Steady-state economics will get a closer examination, in a significant and brave move announced today by Manchester City Council’s “Employment, Economy and Skills” oversight and scrutiny committee.
This follows a brief report on the topic to the committee last month. The shortness of that report inspired a group of Manchester-based campaigners and activists to sign an open letter to the 18 members of the committee. The letter [see illustration] offered to work with the councillors and officers to produce a longer and more thorough report for publication in the new year. This offer has now been accepted, and Manchester Climate Monthly will report on progress as it happens.
The committee has pointed to “limitations of applying it within the context of the local economy” but “have agreed to [the signatories’] offer, and look forward to having a more in-depth discussion at some point next year.”
How the work will be co-ordinated, and when the work will happen (some point next year could be January, or October!) are just two of the many questions that will need to be agreed.
There are risks in this for all concerned. In such difficult times, anti-green campaigners may choose to accuse the City Council of wasting valuable officer time on what they will characterise as “hippy dreaming”. The people who signed the open letter to the Council now have to “put up or shut up.” They have to find the time and energy to engage constructively with the nitty-gritty of local economic policy. They risk exhaustion, and the accusation from cynics and self-styled radicals of being “stooges and fig-leafs.”
Are these – and other – risks worth the possible benefits? In the opinion of Manchester Climate Monthly, yes. But we could be wrong.
Arwa Aburawa and Marc Hudson
[Disclaimer: Manchester Climate Monthly editor Marc Hudson drafted the open letter, circulated it and submitted it to the Council on behalf of the signatories.]