Open letter prompts council decision to produce a report looking into the implications of various sustainable economic strategies for Manchester
16 November: Manchester City Council has vowed to work together with environmental campaigners, academics and organisations to produce a report looking into sustainable economic strategies for Manchester. The decision was made at the council’s Economy, Employment and Skills Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting that took place this morning.
It follows a commitment made by Manchester City Council’s Green City Team to produce a report on a steady state economy (SSE) for Manchester back in November 2010. The commitment was later downscaled to a ‘summary of the research on a steady state economy’ and the council produced a two and half-page summary this week.
The open letter, which was drafted by MCFly’s co-editor Marc Hudson, and signed by various green groups and campaigners, welcomed the summary but remarked that it was “not as comprehensive as some may have hoped.” The signatories added that issues raised in the report such as Manchester’s long-term prosperity, social justice and achieving its carbon reductions would benefit from further exploration. Signatories also offered to support the council in writing a more extensive report:
“We would very much like to work with the Council, and other stakeholders, to produce an extended report by the middle of 2012 that examines the issues more thoroughly and articulates a strategy to handle the tensions between sustainability and the council’s economic strategy.”
Presenting the council’s summary on the steady state economy today, Steve Turner noted that whilst they realised the need to exploit natural resource more efficiently, doing that in a strictly sustainable way which meant zero growth wouldn’t work for Manchester. He added that embracing a steady state economy would isolate Manchester and that any move towards a SSE would have to be part of a slow transition.
Committee member Kate Chappell, (Rusholme ward), put forward a recommendation that the offer of support is used to explore other, more practical, environmental economic strategies. This was accepted by the committee, who acknowledged the need to compare and contrast various green economies that take into consideration social equity and fairness.
Richard Leese, leader of the council, was at the meeting and noted that although the report was brief that it was still useful. Leese pointed out that Manchester as well as Greater Manchester is currently working on producing a model which maps the cities total carbon footprint, which would give them a better understanding of their total carbon emissions and how they could be reduced.
Leese was also keen to point out that when it comes to the economy it’s an issue of balance- so any industry with high consumption needs to be balanced off so that the “net impact is green”.
The chair of the committee, Coun Joanne Green, (Harpurhey ward) noted the offer of partnership work and asked that a more rounded report looking at various sustainable economic strategies be prepared and presented to the committee in the new year. She also noted that a meeting focusing entirely on the issues of sustainability and the green economy would be useful as there was clear interest in the issue amongst members of the committee.
: Manchester City Council’s briefing on the steady state economy (pdf download)
: Open letter offering partnership work to produce a more comprehensive report on a steady state economy (pdf download)