The Manchester Climate Change “Agency” – a formidably expensive figleaf for Manchester City Council that isn’t even an agency (1) – has chosen to wait until after COP26 to release a deeply embarrassing report that reveals that the city is way way off track on hitting its carbon emissions reductions.
In previous years the “Agency” has released its annual report in June or July, and even held an AGM (renamed as a ‘conference’, even though it only lasted an hour and a half). However, this year, despite the obvious hook of the COP26 in Glasgow, the Agency somehow the lavishly-funded body was mysteriously not able to release its report until Thursday November 18th. Doubtless they were gutted about this, and about how the journalists covering the climate issue were exhausted/their editors telling them to get on with other things.
Doubtless this is why the Agency only tweeted out the link once, and didn’t even both to put the report’s launch as a separate item on its so-called “news” page (turns out it isn’t just green groups who are useless at comms.)
Right, enough sarcasm, this is serious. There are limits. This “Agency” is paid for out of public funds. There are supposed to be standards. There’s supposed to be leadership, honesty.
The basic facts are these:
In 2018 Manchester City Council, the “independent” agency and a bunch of organisations it had corralled and called a “partnership” announced that Manchester was going to be net zero by 2038, 12 years ahead of the national target. It hired the Tyndall Centre to do some sums. The sums came back that the city had a 15 million tonne carbon budget for the rest of the 21st century.
In 2020 it was revealed that the city had already burnt through almost 4 million tonnesl (26%) in 2 years. No emergency action was taken. But the climate change “Agency” held a 90 minute “conference” where they said the event was not about climate change but the economy.
In September 2021, the statistics around Manchester missing its carbon budget were released in an appendix to a report going to the Environment and Climate Scrutiny Committee. But for a sign that said “beware of the leopard” they couldn’t have been buried any deeper. As Climate Emergency Manchester revealed at the time, they showed that the city has now burned 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s 40%. In three years.
Not that this was clearly stated. No, they buried in in confusing bar graphs.
All the new report has done is change the colour scheme.
That’s it. But a cynic might say thatit also explains why the publication was delayed until AFTER the COP26 circus was over: they didn’t want any journalists asking awkward questions.
The relevant info is buried on page 21 of a (padded) 78 page report, of course.
The Agency is burying all this as deep as it can. Next year, not only will they not bother holding an AGM (how is that even legal?) but they’ll publish the report only in Swahili, with a little “enter your credit card details here for a Polish translation” button.
The rest of the report is the usual drivel. What’s interesting though, is nowhere do they release a list of the 60 organisations in the “partnership”. They just let various outfits take up space talking about themselves. An elected member of the Environment and Climate Scrutiny Committee asked in September for that list of organisations. Was promised she’d get it, by the director of the “Agency.” Wasn’t given it. Asked again in October. Wasn’t given it. Has, now, finally been given it. Is this incompetence? Or contempt for democratic norms? Or perhaps both?
What is to be done?
If you give a damn about this city, you gotta get involved in (or start?) a group that is gonna stick around. So many groups have died in the last two years. With consequences-
And you’re gonna have to learn to read these noxious bullshit documents and take notes, and hold the authors to account.
This document is useless but also essential. Reading it won’t make you more knowledgeable about what has been done, needs to be done. It WILL however, if you read it well (and with others), make you aware of how they spin, prevaricate and bullshit.
Manchester Climate Monthly will soon be “done.” If you want to get involved in an organisation that is trying (and often succeeding) in doing the needed work, then look no further than Climate Emergency Manchester – firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) An agency, in public sector terms, is a body that can be subjected to Freedom of Information Act requests. In 2015 Manchester City Council abolished a “stakeholder steering group” that WAS subjected) to FOIAs and set up a CIC (Community Interest Company) which it then renamed as an Agency. HOWEVER, Manchester City Council is basically the only funder of this group, and recruited and pays the wages of its director, who was until her appointment an MCC employee.