Climate change is a major threat to the health and prosperity of the people of Manchester, over and above the hardship so many are experiencing already. When the City Council’s Executive next meets on Weds 12th February (10am, Manchester Town Hall), it will endorse the Council’s Climate Plan 2014-17. In advance of that, we the undersigned call upon the Council to;
1) Commit to all 96 elected members of the Council being “carbon literate” by the end of 2014.
(In May 2013 the Economy Scrutiny Committee made the recommendation that all councillors were to undertake this day-long training by May 2014. Current plans posit a March 2017 completion date. This does not display political leadership or a sense of urgency. It could be made mandatory that it is a precondition of becoming an Executive member or the chair or vice-chair of any committee that a councillor is “carbon literate.”)
2) Commit to doubling the number of signatories of the Climate Change Action Plan from approximately 200 to 400 by the end of 2014, with at least 40 organisations having completed implementation plans.
(In 2009 the target was set at 1000 signatories. This was not met. The Council could insist, for example, that all organisations taking part in cultural events such as the Manchester Day Parade signed the Climate Change Action Plan)
3) Ensure that the 2009 Plan’s goal two – the creation of a “low carbon culture” – is mentioned in all communications and plans (it is absent from the Council’s 2014-7 plan) and in addition work with interested individuals and groups to create reliable and valid measures for this goal by the end of 2014.
(Goal Two states: “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’ we need to build a common understanding of the causes and implications of climate change, and to develop programmes of ‘carbon literacy’ and ‘carbon accounting’ so that new culture can become part of the daily lives of all individuals and organisations.)
4) Create an Environmental Scrutiny Committee of equal standing to the existing six scrutiny committees, to examine progress not just on climate change but other issues such as biodiversity and Green and Blue Infrastructure.
(Such an Environmental Scrutiny Committee could lead the way in constructive engagement with the many individuals and groups willing and able to support the Council’s work. Membership of the committee would not need to be restricted to councillors (see the precedent set by the Young People and Children’s Committee), and the committee need not meet in the Town Hall during working hours. The existence of the Environmental Strategy Programme Board, which meets in private and contains few if any elected members, is not an adequate substitute.)
5) Ensure that quarterly progress reports on the Climate Plan 2014-17 are presented to elected members, in all relevant scrutiny committees, and published prominently on the City Council’s website.
(The idea of quarterly reports, put forward by Councillors Kevin Peel and Fran Shone at the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee meeting of July 2013 , appears to have been lost. It needs to be refound. Everyone knows that if it isn’t measured, it’s less likely to be done.)
6) Vigorously encourage the six existing Scrutiny Committees to include climate and environment issues on their forward plans, alongside fuel poverty and food poverty.
(At present, climate change has been siloed within Neighbourhoods, with a brief foray by Economy. This does not reflect the reality – that climate change will affect our community cohesion, our finances, our health and our young people.)
7) Ensure that the ward plans of all 32 wards (and Strategic Regeneration Frameworks) include concrete actions and SMART goals around both the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and the risks that Manchester’s citizens will face due to floods, heat-waves and the like.
(The ward plans are one excellent way that individual councillors could re-engage with citizens who want to make their area greener and more prepared for the sometimes unexpected changes to come.)
8) Hold regular “Question and Answer sessions” over the course of the year with all Executive members on how they are driving forward climate and fuel poverty/food poverty issues in their portfolios, with Executive members encouraged to follow the Leader’s example, and start blogging regularly.
(Face-to-face events could be held in the Town Hall, and social media used to engage people who were unable to attend, or who wanted to view proceedings at a later date).
9) Properly fund and resource the Manchester Stake-holder Steering Group, on the condition that it holds its meetings in public, begins the process of electing its membership, and re-institutes the Annual Stakeholder Conference.
(Self-explanatory. Public money, even if it comes from the Airport, should not go to bodies that claim to represent stakeholders but meet in private, without elections and without keeping core commitments.)
We also offer our help to the Council in achieving these goals.
Marc Hudson, editor of Manchester Climate Monthly
Martyn Cowsill, Passivebuild Ltd
Justin Hellings, Manchester Citizenship (personal capacity)
Jonathan Silver, Ancoats resident
Tom Skinner, (Fallowfield)
Ruth Rosselson (Chorlton)
Mark Burton, (Chorlton) (personal capacity)
Jo Campbell, (Moss Side)
Dave Bishop (Chair of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows)(personal capacity)
Gillian Bloor (Irlam)
Margaret Morris (Chorlton) (personal capacity)
Chris Walsh (Kindling Trust)
Anne Tucker (Rusholme) “everyone agrees now that climate change is a reality and styeps need to be taken to lessen our carbon footprint. However, without this being reinforced and explained regularly and continuously, our citizens will only come slowly to realise how we need to change our daily behaviour. The Council must lead on this , and both encourage those of us who are already advocates to push the ideas in our own communities, but also make clear, understandable information available to all. How about incentives?”
Jenny Trigg (Whalley Range)”This is a desperately urgent matter. I fear that it is almost to late to avert a climate catastrophe. Manchester could be a national leader in apologising for the Industrial Revolution and then demonstrating how to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. If you could educate yourselves about carbon emissions and involve Mancunions, together we could work to mitigate climate change. Manchester also started the Vegetarian Society in 1847, and if we could now encourage Veganisms and stop exploiting animals, we could reduce the huge amount of Methane greenhouse gas emissions.”
Jane Lawson (Chorlton)
Robbie Gillett (Chorlton)
Pauline Hammerton (Chorlton) “Europe is suffering floods and stormy coasts, North America is freezing, South America has the hottest heat-wave currently – climate change is real, and has to be acknowledged and addressed.”
Anne Vivienne Power (Chorlton) “as a Green Party member it is a priority”
Margaret Manning (Chorlton)
Dick Venes (Levenshulme) “Because I want my nephews and nieces to have a world worth living in.”
Abigail Pound (Fallowfield) “It is essential that action on climate change and rapid movement towards low carbon culture is embedded in everything we do here in Manchester and the City Council must lead the way.”
Jennifer Pound (Withington) “I want to do my bit!”
Michelle Green “The challenges that climate change is bringing to our our doorsteps require local action and planning. This isn’t a problem that exists at a distance – we need to prepare and start facing it as a community.”
The full version, with explanations, is here) and encourage your friends, family and work colleagues to do the same.
and encourage your friends, family and work colleagues to do the same.