The report “Call for city roads to be ‘pedestrian only'” (M.E.N., 4 February) was both simultaneously hopeful and fundamentally depressing.It’s hopeful because the tide may be turning after decades of Manchester City Council’s pro-car obsession (though we shall see – they have recently taken NCP car parking back in-house and aim to make serious money from it).
It’s depressing because all these councillors currently making a big deal about pedestrianisation voted for a declaration of a climate emergency in July 2019. And in the last two years, Manchester as a city has burned through a quarter of its carbon budget for the entire twenty first century.
The response from the Executive has been to point to the City Council’s own emissions reductions – which are basically a side-effect of ten years of Tory austerity, while blame-shifting and abjuring responsibility (so much for “leadership.”)
The response from councillors – with a very few honourable exceptions – has been been silence. Others have allowed themselves to be diverted into questions around litter-picking and tree-planting.
Clean air and safe streets matter, of course they do. But humans have a tendency to focus on problems that are relatively easy to solve, while simply ignoring the tricky ones. That is what happening here. It’s not good enough.
Future generations (and indeed today’s young people) will not forgive us.
Dr Marc Hudson
editor Manchester Climate Monthly