Interview with Carbon Coop about ‘mPower’ etc.

Earlier this week Jonathan Atkinson of Carbon Coop attended a meeting, organised by the Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory, about municipal power.  MCFly emailed some questions….

1. So, yet another Carbon Coop junket to Europe.  What was THIS one about?

Yes, all land based travel of course!

This is mPower, a four year EU Horizon 2020 project facilitating peer
learning between municipalities with energy transition expertise ie
renewable generation, energy efficiency, new financing mechanisms and
smart grids.

But the particular emphasis of the project is on identifying and
promoting projects with citizen and worker involvement.

It’s exciting because cities are the exact scale at which new energy
system innovation can take place and you have a number of municipalities
taking a radical approach to involving citizens such as Barcelona,
Naples, Paris and Grenoble.

The Municipalize Europe event took place at the European Parliament and
was organised by ‘Barcelona en Camu’ and Corporate Observatory Europe
with the aim of sharing expertise between like-minded local authorities.
It also served as an official launch for mPower and we are currently
recruiting municipalities with a short survey that can be completed
here: http://municipalpower.org/get-involved/

2. What happened that surprised you/exceeded expectations?  Any top tips 
on how to organise events that make it easier for ‘lucky’ connections to 
 form?

I think the whole event surprised me as I’ve never attended anything at
the European Parliament and it’s a fascinating place, a hive of activity
with politicians, MEPs, Commission staff, NGOs and lobbyists buzzing
around.

It was also interesting to hear from radical politicians from around the
EU and to hear about their local struggles and how they see working
together as a way to push a more radical agenda on a European scale.

I’m afraid I wasn’t part of the organising and I don’t have much of a
comparison to other EU Parliament events – it was fairly staid, with a
panel and an audience within an auditorium, but I get a sense that
organising anything more participatory in the Parliament might be
challenging due to the constraints of space and security. It was great
that they had translators in the room as it really helped facilitate
dialogue between people from different countries.

 3. How will you be taking the things you learnt/relationships you 
formed/strengthened into your work here in Manchester?

I got a real sense that the issues municipalities face in the UK are the
same as those faced across Europe including housing shortages, the
democratic deficit, corporate capture of procurement, failing services,
transport and air pollution issues and facing the challenge of climate
change.

I feel that there are new, radical models of citizen engagement emerging
around Europe that we can explore here – whether they be
Green/Left/Social Democratic/Community based. And there are also clearly
some really interesting ideas are re-municipalisation of services.

I’m not sure what this means in a Manchester context – my sense is that
we need political and citizen pressure from below to ensure more radical
ideas are translated in to policy and delivery.

4. What are the big challenges for Carbon Coop in the coming year?  How 
and when can people get involved? Why should they?

We have a few projects coming up – watch this space, or more accurately
our website and social media channels.

 

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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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