What does #COP21 mean for #Manchester

James Hansen is the go-to guy for climate change. In 1981 his work put climate change on the front page of the New York Times.  In June 1988 he spoke out when other climate scientists were too cautious, too scared for their jobs, and said “It’s time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”

Here’s what he just said about Paris;

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

Look. There are some of us who need to be lied to, who need to believe the soothing words of our leaders.  Our leaders have been making promises about climate change since a meeting in March 1989 at the Hague.  They made more promises at the Second World Climate Conference in November 1990.  They made more promises at the 1992 “Earth Summit” – which agreed the following;


They made more promises at Kyoto in 1997, more again in 2009 at Copenhagen.

All worthless words.

In Manchester, we have our own worthless words – the fine promises of the 2009 Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.  And the worthless words of a Council that promised it would have even 60 of its own councillors “carbon literate” by the end of 2014.  [And that in the context of the promise that 1 million people woul be ‘carbon literate’ by the end of 2013.]

And the worthless words of an Executive Member for the Environment who promised to start blogging, and then didn’t.

All worthless words.

Some of us need to believe, it seems.


A series of predictions for 2016

  • Generally, it will become harder to “mobilise” people now that fine promises have been made. Most people want/need to believe that our lords and masters are competent, are aware of the problems and are doing something about them.  The alternative – that we are slouching towards catastrophe as playthings of sociopaths- is too shocking, too horrible.
  • The established and new-ish groups will continue to pursue their information-deficit model of “mobilising” people.  They will retain only a small handful of those people who come to their meetings.  They will make no meaningful efforts to find out what skills their putative supporters/members have, what skills they would LIKE to have.  They will continue to organise boring top-down meetings that act as invisible filters, excluding all but the politicised, the students, and the middle-classes.
  • Manchester City Council will continue to paint itself as responsible and concerned.  It will stage a charade of a “consultation” and a “refresh” on the failed Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.  Many of those who participate will be ignorant of the roots of the Plan and the causes of its failure.  Shamefully, some of those who take part in the consultation and the circus around it will be strategically silent, since telling the truth is a crime in Manchester, and it would get them excluded from the circles that they think matter.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. We can rely on the Council to be unwilling to admit mistakes, or to learn from failure. That’s the nature of its bureaucratic and political ossification.

But the social movement organsiations could, in theory, be more brave, more nimble, more innovative. But they won’t be, for various reasons. Carpe the bloody diems.


UPDATE: THIS – COP-21-Paris-Climate-Conference-Summit


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Manchester City Council, Signs of the Pending Ecological Debacle, Unsolicited advice. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to What does #COP21 mean for #Manchester

  1. Kate Gilmartin says:

    Yes – agree, but finding a way to mobilising people is really hard, any suggestions? I love 95% of your posts, but you fail to help those that read YOUR posts to mobilise? You’re right, there are Limited credible voices out there ( in Greater Manchester) we’re a huge area, but yet are unable to pull together collectively – why? Vested interests, politics…or just lack of reach..?

    It’s easy to unpick what’s wrong, but really, really hard to build what’s right? How can you help change that……?

    Collectivism is key in the climate change debate, But sorry, I’m a white, middle aged white woman – sorry I can’t change my demographic, but I still give a shit…! Does that mean my fight is less justified? Should climate change address social justices and inequality – yes – but I tell my kids not be spoilt….

    The terrible thing about climate change, is that people know it’s happening and most will want to do the right thing, but haven’t the foggiest what that may be. That includes our ‘leaders’! Find a conceivable path and people will follow – that path has not yet been found as there are not enough ‘visionaries’ to highlight the path – obvs CAT zero carbon Britain is a great starting point, but people haven’t picked up on that here in local gov??

    Marc, what can we DO?

    Answers on a postcard – a big one though……

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi Kate,

      I’m a middle-class and middle-aged white bloke, and I can’t change my demographic either, and can’t pretend like the girl from Greece at St Martin’s College in ‘Common People’.

      I have written a bit about ‘what is to be done’, but not enough and not recently. So after Wednesday (Big Deadline) I will have another bash, for what it is worth. More than that, though, MCFly could be a platform for exactly this discussion – what do we do DIFFERENTLY in the future to stop having the same result.

      Anyone else want to pitch in?


      PS Kate – there’s a post about ‘how I would organise a film showing’ that I put up on this site a couple of weeks ago – gives a bit of a taste…)

  2. Pingback: Why the hype over Paris and #COP21? Politics, psychology and money | Marc Hudson

  3. Sam Darby says:

    Hi Marc, I read this post and share your concern, if not your anger. Why am I not angry? Because I’ve lost many more battles in my life than I have won. That’s no consolation to you because this is perhaps the ultimate one to lose, but the struggle goes on.

    Just to give you a tiny bit of consolation, I respect what you do concerning climate change. It’s made a difference to me and I am trying to get the message out in my small part of Manchester. It’s a mainly working class area and I am a fish in the water here, but it is slow going at this point and at 72 I know I don’t have a lot of time left.

    Attached is a copy of our November Burnage ‘Greenmail’ which goes out each month now to 60 voters, many of whom vote GP. Our next Ward leaflet goes out in Feb (5700) and I will be saying something fairly brief about Paris, along the lines of your post, something more substantial will go in the December ‘Greenmail’.

    I’ve also attached a notice for our Burnage Group social. You don’t have to bring any food. You may want to bring your partner. You will be able to talk to people who may be receptive? I would love to see you there.

    Best wishes Sam

    Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2015 15:55:37 +0000 To: samdarby43@hotmail.com

  4. Richard Lund says:

    Hi Marc

    I really appreciate your unconventional and eye opening opinions on all things to do with climate change and I will circulate parts of this latest post to my friends who may be as ‘taken in’ by what little they hear about Paris as I have been . I would like to suggest though that it might be good if you stopped referring to the missing Council blog as your continuing focus on this one (relatively minor?) issue might detract from the other more important things that you are saying.

    Best wishes

    • Hi Richard,

      glad you liked this.

      Re: “the missing blog.” Well, if they can’t even keep a simple and cheap promise, why should we believe them on the bigger ones? To me it was akin to Van Halen and the M and Ms… http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/vanhalen.asp
      It speaks to the trustworthiness of the people in charge. Or the lack of trustworthiness. It also speaks to the fact that they don’t want to be transparent, and they don’t want to engage in discussion about what is and is not going well. Which means they will never learn anything.

      All best wishes


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