Tonight there is a two hour “conference” about climate change at the University of Manchester. It’s by something that calls itself the Manchester Climate Change “Agency” which is actually not a statutory body, but a community interest company which has received a LOT of money from Manchester City Council. And cannot be forced to reveal awkward information about what it spends and achieves, and how, through the Freedom of Information Act. What a fortunate state of affairs for certain people, eh?
The “agency” is an outgrowth/successor to the “Stakeholder Steering Group” established in 2010. The Stakeholder Steering Group was supposed to have elected members (the elections were never held, despite promises). It was supposed to hold a day-long annual conference for all stakeholders, so progress could be assessed, failures learnt from, connections made. It managed to hold one full-day conference (2010), two half-day jokes (2012 and 2013) before unilaterally cancelling them in 2014. Its meetings were held in private (not bad for a ‘stakeholder’ group and…
Right about now, readers will be yawning, and asking ‘why does any of this matter? It’s ancient history. ‘ That’s a fair question. And the answer is this.
Exactly The. Same. People. Who. Presided. Over. Ten. Years. Of Abject. Failure. Are. Still. Running. Things.
They have had ten years to show what they are capable of. They have done that. They have shown precisely what they are capable of.
The second goal of the Climate Change Action Plan, the plan the Steering Group was supposed to, erm, steer, was this
“To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city. To create a ‘low carbon culture’ we need to build a common understanding of the causes and implications of climate change, and to develop programmes of ‘carbon literacy’ and ‘carbon accounting’ so that new culture can become part of the daily lives of all individuals and organisations. Every one of the actions in our plan will contribute in some way to the development of ‘carbon literacy’ in the city. However, achieving a new low carbon culture – where thinking about counting carbon is embedded and routine – can only be delivered as a result of all the actions together, in an overall co-ordinated manner. Enabling a low carbon culture in the city will be particularly important if the challenge of meeting even more demanding carbon reduction targets between 2020 and 2050 is to be met.”
Reader. Has this been achieved? No. Has this even been attempted? No.
So if you think that cancelling elections is the way to build legitimacy. if you think that not holding annual stakeholder conferences is the way to build political and cultural support for radical action, if you think that shovelling council money into unaccountable stabvests that call themselves ‘Agency’ and hold two hour ‘conferences’ is an adequate response to a climate emergency then you will be happy. If not, you’ll weep.
And you certainly won’t ask the simple question – how close did the city, under the auspices of the ‘Agency,’ get towards its aimed for 13.5% emissions reduction in the last year> Was it 12.5%? 7%? lower? And will there, unlike previous years, be any accountability for that failure>? Any assessment that maybe the glib smiling pale male and stale men have had long enough in post and ought to be asked what they have actually achieved? Don’t go holding your breath.
2015 AGM report (back when they were honest enough just to call it an AGM)
2016 AGM report (warning – this one is hilarious, and you will spit out anything you are drinking, like that girl in the meme…)
Their 2016 ‘reboot’….
PS If anyone wants to ask the process by which some groups (Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion) were invited to have stalls and other groups never received invitations, that’d be great. Surely publicly=funded bodies, even if they are actually community-interest-companies, need to have some sort of transparent process in place – it can’t, surely, just be ‘let’s invite our mates, but not anyone who has embarrassed us in the past’….