Interview with Gavin Elliott, Chair of #Manchester #climate Steering Group

Here’s the full interview. It’s worth watching – or at least listening to – the whole lot; there’s refreshing candour and clarity in it. If I were being all tabloid and combative (quoi, moi?) there’d be a splash about the death of the Stakeholder Conference (one less thing for me to be excluded from). That’s all in there from 10 mins to 14 mins…

And here’s the last question, where Gavin talks about the tensions between carbon emissions, economic growth, Jevons’ Paradox and squaring the circle…

It’s a long interview – here are the questions Gavin was asked!

0 min 00 secs When not chair of BDP or Steering Group, what do you do?

1 min 40 secs Why did you take on the role of chair as the Steering Group?

2 mins 45 When did you first become aware of Manchester A Certain Future. Was it back in 2009 when the whole thing was being stitched together?

4 mins On the Stakeholder Conference. Reading from page 6 of the Certain Future. “A Stakeholder Conference will be held every year to oversee the delivery of projects” and later on it talks about sharing progress and ideas. Is there going to be a Stakeholder Conference in 2014?

06 mins 40 Will there be a budget for these events, will they be in the daytime or the evening. How will you ensure there will be a broad cross-section who come, not just the usual suspects.

08 mins 24. On the monthly meetings of the Steering Group – When the Council holds its meetings, they’re in public. Is any portion of the monthly steering group metings that you’re doing going to be held in public?

10 mins 00 It says in the plan that there is an Annual Stakeholder Conference, and I am a little confused as to how such a fundamental element of the plan can be done away with on the say-so of one person who has been appointed by a two or three member interview panel, who has not been elected. How can a core element of Manchester A Certain Future just be swept away by fiat?

13mins 20 There are lots of groups doing “engagement work”.. the Unique Selling Proposition of the Steering Group was that it was the one group that had the legitimacy to bring everyone to the table. Do you have any comment on that?

14 mins 20 I think most viewers of this would say that you’re legitimate either by being effective and making lots of stuff happen or by elections, or ideally by both. And I want to read you something very quickly from the minutes of a meeting that you did not attend. This was in March 2012, which is basically two years ago.
“Item 6 Elections and Governance of MACF” .. under the existing Terms of Reference the Steering Group would elect three members at the Annual Conference” which is not going to happen any more. But it has no formal election process and needs to have democratic accountability. The Group needs to decide who its electorate is and how the election process will take place in November 2012.” A subgroup was going to produce a substantive report into this at the August 2012 meeting.
Now, you and I have had discussions about elections and the mechanics of them. If the Steering Group can’t even, almost two years after it said it would, come up with a “good enough” election process, why should anyone believe it is capable of helping Manchester to do a really big thing like creating a low carbon culture?

19 mins 30. Tell us what you’re going to say in May of 2014 – assuming we are still talking – when I come and interview you, and I ask you “what’s the Steering Group done in the last six months?” What will your answer be, you hope?

21 mins 30. Let’s take the two headline goals of the Climate Change Action Plan The 41% by 2020. Is BDP signed up to a Certain Future? Does it have an implementation plan?

22 mins 10. Do you [BDP] have a plan that addresses goal two, which is the creation of a low carbon culture?

23 mins 15 As you know, the goal for sign up to the Climate Plan was 1000 organisations. And the last numbers I saw were 220. So is this a goal for the Steering Group – to try to get more organisations signed up to the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.

23 mins 55 So is there going to be an analysis of those 220 organisations – some of whom no longer exist, because of the natural order of things. Is there going to be a process where they’re gone back to and it’s said “well, you signed this, are you in or out?” Is that going to happen?

24 mins 40 And is that going to be the responsibility of one specific person on the Steering Group, charged with re-engaging with those who have already signed up?

25 mins 20. Goal number two of the Certain Future document – it’s worth quoting a little bit. “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. To create a low-carbon culture… I ask everyone this, and I’ve yet to have an answer that makes me think “yeah”. What is a low carbon culture?

27 mins 50. You mentioned the City Council there, so I’ll make this an easy question. Should we expect the Steering Group to perform any type of watch-dog scrutiny function on Manchester City Council and its … sometimes questionable… actions or should we go on relying on Manchester Climate Monthly to perform that scrutiny function?

29 mins 45 Going back to the Certain Future document. I was having a read of it too. Page 37 “Promotion and Education” “Organise an annual climate change conference for young people so they can discuss future scenarios. This was written in 2009. An annual conference we’d be up to number 4 by now… Is it going to happen?

30 mins 40. I don’t think ideas is our problem. I think delivery is our problem. Which comes back to… money. So, what are we going to do?

32 mins 56 Is it not the case that Action for Sustainable Living got £15,000 to perform the secretariat function?

32 mins 25 What events have they supported/done?

35 mins 35 What do you think the “unknown unknowns” are? In 3 years, what will the Steering Group regret not having done?

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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2 Responses to Interview with Gavin Elliott, Chair of #Manchester #climate Steering Group

  1. Jonathan Atkinson says:

    I agree, smaller more open meetings with more involvement from members would be preferential to a large but ineffective ‘set piece’ conference.

    • Well, it’s an indictment that we can’t have BOTH an *effective* annual conference AND also have smaller and more open meetings. After 3 and a half years, you’d think we’d have at least that much capacity. Apparently not, though…

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