Update: End of the Environment Commission

With the Environment Commission well and truly buried, all eyes are now on the Low Carbon Hub which is tasked with delivering Greater Manchester’s Climate strategy

After a shock announcement that the Environment Commission is no more, MCFly got in touch with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) to find out why. An AGMA spokesperson informed us that since May 2012, when Dave Goddard -its first and only chair – lost his council seat in the local elections, the commission had lacked political leadership and had been under review.

The spokesperson added that leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, has now taken an interest and will incorporate the commission’s work into the Low Carbon Hub, if the proposed plans are accepted at this Friday’s AGMA/GMCA executive meeting.

The work of the EC will be “streamlined” into the Low Carbon Hub’s work and these changes were about “improving management.” The spokersperson added that the changes to the EC are not unique as all the 5 AGMA commissions are currently under review.

The Low Carbon Hub, which was announced in March 2012, is part of the ‘Deal for Cities’ for Manchester which included the Green Investment Bank initiative. The Deal for Cities is part of a Central Government strategy to encourage economic growth in cities. According to the AGMA report which will be presented this Friday, the Hub will have four primary aims:

• Realising the economic opportunities associated with transition to a low carbon economy;
• Supporting Greater Manchester’s 48% carbon reduction target by 2020;
• Increasing awareness and understanding leading to behavioural change; and
• Preparing Greater Manchester to adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change.

Richard Leese has been selected to chair the Low Carbon Hub Board with various members from the Environment Commissoin finding a place at the Hub. That includes the Cooperative Group, Roger Milburn from ARUP, Manchester Airport, Anne Selby from the Merseyside Wildlife Trust, Neil Swannick. The report also hinted that the implementation plan for the GM Climate Change Strategy, which the Environment Commission insisted would be published imminently, was nowhere near completion:

“The Low Carbon Hub offers the opportunity to jointly devise a climate change implementation plan for Greater Manchester aimed at setting a pathway towards achieving our 48% carbon reduction target by 2020… It is proposed that the Low Carbon Hub Board will be responsible, on behalf of the GMCA/AGMA Executive Board, for developing and putting in place the delivery arrangements for Greater Manchester’s Climate Change Strategy and other environmental priorities.”

MCFly says: As another organisation dies a quiet death and a shiny new one is launched, I can’t help but feel skeptical. For one, I am so report-weary at the moment and that is all that ever seems to come out of Greater Manchester when it comes to climate change. So until the Low Carbon Hub actually does something, I won’t be cheering them on from the sidelines.  Typically, the agenda item report also failed to admit that the EC has been something of a failure.  The writers of these reports seem either unwilling, or perhaps unable to look into how they could avoid making the same mistakes. In the absence of this reflection, what’s to prevent today’s Hub being replaced by a Commission in three years time?


About arwafreelance

Freelance journalist based in the UK with an interest in the Middle East, environmental issues, Islam-related topics and social issues such as regeneration.
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