0 – 7 = …1.8? #Manchester carbon maths failure. What should responsible citizens do?

mcmonthly August 2013page1If you think those numbers don’t add up, you’re not alone. Even Manchester City Council, which had tried to tell the public it had reduced carbon dioxide emissions, has conceded that their carbon emissions have actually increased. In a dramatic admission at Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 16th July, Nigel Murphy, the elected member for responsibility for climate change action admitted that the Council’s emissions have increased. Responding to a question based around Friends of the Earth’s submission to the committee, Councillor Murphy conceded that – contrary to a press release released by Manchester City Council – like-for-like carbon dioxide emissions from the City Council’s operations have gone up by 1.8% in the past year, and that the actual amount saved over the last three years is 5.2%, not the 14% initially claimed.
Executive Member Nigel Murphy responded to a question by Cllr James Hennigan by telling the assembled councillors and members of the public that he was willing to agree with Manchester Friends of the Earth’s analysis as long as it was noted that the Council has been sourcing its energy from “decarbonised sources.”
The Friends of the Earth submission, sent the previous night to the chair of the Committee included the immortal lines “Achieving the operational and cultural changes to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is clearly not a simple task and will require dedicated and continuous action. it will also require a commitment to transparent and meaningful progress reporting.”
It continued “We therefore call on the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee to request that the Annual Carbon Reduction Plan be amended to clearly state that there was a 1.8% increase in like-for-like emissions between 2011/2 and 2012/13, and that there has only been a 5.2% reduction in like-for-like emissions against the 2009/10 baseline.”
MCFly has over the last weeks repeatedly asked the City Council if the 2013/14 Annual Carbon Reduction Plan going to be redrafted to include more ambitious targets, so that the Council meets its “20% by 2014” reduction target. We have also asked “when did 2009/10 become the agreed baseline year for the Council’s emissions? In the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan, agreed by the Executive on November 17th 2009, goal one was a 41% reduction on carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 from a 2005 baseline.”
In its finest traditions of openness and accountability the City Council has, at time of going to press, given us no statement.
What is to be done?
You could give up – no-one would blame you, given the contempt that the City Council is (forever) spewing on you. Alternatively, turn to page 4 of the latest Manchester Climate Monthly for MCFly’s suggestion.


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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5 Responses to 0 – 7 = …1.8? #Manchester carbon maths failure. What should responsible citizens do?

  1. Mark Burton says:

    At first sight it is curious that emissions have increased despite continued reduction of council’s activity (i.e. cuts to services, jobs, buildings). However, a review of the Table in section 3.1 of the council report http://www.manchester.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/15385/7-manchester_city_council_s_annual_carbon_reduction_plan makes it clear that the main increase was a reslt of the prolonged cold weather. This dwarfs the other changes.
    But it would be helpful to provide an analysis that adjusts for weather factors so the trend can be understood more clearly. Similarly since traffic light emissions were a key part of the original carbon reduction plan (by moving to LEDs), it would be helpful to present the actual figures allowing proper calculation of the changes both net and gross of the contractual changes. The council should take some credit for any signalling emissions reductions, when and if it happens.
    Reading between the lines it appears that council officers flew to London – while a relatively small part of emissions this is shameful indeed. Similarly European flights are deemed ‘necessary’ because of contract obligations – fair enough but why not use the train (and don’t tell me it’s about cost – it is the ecological cost that matters)?

    • Sorry, reply talked past your points a bit, all of which were good ones. The question, imho, (as per next post to go up on MCFly), is what “we” DO in response to this failure by the Council to a) cut its emissions and b) come up with a credible plan for 2013/4, given that from next year they are switching to three year plans…

  2. So, if the Council wants to have our trust and respect, maybe it could just come out and say “yep, there was more cold weather than we thought.” Instead they insult everyone by trying to spin traffic lights as a saving. While the report itself tells the truth, the pre-amble, which is allegedly written so busy councillors can get an overview, is so disingenuous as to be, well, a pack of lies.
    They made no “traffic light” comparison of the actions promised in 2013 and what was actually delivered. On a trivial level, they DIDN’T install the LEDs they promised to in the Manchester Art Gallery. And the list could go on and on and on.
    How long do you continue giving an organisation the benefit of the doubt?

    Marc Hudson

  3. Councillors like Leese and Murphy state their energy is green and now Councilor Hennigan states it is from de-carbonised sources? They and no time, to my knowledge told any one who supplies their energy and exactly what the its make-up is. And how do you de-carbonise natural gas, have they installed Carbon Capture Technology nobody knows about? As Mark Burton points out, why are they flying any where and are these carbon emissions counted. As the council and AGMA seem to think accountability for emissions from aviation, finish outside the airports boundaries.

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