Manchester City Council has six scrutiny committees that are supposed to oversee the work of the Council bosses (elected councillors in the “Executive” and also the bureaucracy).
Yesterday an email was sent to the chairs of the six scrutiny committees, asking whether they had completed their “carbon literacy” training. (For one councillor’s very positive opinion, see here).
So far, two have replied. Chair of the Economy Scrutiny Committee, Joanne Green has said “I haven’t yet, I intend to, not yet fixed in diary.”
Meanwhile, the chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee, Eddy Newman, has sent a longer reply, which is published below in full.
The replies of the four remaining Scrutiny Committee chairs will be given when received.
Dear Mr Hudson
Like many residents of Manchester, I too care about climate change and support the Council’s policies on this. I have extensive experience of public representation and – as a lay person – I am reasonably familiar with the causes and effects of climate change and the need for individual, local, national, European and international action.
I don’t believe that whether or not an individual has completed a particular course of carbon literacy training is an accurate measure of their knowledge – and in particular their commitment – to tackling climate change. For instance, a “climate change denier” could complete this course, and still hold reactionary views resulting in opposing or just paying lip service to tackling climate change.
However, I often take up training opportunities that are available to councillors, and I will be completing Manchester’s carbon literacy training course over the next few months.
If you share my answer, please do me the courtesy of sharing my answer in full.
Councillor Eddy Newman
Labour Member for Woodhouse Park;
Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee;
Manchester City Council
MCFly says: Cllr Newman’s reply is welcome. It raised some important issues.
Carbon literacy should be seen as a minimum, not a maximum.
It’s also important to acknowledge that even when people have “all the information” they may well choose to interpret it differently than the givers of the information would intend/hope.
It’s ESPECIALLY important to focus on action rather than knowledge. So, with a bit of luck and some prompting, we may see the health implications of climate change (heatwaves, floods, etc) and the psychological implications on the Health Scrutiny Committee’s “forward plan sooner rather than later.
UPDATE 25/07/2014: Cllr Julie Reid, chair of Young People and Children’s Scrutiny Committee, has said written “Send me dates and times and I will endeavour to complete the Carbon Literacy status.”