We can ride the emotacycle all we like.
We can display our virtue as often as we like.
If we do that, and the stars also align, we might even get a shiny declaration from our lords and masters (many of them deeply wounded people).
But we have been here before, more than once. In 1994 Manchester hosted a “Global Forum” on climate change. A then-youngish councillor was there, gave a speech. Richard Leese. In 2009 the city council signed off on a climate change action plan (more on that in the coming days and weeks). So what. Emissions have gone down, but not in Manchester more quickly than anywhere else in the UK – national factors are what have counted. Meanwhile, the “low carbon culture” is missing presumed dead.
So enough about the past. Let’s try the future, six months hence. Say we have a Labour government. Say Chancellor John McDonnell has declared 2030 as the magical date.
Say simultaneously that Climate Emergency Manchester, having got the four thousand signatures of people who live, work or study in Manchester on the petition, having encouraged people to become active supporters, having got the debate in full Council and – by some miracle – convinces councillors to back the call for a 2030 zero carbon target, complete with a proportionate share of the Airport’s emissions in the budget.
Just words. Just more words.
And words that demobilise activists, who, exhausted by their trips hither and thither, their extremely long meetings, their burny-outy cultures, will be desperate to take a break. They’ll say “we’ve done our bit. We’ve got it onto the agenda/statute books. Now the bureaucrats and politicians have to do what they’re paid to do.”
Great. Because, we’ve been here before. More than once. We have seen this movie. We know – if we have the courage to admit it – how this movie ends. The good guys don’t actually win.
January 4th 2023 is a Wednesday. There’s probably going to be a scrutiny committee meeting or two of Manchester City Council on that day. Back-bench councillors will gather to hear presentations from officers and Executive Members, and pick over reports. (In a perfect world Manchester City Council will have by then been convinced and forced to create a dedicated Environment Scrutiny Committee, but that is by-the-by) [continues here]
If your group is not now, or in the very near future – planning – and acting – about how it can be a radical, unco-optable and unignorable force for sustained pressure ATSD – After The Shiny Declaration – then your group is at best useless, and in all probability worse than useless.