A bluffer’s guide to #Manchester environment & #climate organisations, old and new

A year ago the Manchester environment/climate movement looked like this

climate movement in manchester 2018

Today it looks like this

climate movement in manchester 2018 and 2019

 

What happened? Three things or four things, imo.

I think – but absolutely cannot prove – that these acted in synergy, amplifying each other. If any one had been missing, we wouldn’t be seeing this intensity of attention (which is distinct from concern, and distinct again from action).

The point of this post is to help new (and perhaps old?) members of the climate action “community” in Manchester (it’s not a movement yet) develop what the military call situational awareness of who the actors are. It is mostly long list of groups, with some effort to flag overlaps of personnel, ideology, methods etc. For each group

  • what they have done/are about to do,
  • how they do it,
  • how to contact them (email, twitter, turning up)
  • what the specific challenges ahead for them are.

This of course is from one perspective – do your own research, go to meetings, read websites (with a pinch of salt, obvs).  For the sake of ‘neutrality’ the lists are alphabetical, rather than in order of size or usefulness. Totally coincidentally, Climate Emergency Manchester, which I co-founded, will soon be rebranding to “Aardvarks and assorted animals against atmospheric apocalypse”: watch out for us at the Carnival of Creatures on June 1st.

The post is a game of two halves.   First it talks in outline terms about the existing groups from Yon Older Days.  So, in the first half

Campaign against Climate Change, Fossil Free Greater Manchester, Frack-Free Greater Manchester, Friends of the Earth, Green Drinks Manchester, Green Party, Greenpeace, Manchester Climate Monthly, SERA, Steady State Manchester

Not campaigning per se, but part of broader movement

Carbon Coop, Kindling Trust . Bridge 5 Mill , Manchester Environmental Education Network and two media outlets – The Salford Star and, much more recently, The Meteor.

For the sake of brevity, the corpses are left buried – nowt on Manchester Climate Action, Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport, Call to Real Action, People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team, Action for Sustainable Living, Transition City Manchester, Reclaim the Power Manchester etc etc etc).

Second it deals with the new groups

Climate Emergency Manchester, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future, GM Unite the Union Community Branch – climate group, Rising Up! Manchester Families and Youth Strike for Climate

Final disclaimers

  • Doubtless I will get things factually wrong. Email me if I have missed a group, mislaid its email address whatevs – mcmonthy@gmail.com
  • People who’ve met me may have noticed that I have one or two opinions. I also have a lot of history, not all of it happy, with various groups.  For once in my damn life I am keeping the editorialising to a minimum, nixxing the snark. and trying to report “just the facts” (1)
  • I haven’t included the “official” apparatus that dates back to 2009, because it is a contemptible joke not worthy of your time.  There’s also a couple of private businesses that I feel don’t deserve your attention/to be included in any list of climate action.

So, FINALLY, on with the show…

OLD GROUPS

Campaign against Climate Change

What they have done/are about to do: Mostly in support of the Frack-Free Greater Manchester campaign

How they do it: Held a public meeting last October. They book transport to demos.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): no website, facebook 2 years old. I think you phone

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: A small tightly-knit band of overstretched people

 

Fossil Free Greater Manchester

What they have done/are about to do: Campaign to get Greater Manchester Pension Fund to divest from fossil-fuels (i.e. the clue is in the name).  “On Friday 19 July 2019, Greater Manchester Pension Fund will be holding its Annual General Meeting.  Please make a note of the date.  It would be great if you’d come along. Fossil Free Greater Manchester will again be there.  Last year we demonstrated outside while some of us attended the meeting (see report at this link).”

How they do it: reports, lobbying, polar bear stunts, social media etc

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): website, contact form

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: The usual ones – of making moral arguments into economic ones, of maintaining momentum/morale in a long struggle with opaque organisations

 

FrackFree Greater Manchester

What they have done/are about to do: Support protest activities on site at Preston New Road, and also gaining public support (e.g. recent letter signing campaign at Salford Shopping Centre

How they do it: see above

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): website (not updated?), very active facebook group

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: With any luck – and thanks to an incredibly determined campaign by them – fracking is almost dead and they can have a well-deserved rest/turn to other facets of the beast.

 

Friends of the Earth (Manchester branch)

What they have done/are about to do: Campaigning and so on about a host of activities, not just climate change

How they do it: Meetings, stalls, lobbying. They do a very useful weekly digest, which is free to sign up to

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website.  And if you’re reading this on Thursday 2nd May 2019,they’re having a social at the Sandbar.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Explaining their particular role these last ten years on the specific issue of climate change policy and Manchester City Council.  Being overtaken by more radical groups demanding swifter action, which will attract many of the people who might otherwise have ended up in FoE

 

Green Drinks Manchester

What they have done/are about to do: Host monthly or so events with a speaker and drinks (the clue is in the name)

How they do it: see above.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): website

 

Green Party

What they have done/are about to do: Had a councillor on Manchester City Council between 2003 and 2008. Nowt since

How they do it: Fighting elections.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website. Aside from “full slate” announcement it was last updated in September 2018.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Relevance in a city where they have no hope of winning an election (First past the post, the votes for Labour are weighed in most wards, not counted. The Corbyn factor will help that endure, even though it shouldn’t). Inability to think and do non-political party stuff as an organisation.

 

 

Greenpeace(Manchester)

What they have done/are about to do: The usual Greenpeace franchise campaigns (i.e supporting stuff that (inter)national Greenpeace wants supporting. Scope for local autonomous activity under the Greenpeace banner is limited.

How they do it: Stalls, dressing up as polar bears etc etc

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website, Facebook.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: As per Friends of the Earth.

 

 

Manchester Climate Monthly (aka MCFly, from when it was Manchester Climate Fortnightly, 2008-2010)

What they have done/are about to do: Devastatingly good-looking and beloved journalists with several Pulitzer Prizes, Manchester Cl… oh, who am I kidding.  There’s interviews, FOIAs, reposts, lots and lots of unsolicited advice [which is being less ignored than it used to be], etc

How they do it:  One man and his Calvinism.  Also, guest posts, and a new volunteer

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up):  mcmonthly@gmail.com @mcr_climate

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Keeping up with the volume of activity (and action).  Sorting wheat from chaff. Doing my fricking day job.

 

SERA

What they have done/are about to do: Labor Party greenies, last seen trying to get Andy Burnham to make some clean air promises.  Sera are planning upcoming meeting / workshop on Growing Green Jobs / skills for a Green Transition, title will probably change. Early July …. possibly in collaboration with GMCaCC.

How they do it: Holding meetings, going to Labour Party conferences, lobbying.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Don’t know. Here?

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Demographics: All the cool kids are with Momentum or XR.

 

Steady State Manchester

What they have done/are about to do: Campaigning for a Steady State economy (the clue is in the name)

How they do it: Reports, meetings. Their AGM is also tonight – Thurs 2nd May.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Same as for everyone: keeping up with the pace of events and the (impossible) scale of the problems facing Manchester.

 

Not campaigning per se, but important parts of the ecosystem

Carbon Coop

What they have done/are about to do: All sorts of practical energy reduction measures, at a collective level. Esp housing retrofit: “an energy services and advocacy co-operative that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change.”

How they do it: Organising retrofits, meetings, involvement in policy processes, lots of stuff

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: That would be telling…

 

Kindling Trust

What they have done/are about to do: Supporting organic food-growing, esp peri0urban (i.e. close to Manchester). “Kindling is working towards a just and ecologically sustainable society. We work with communities, farmers, practitioners, activists, and policy makers to create and support progressive projects that bring about lasting and genuine change.” They’ve got Land Army days coming up

How they do it: Supporting organic farmers, organising volunteers, “etc” – check out their website.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Climate change, same as for the rest of us.

 

Bridge 5 Mill

What they have done/are about to do: Mill in Ancoats converted into meeting space 20 years ago. Scene of many many a worthy meeting.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Same as ever – just 800m too far from city centre.

 

Manchester Environmental Education Network

What they have done/are about to do: “dedicated to supporting teachers, organisations and individuals working to promote environmental education and Education for Sustainability.”

How they do it: Work in schools, meetings, conferences

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: ? Dealing with young kids actually figuring out what the “adults” have perpetrated, and taking the pitchforks out of their cute little hands without getting skewered?

 

The Salford Star

What they have done/are about to do: Muck-rake (and boy there is a lot of muck to rake) about social justice and environmental justice issues in Salford and beyond.

How they do it: Reporting

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Lack of cash. Volumes of muck. It’s a real Augean stables kinda thing.

 

The Meteor

What they have done/are about to do: New media outlet covering activism style stuff in Manchester

How they do it: Reporting. Trying to skill folks up too.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Website

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: See above Salford Star/MCFly

 

NEW GROUPS

Climate Emergency Manchester

What they have done/are about to do: Established late March 2019, to connect old and new activists, make it easier for people to talk to friends/acquaintances about climate change and to get 4000 signatures on a petition  calling on Manchester City Council to declare a climate emergency.

NB The guy writing this post co-founded CEM

How they do it: Website, twitter, collecting signatures on paper, skillshares, public meeting on Thursday May 23 – “What Next for Climate Action in Mnachester?”

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com.  Also contact form,

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: what if Council does actually declare CE (and then continues with BAU)?!  Keeping momentum/network building going. Not burning out.

 

Extinction Rebellion

What they have done/are about to do: C’mon. No explanation necessary. November demo in Manchester. A week of rebellion in London in April. A Very Big Meeting last week.

How they do it: Public order situations, primarily, but pivoting now…

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): xrmcr.org  also twitter. Meeting most Mondays at The Breadshed or Sandbar.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are:  The Lure of London, the limits of the arrestability meme,  Strategic Co-optation (Committee of 100 redux), agents provocateur,  the summer (since many folks involved are students). Really understanding that what goes up has always in the past gone down (maybe indeed, ‘this time it’s different’)

 

Fridays for Future

What they have done/are about to do: Gathering outside rear entrance of Town Hall (i.e. next to War Memorial)  every Friday since late November 2018.

How they do it: Turn up.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): No website, just turn up. Fridays, 12 to 2. If it is raining, under the Central Library portico thing.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: What about the summer?  How to sustain interest

 

GM Climate Action Network

What they have done/are about to do: One launch meeting in January. A couple of open letters

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Twitter

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: The two problems of any broad “coalition” – how to act quickly and lowest common denominator-ism (15m tonnes? Seriously?)  Actual financial and personnel resources?

 

GM Unite the Union Community Branch – climate group

What they have done/are about to do: See this great interview

How they do it: They are holding a film showing, and having speakers at their meetings.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Saturday May 11th film showing of ‘This Changes Everything’

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: As they well know, not all Trade Unions are on the same page about the actions needed and the speed and scale.

 

Rising Up! Manchester Families

What they have done/are about to do: Hold monthly family meetings, do online and email lobbying of council and put on a pre-climate strike meet up for families of young children at Mcr Art Gallery. Next meeting is Sunday 19th May at 11am, next pre meet climate strike is Friday 24th May at 11am (both Manchester Art Gallery)

How they do it: First big event will be Carnival of Creatures on Saturday June 1st

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): For now Twitter, but website impending.

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Need more people taking active roles

 

 

Youth Strike for Climate

What they have done/are about to do: They’ve had three strikes and are about to have another – Friday 24th May.

How they do it: They strike!  The same thing that gave us the vote, freedom of speech, etc etc.

How to contact them (email, twitter, turning up): Twitter

What the specific challenges ahead for them are: Summer is coming: How to maintain morale and momentum

 

What next?

  • Soon enough there will probably be an explicitly Christian group, and you’d hope Muslim, Jewish and other ones.  Whichever particular god(s) you believe in, She/They are probably very pissed off at the wanton destruction of most of their creation.
  • Hopefully too we will see more union activity,and better dialogue between the various environmental, TU and other-social-issue groups (the GM Unite Community Branch climate group is a HUGELY encouraging development, that all environmentalists should support, imo).
  • Co-ordination and mutual support, not stepping on each others’ toes, not booking events on the same day, not being parasitic on each others members/supporters will as ever continue to be a problem, but not one that can’t be partially coped with (never resolved).
  • The inevitability(?) of social movement dynamics – smugosphere, emotacycles, movement-cycles, abeyance…

 

Final reflections

Well, that was confusing, wasn’t it?  Sorry, but it’s a big (or broad) scene, with a lot of activity (and some action).  If someone wants to scrape the data and make a more attractive two sides of A4 (probably landscape?) then go right ahead. Two final observations, both banal.

  • First, some of these new groups will not survive, or will shrink to a shadow of their current selves. Some will go into voluntary liquidation with a  “mission accomplished”. Others may split into Popular Fronts and People’s Fronts. New groups will spring up too, chasing the buzz and the numbers. It will all be… gaudy.
  • Secondly, there are and will be lots and lots of unaffiliated concerned citizens. I hope that these people. realise that just because one group is “not for you” that doesn’t mean your skills, knowledge, talents, passions and broader networks are not urgently needed. They absolutely bloody are (pardon my French).  And we aardvarks are right here…

 

Footnotes

(1) If anyone from the Uni sees this and starts laughing about my positivism, yes, yes, Bhaskar, Archer, SCOT, STS, Foucault etc etc. This is a blog for crissake.

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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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9 Responses to A bluffer’s guide to #Manchester environment & #climate organisations, old and new

  1. MEEN says:

    Good summary. and yes, Summer is coming. Not sure whether MEEN should take pitchforks away or to hand even more of them out even at the risk of getting skewered! 

    Raichael Lockwww.meen.org.uk

  2. Louise says:

    Re: “Soon enough there will probably be an explicitly Christian group, and you’d hope Muslim, Jewish and other ones.”

    I don’t know about other faiths, but there’s already a group and a page for Manchester Muslim Environmentalists. The page in particular has regular posts sharing articles and information.

    https://facebook.com/groups/561180210573554
    https://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430831160489849

  3. Anne Tucker says:

    This is REALLY GOOD Marc, I have printed it out to pass on to people as well. It can be confusing what everyone is doing and whether things are oppositional rather than essential parts of the whole. Hoping to get families from our streets to take part in the carnival parade!

  4. Really useful post Marc. Thank you.

  5. Stuart says:

    Good idea to produce this overview, Marc.
    GM Climate Action Network (GM-CAN) has been more active than it might seem from your summary (eg well-attended recruitment fair for climate groups and a coordinated response to the GMCA plan) and has representation from many of the groups you mention here . Also it has a Twitter feed @GMCAN3 that is designed to help people find what is going on across the city.

  6. Stuart says:

    Oh, and just to be clear, GM-CAN was started to strengthen the local movement by bringing existing groups together, rather than being another campaigning group in its own right.

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