engaging in these rituals has never and will not on this occasion appreciably increase the capacity to act of either themselves and their own “organisations” or – worse – anyone else’s capacity to act.  They will then proclaim themselves exhausted/burnout, but will resurrect themselves the next opportunity for virtue signalling. The emotacycle will continue, with its subroutines of ego-foddering. The smugosphere needs that sense of momentum. Get on the bus, or go under the wheels. Those are the choices…

Thesis ten: This rant will sink without trace, rather like the IPCC reports

Predictable responses to this will be threefold.

 “Snooze. More disasturbation. It’s not that bad.”

My reply: Fine, whatever you need to tell yourself. Have a nice Anthropocene.

“You’re saying ‘give up’, and you should check your white male middle-class privilege.”

My reply: Yeah, whatevs. I am saying that if we keep doing what we have been doing, chances are we are going to get the same appalling ‘result.’ Rather than engage with that, you’re finding, as you so often do, the easy way out that renders you virtuous and everyone else wrong.  Funny thing is,  you and I both want a different outcome from what we’ve been getting for the last 33 years on climate campaigning, but I am the only one saying we have to think about doing things DIFFERENTLY. You’re just wanting more meetings of the mice at which they all agree the cat should wear a bell.  One more push/rebellion/march/camp and we will be there, comrade!   I can’t be bothered to hide my contempt for that, and now you’re all butt-hurt about it.

“You never say what else should be done.”

My reply: yes, I do. And I have also tried to DO what else should be done. But you choose not to see, not to engage, because it would threaten your cosy grift.

Thesis eleven: What is was to be done? (“Scientists and activists have always complained about the world. The point is was to change it”.)

Tl:dr –  Gee, maybe we could innovate. Still gonna lose, obvs, but at least then we could hold our heads up.

  • Cocker Protocol and in the leftover time, auditing current skills, knowledge, relationships and situation
  • Cocker Protocol and in the leftover time, developing/enacting a plan to build skills, knowledge and relationships of your group so it is fit for purpose (this includes emotional resilience)
  • Cocker Protocol and in the leftover time, developing/enacting a plan to connect with and work with other groups that have built their skills, knowledge and relationships so that they have become fit for purpose
  • Cocker Protocol and in the leftover time, refusing to collude in the broader bullshit of information deficit model, of ego-foddering and other pathologies (public meeting syndrome etc), the emotacycle, the smugosphere. Sadly, refusing to collude basically means having to demonstrate that things can be done differently and I am not sure I can be bothered anymore. So it goes.
  • Cocker Protocol and… (checks notes)… that’s it. It’s turtles and the Cocker Protocol all the way down.

Footnotes

(1) Maybe not. Don’t know if can be particularly bothered.

(2) Fun fact – I remember the novelisation of Doctor Who and the Terror of the Zygons (the book was called Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster) which I read when I was, boff, eight or possibly nine). The Doctor learns of the “baddies’” plan and is happy, while his companion, Sarah then points out that there’s a gap between knowing what your opponent is planning and actually being able to stop them.  I know, I know, I should get help. Shouldn’t we all.

(3) I remember being in the States in 1991 when Clarence Thomas was being nominated to the Supreme Court, and someone (I think not me, but it might have been) said that the clue was in the name.

Posted in Unsolicited advice | 5 Comments

Manchester City Council’s latest climate change strategy will work.

It will work. What Manchester City Council is planning to do about its climate problem in the coming months will work.

If you’re surprised at that statement, well, keep reading.

It will NOT work to surface the failures around the creation of a low carbon culture (promised in 2009 for the year 2020.)

It will NOT work to get us anywhere near the carbon budget that was set with great fanfare in late 2018, and are missing.

It will NOT work to put some (any) oomph into all those actions the Council was supposed to be doing around the unanimous “Climate Emergency Declaration” of July 2019. (see Climate Emergency Manchester’s various ‘Hung Drawn and Quarterly reports)/

It will NOT be work to create a broad, diverse, radical movement of citizens willing and able to work with and beyond the council to force it and other organisations to work for the greater good, for future generations.

All these are things are needed, but none of them is on the agenda of the organisers. It’s not their skill set, it’s not their interest, or in their interests as they perceive them.


But this series of events will work…

It will work to distract newly-concerned citizens from past awkward failures, budget blow outs, broken promises, and stop them from understanding what is actually going on, or making real connections with anyone.

It will work to soak up the time, energy and hope of individuals and groups in the dangerous lead up to Glasgow, where people might be curious and asking “so, have we got this under any kind of control?”

It will work to produce yet another glossy document full of vague motherhood-and-apple-pie promises, illustrated with childish cartoons, disingenuous pie-charts and carefully curated photos that give the image of ethnically diverse action.

The Potemkin Village of climate action, something this Council excels at.

Some of the people behind this latest farce know the history.  They are choosing to ignore it, to refuse to learn from it.  They are determined to keep us in an endless loop of promising, promising.

And others, sniffing proximity to “power” or sham relevance, will go along with it, because they lack self-respect, because they are so desperate to suck on the hopium pipe again.

These events will serve as the perfect excuse not to hold an actual stakeholder conference (see below) or even look at the failure (again) to meet the carbon budget targets.

“We’re focussed on the future.”  “Glasgow is so important.” “Must come together.” “Need to avoid negativity.”

Organisations like Tyndall are still lending their (fading) credibility to shams like this. What will they do when Manchester follows Liverpool and starts sniffing around Negative Emissions Technologies to make the numbers add up? Will they have the spine to pull the plug on the mutually beneficial relationship, which is ostensibly about “effectiveness.” On that, see this –

Oh, and this is NOT the first community event.  Even setting aside all the now-forgotten work around the Manchester Environment Forum (1991-1994), the Manchester Global Forum and the Local Agenda 21 process (1994-1997) there was, in November 2010 the first Manchester Stakeholder Conference.
That would be 12 years ago (see Manchester Mule).

This was supposed to hold an annual day-long conference so that new connections could be made, progress (or lack of it) assessed.  There were supposed to be annual elections to the Stakeholder Steering Group.

The group was so fucking inept, so laughably “led” that it couldn’t even stage a conference in 2011, the crucial year to maintain some momentum.  Half-witted half-day “conferences” – laughably poorly designed and executed – were staged in 2012 and 2013.  The farce was unilaterally killed off in 2014. The “Stakeholder Steering Group” was then killed off and replaced by the enormously expensive and useless Climate Change “Agency” (not actually an agency) in 2015. 

We are just so fucked.

We are just so incapable of creating a broad-based resistance to the spin, the lies, the direct contradictions to the very conditions of our future selves’ survival.  We will be cursed bitterly by the young of today and tomorrow, when they figure out that this was not a problem of information, or access.  It isn’t. It’s a problem of courage (intellectual, emotional, political) and intelligence to act on what is patently obvious.  These horrors – the pending ecological debacle, and our willingness to collude in doing nothing about it – are the two principal reasons I had a vasectomy in 2004.

There are things we could do.  We won’t do them.

We are just so fucked.

Posted in Manchester City Council | 1 Comment

Does #Manchester City Council have any policy against ever-bigger cars? Let’s find out…

Dear Sir/Madam,
I recently read that parking bays are being widened to encourage, sorry “accommodate” ever-larger metal wombs on wheels 

A quick google search finds that this happened in 2016 in Manchester.

So, I have two questions

1.  From 2016 to 2020, when NCP controlled the car parks, was there any attempt by Manchester City Council to stop them widening their bays. If so, please provide correspondence

2. Control of car parking is now back in-house. Does Manchester City Council have any policy in place around not widening any more bays to encourage,sorry, “accommodate” ever-larger vehicles.

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

Dr Marc Hudson

[address supplied]

Posted in Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Letter: In the year 2025… #takingcredit #Manchester #climate

ZERO carbon is easy if someone else is doing the heavy lifting. Your report “Zero-carbon” grid (M.E.N. 15th June) has the National Grid Electricity Systems Operator saying that by 2025 there will be times when there are no fossil fuels being used.

In 2025 Manchester City Council, with Richard Leese by then in his 29th year at the helm, will doubtless count the reductions in emissions as their own, as if they’d lifted a finger.

Simultaneously,, they’ll keep trying to flog every stray blade of grass to developers, and build more high-carbon skyscrapers and car parks, while signing any (non-binding) charter, pledge or aspirational target that is put in front of them.

Nature is not fooled. There are consequences, coming at us.

Dr Marc Hudson

Editor Manchester Climate Monthly

Posted in Manchester City Council | 1 Comment

Yes, but WHY the lack of #climate scrutiny? Or “the veto and what to do about it” #Manchester

My friend and colleague Chloe Jeffries has written a customarily brilliant blog post on the CEM website that explains what is not being discussed. but doesn’t actually answer the question “Why is there so little mention of the climate emergency in Manchester’s scrutiny committee work programmes?”

So I, in a personal capacity, (not as a core group member of CEM), am I’m going to offer an answer to the why question.

I think there are three words, hubris, obedience, and what links them is … fear.

Before we get there though, the first thing is to distinguish between the Council as a whole and those who actually run it. There are 96 Councillors, duly elected and a senior management team. It’s not as if they held a secret meeting, exhaustively mulled over the question “how should we respond to popular pressure for more scrutiny of climate decision-making and action?” and came to a reasoned and democratic decision to ignore it. That’s not how this works. What you have is a (very) small number of people who are currently able to exercise a veto against proposals for more scrutiny (and action) (1).

To understand what I’m talking about, you have to understand that in Manchester since 1996, we have one individual, Richard Leese who has been in charge and basically uncontested throughout (bar having to step aside briefly in 2010). Leese’s vision and modus operandi rule, and he is surrounded with flunkies and toadies, eyeing the chalice and circling the wagons (several metaphors were harmed in production of this blog post).

And his entire business model, if you want to call it that, is based on business, big business. It is not based on small and medium enterprises, it is based on attracting big business.

There has been, since 1990 a constant stream of sustainability and climate pronouncements, pledges, aspirational goals. But climate “policy” exists in Manchester insofar – and only insofar – as it’s part of the international marketing strategy. Above all else, Manchester must be “fit” for inward investment. Academics call this the “sustainability fix.”

Hubris

The hubris comes from Leese’s belief that like King Canute, he can hold back the tide. And you know what, he probably can, either for another few months, or even God help us for another four years (2). Leese’s actions indicate someone who believes that popular agitation for scrutiny and action don’t matter. It seems that he believes that he will suffer no reputational or more importantly, electoral consequences for continuing to do what he has done for the last 10-12 years, which is to bullshit, in the words of Hayley Stevenson..

And you know, he’s probably right. He’s an astute politician. He’s probably right. He should be wrong. If we lived in a better world he would be. You and I don’t live in that world.

Obedience

There are 95 other councillors: 1 Green, 1 Lib Dem and… 93 other Labour councillors, most of whom signed the emergency declaration in July 2019 (a handful were elected later). And most of those have since then, barely lifted a finger. And even those who have done something have not been treating this as an emergency.

And emergency is when you act like a scalded cat: nobody is acting like a scalded cat. So what are the different reasons? Could it be that some of them are really not bright enough to understand what the word emergency is? It has, maybe, too too many syllables for them?

Others are ambitious and know that if they step out of line, Richard will squash them like a bug. He’s done it before. And even now, in the (deep?) twilight of his career, he has that power.

And in between, you’ve got the ones who are well-meaning but feel now it’s not the right time, or they feel some visceral, weird, visceral loyalty to the tribe.

The reasons vary, but obedience is the final common pathway, as they say in the pathology business…

Cowards flinch, traitors sneer…

Fear

Besides the career-fear of the councillors (few of whom want to be known as awkward squad/disloyal/overly free-thinking), I think the fear is of what the legacy will be. If the assessment starts now, if people start looking at the actual carbon reductions (the Council’s are down to austerity, the city’s – such as they are – are due to the demise of coal as a power source), then not only might the Manchester model come under challenge, but the legacy will be tarnished. Those who created the conditions for the property boom, the prosperity for a few, don’t want to be remembered as the people who did nothing but spin on climate change. They do not want to be cursed by future generations. They want to keep writing the happy narrative.

So where we are right now – that Gramsci quote about morbid symptoms

No one’s willing to stand up to Richard and say, “mate, you’re yesterday’s man. Time to go.” Those with the powerful enough voice to do it are waiting for someone else to say it, because they know that – as per Heseltine – he who wields the knife seldom wears the crown.

So the impasse continues

Blatantly deliberate, deliberately blatant

The decision to prevent ANY scrutiny of climate needs to be seen in the broader context. It needs to be seen as another example of the (ab)use of absolute power. It’s a sequel (body count higher, deaths more elaborate) to Robert Nunney (new Green Councillor) being kept not just from Environment and Climate Scrutiny Committee, but his next two committees choices as well.

This is the same thing, a willingness to be brazen, to block everything that would add to scrutiny and dissident voices. In fact, it’s more than just brazen, it’s gleeful, revelling in power (while/perhaps because knowing it is much nearer its end than its beginning). It’s the equivalent of saying “yeah, of course we are screwing you. Because we can. Don’t like it? Get/stay used to it. Bwahahahahaha.”

My impression is that even if the work programmes of the Scrutiny Committees had been discussed in public (as they should have been), this would still be the case…

What is to be done?

While this horrific, contemptuous and contemptible veto is enraging, it’s also a sign to those that have worked so hard on getting better scrutiny (waves at CEM colleagues and allies) that they can be encouraged, even flattered.  Those in charge are having to exercise this power nakedly now, because they know any concessions, any half-measures will weaken them further.  Gone are the days of accommodation – they don’t feel safe enough to offer any olive branches any more… That’s something.

Elsewhere I’ve tried to talk about how we need to de-personalise this, to see it not as a case of one individual, but an ideology, folk wisdom now baked into the party and the bureaucracy. Despite everything I’ve done above…

We need to depersonalise this.

We need to think of this in terms of motivations rather than individual failings (though they are manifold and manifest). And the motivation is to protect a particular ideology, order of business (in every sense) and track record from scrutiny or challenge.

We need to think of this as a currently-successful veto being exercised by a small number of people. The motivations for that veto will persist, even when the personnel change, because the new personnel will be largely/equally wedded to the business-as-usual model.

What do we do? What we’ve always done: tell the truth, not because it will set us free. Not because it matters but because it’s the right thing.

But we have to do some serious stratgesing about raising the cost of exercising the veto, weakening the power of those who exercise the veto and strengthening (broadening, deepening) the size of the coalition(s) that understand the veto, its reasons, its weaknesses.

This is more than information-deficit model. This is more than tugging at the sleeves of a few councillors and begging them to be bolder or louder.

I do have some specific practical and implementable (I think) proposals for the coming months (and years), but I want to discuss them with folks first…

Meanwhile, remember –

  • There are veto actors.
  • They are protecting (as they see it) their power and their legacy.
  • The motivations for the veto are not hard to understand
  • These motivations will persist.
  • We need to act smart.

Footnote

(1) In some ways Manchester is like Australia – a large amount of agitation for better climate/environment policy, but a small self-interested group able to block any meaningful action. Fun times.

(2) Leese is up for re-election next year as a councillor in Crumpsall. So we might know in September, if he’s intending to stand down (but that would render him a lame duck). But of course, he could always call a last-minute resignation the day before election candidates are announced. This would not endear him to his Labour colleagues, of course… Alternatively, he may in fact, stand for reelection and serve (at least) another four years, or resign a year or two in. Speculation is as easy as it is pointless.

Posted in Manchester City Council, The Veto | Leave a comment

Carbon Literacy – 14 sessions, not a single elected member shows up…


Yes, I know, there were elections. I know because I am a member of Climate Emergency Manchester and we were flat out trying to get candidates to say yea or nay to some simple climate commitments.

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council was running carbon literacy sessions. And not one of the more than-half-of-the-96 Councillors who have not yet started or finished their carbon literacy training could be bothered to show up. These are the Councillors who in July 2019 voted to declare a climate emergency, which included the statement that all 96 would have done their carbon literacy training by the end of 2020.

Oh, and the Council STILL isn’t planning to have a simple online register of which councillors are and are not carbon literate.

Because reasons.

That FOIA in full

Between 1st March 2021 and 21st April 2021
1. How many carbon literacy training sessions took place? How many staff and elected members attended each of them?

14 sessions took place, 123 staff attended with no elected members.


2. Did any sessions get cancelled? If so, why?

2 (Session 1 and session 2) merged the sessions with another planned one to do a bigger session


3. And again, that hardy perennial – “Is it still the case that, despite it being suggested repeatedly, and it being one way to a) save money and b) create trust, there is no plan to have an online register of which councillors have completed their training?

There are still no plans to have an online register, listing which councillors have completed the carbon literacy training.

Posted in carbon literacy training | Leave a comment

“Affordable” as the new “sustainable” – words mean whatever the powerful want them to mean.

I just sent this letter to the Manchester Evening News. If they publish it, I will add a photo of it in t’paper.

Update – they published it! 4th June 2021…

WE live in Alice’s wonderland, where our lords and masters tell us six impossible things before breakfast and expect us to believe them.I was at the first meeting of the new Manchester Council Executive today (once I could get into the locked Public Gallery). 

I heard Pat Karney say that Manchester City Council had a record on delivery of affordable housing that it could be proud of. I heard other Councillors making ritual incantations of this word “affordable.”

It seems “affordable” is going to be the new “sustainable” – a vague feel-good buzzword that is never defined and used to block both scrutiny and real action. Your report Steve Robson wrote about the Ancoats (“Council’s new ‘affordable’ apartments in Ancoats could cost up to £1,000 a month,” 29 May.) Humpty Dumpty would be proud.

For readers who don’t remember the classic exchange between him and Alice, here it is – “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Dr Marc Hudson
editor Manchester Climate Monthly

Posted in Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

Why the enormous rhetoric-reality gap for #Manchester City Council on #climate? 1987 as the pivotal year… (video)

This video is rough as a badger’s arse. There will be a slicker version.

Comments very welcome…

Posted in academia, youtubes | 1 Comment

Letter in MEN (truncated) Council and #climate leadership

Letter in MEN

We got none of that. The Council simply did more of the same drivel. It’s just thrown 50 thousand more pounds at consultants to do work its own bureaucrats had promised to do years previously.In September, the latest carbon emissions figures will come out. The target is a 13% reduction, but even with the COVID lockdown, the city will be nowhere near that. 

IN her letter (Viewpoints, 31st May) Margaret Brown asks exactly the right questions about life after lockdown, when she advises that we “to look at the wider picture we should think about what matters and what does not. Is a return to ‘normal’ desirable?”

Since 2018, when it announced its goal “city to be zero carbon by 2038” Manchester City Council has by and large continued with business-as-usual. It has hidden behind weasel words like “partnership” as an excuse for continuing to avoid leadership.  Last July it had to admit that a quarter of the carbon budget for the rest of the 21st century had been blown in just two years.

Real leadership would have involved emergency meetings about this, and then lots of real action.

In any case, as Ms Brown points out, there will be a bounce back in high-carbon activity, with the following year probably showing an increase in emissions.Without regular, detailed, relentless pressure from councillors and citizens, the dreadful failures of the last decade(s) will continue. Future generations will curse us.

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In essence: “No, because that would discriminate against the Labour councillors who are drooling morons.”

With my Manchester Climate Monthly hat on:

The group I am part of, Climate Emergency Manchester, did its best during the election campaign to get candidates to say yes or no to three simple climate pledges

Most Labour candidates studiously ignored CEM (and again, am writing in a personal capacity here) on Twitter, and ignored the registered post letters we sent. Some are beginning to Tweet about green stuff again.

One Labour candidate said no to all three.

A bunch of Labour candidates said yes to all three.

A couple of said yes to numbers two and three but no to number one because it couldn’t be implemented. This was, of course, bullshit, but not completely laughable (If you can’t even get your own councillors and officers to tell the truth about something as simple as this, why do you think it’s credible to promise a “zero-carbon by 2038” city? Srsly.

But today, there was a new wrinkle. A re-elected Labour councillor was asked about the first commitment. Their scarcely believable answers was in essence that, to paraphrase, it would exclude elected members from engaging in discussions about progress on the city’s carbon budget because many of them are unfamiliar with the technical language, metrics etc used to measure emissions. Basically it would be counter-productive because council members would be “afraid to get things wrong” and which would prevent them from engaging in meetings…

Deep breath. Deeeeep breeaaaathhh… And breeaaathe….

Ah, fuck it.

Seriously. If you as so dumb that you cannot understand

a) the concept of a budget (a carbon budget is no different from a household budget, a calorie diet ) and

b) that this budgetis being used up too quickly,

then (shouting again)

HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO GET SELECTED AS A LABOUR CANDIDATE?  Oh, I forgot, they like drooling morons because they are more obedient.

The councillor is flailing around for plausible sounding excuses, but failing in their flailing. What the councillor is saying, in essence, is “no, we should be allowed to spout convenient talking points and aspirational bollocks without fear of having to have those compared with grim reality. Anything else would be an infringement on our human rights to be drooling morons who do whatever we are told because we like it that way and/or it is good for our careers.”

We’re totally toast.

Posted in Manchester City Council | Leave a comment