Event Report: Manchester Day Parade, or “The Sky Has Limits” #mcrday

MCFly co-editor Marc Hudson searches the Manchester Day Parade for mention of climate change, vainly. And tacks a little gratuitious pop anthropology on the end. Why? For the lulz.

Who today speaks of climate change? Nobody, it seems. I’ve read the 12 page pullout in Friday’s Manchester Evening News. Not a dicky bird, just stuff about metal birds (see below).

I went to the event itself. The closest we got to an acknowledgement that the species is heading for some very very interesting times is the float of a private engineering company. The MEN pullout says “Siemens’ vision for a better world is embodied in their pyramid of people, reaching for the skies in their efforts to find solutions to some of the most challenging global problems…” And there are lots of nice warm words, but no “climate” or “profit motive” or “Jevons Paradox” or anything that would spoil the mood.

There was also another float on a similar theme – the (unintentionally) semi-nightmarish vision of futuristic skyscrapers sitting atop a mat of greenery and carried along by workers with cogs in their helmets. It’s the work of East Manchester Academy, with support from Lend Lease and Laing O’Rourke. It’s as if it’s been designed James “second contradiction of capitalism” O’Connor after he had watched Fritz Lang’s Metropolis on a continuous loop while tripping on bad acid.

Then there’s the Concorde, and the rather sinister air hostess (see below), but I am beginning to digress…

My point is this; Civic boosterism is what Manchester does very very well. What I want to know is how the complete and utter silence about climate change in this parade contributes towards the second goal of the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan, agreed in November 2009. You know, the second goal that you hear sooo much about these days (1) from the Council and its stab-vest known as “the Steering Group”. This one;

To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low-carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city.

I’m not being funny, but I really really don’t think we are going to get there if we keep staging events like today’s.

What needs to happen is this; Richard, Pat, Nigel, Steve and some other people will have to sit down together. And Richard will have to scratch his head, clear his throat, and say;

“Hmm. This climate change thing. Putting the Council to one side for a minute, as a city we simply cannot go on pretending that we are on the way to hitting any of those pesky targets we set for ourselves in 2009… We’re gonna have to make it mandatory for all sponsors and participating organisations in next year’s parade to both endorse the Climate Change Action Plan AND produce their own implementation plan. And the two goals of the Action Plan will have to go in all the publicity(2). And we will have to name and shame organisations that don’t sign up.”

And one of the others could perhaps pitch in with “Great idea, Rich! And maybe we could re-use all the banners from this year, with a little change from “The Sky’s the Limit” to “The sky is limited.” We could dump the ‘heroic achievements’ tagline for ‘from carbon literacy to carbon capability.‘”

Don’t go holding your breath.

Marc Hudson, who understands that talking about climate change is not conducive to the “no limits” sort of mood that the current model of ‘prosperity’ relies on (inward investment, sustainability fix, blah blah blah) but thinks that sooner or later we are going to have to stop pretending that technology will solve all our problems.And who wants to emphasise that he respects the huge amount of work that many people did, especially the volunteers, to make this event happen. 


(1) The Council has form when it comes to ignoring its own Action Plan.

(2) Oh, and the Manchester Evening News could check its editorials and see if it might want to reprint the one from 2006 “Going Green must be our top priority.”  We’ve totally helpfully scanned it here.

Cargo cult, much?
OK, disclaimers first. I am not beating up on the kids who put the work into the paper-mache Concorde. I’m not even beating up on the people who put voluntary labour into the thing.  But really – we should celebrate a state-run vanity project that kept the aerospace industry going while shaving a few hours of celebrities’ time-budgets and burning gazillions of tonnes of carbon dioxide at 60,000ft?  Really?  The creation of imitations of technological wonders that have gone and won’t come back; isn’t that something we laugh at “primitive savages” for doing?  No, wait…

And while I am busy making friends. What’s with that thing on the publicity for the parade?  It has a green coating, but if you look closely at where it gets its energy, it’s all red and fangy. Big eyes looking everywhere for enemies and snacks, and tentacles reaching out to devour anything it can get hold of. But enough about Manchester City Council – clock the weird shapeless thing!

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Aviation, Business, Climate Change Action Plan, education, Manchester City Council and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Event Report: Manchester Day Parade, or “The Sky Has Limits” #mcrday

  1. It was just more of ‘The Emperor’s Clothes’. I was talking to a MMU student last night, the conversation initially being about Indonesia and North Borneo, Orang-utans and Palm Oil plantations. But we did briefly discuss MMU’s so-called ‘Green’ credentails. The young person thought the MMU was a joke and they, like MCC, were doing the exact opposite they say they are doing. What little they have done, is pure ‘tokenism’, ‘greenwash’.

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