Upcoming event: Pension fund protest: Mon 2nd Sept #divestment #climate #Manchester

On 2nd Sept Join Rising Up! Manchester Families in a very visual and surreal climate action along with Ethel and the Earthlings, green and blue from head to toe, and Sami the polar bear. We’re off to Droylsden to call on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund – who have approximately £2billion invested in fossil fuels – to deliver handmade cards from Manchester children asking the fund to think about their futures and invest in industries which help not harm it.

This particular action came about because of a question asked by my five-year-old Maia. “Don’t they have children?” she asked when I tried to explain why so little had been done in the years that we had known about how our actions changed the climate. That still, there is so much money to be made from fossil fuels. “Are they bad, don’t they care?” “Maybe they don’t know,” she said. So we are off to tell them.

Many have told them already. Fossil Free Greater Manchester have been campaigning for years. Extinction Rebellion joined them recently, chaining themselves to the entrance when there was a meeting, climate ecocide sprayed across the building. But people were angry and sad, because the building commemorates a soldier who died while on duty.

So we will follow. With our cards from children, a small gaggle of weird and wonderful creatures to deliver them.

On the tram over from Manchester to Droylsden, and outside the building, we will engage passengers and passers-by in a game of ‘What’s My Future?’ The giant paper fortune teller revealing answers, some which help, some which hurt the earth.

There are a number of people who would be great to interview. 10-year-old climate activist Lillia Adetoro – who has been interviewed by numerous media outlets as part of her activism – has written a poem which she will read. Youth MP for Bury and Youth Strike activist Emma Greenwood will also be with us. Parents taking part include Kath Morgan, an Emergency Medicine consultant at A&E who believes it is important to show her children that she is fighting against inaction on climate breakdown.

Timing etc
Monday 2 September
11:15 photo opportunity at St Peter’s Square

11:45 photo opportunity, interviews and opportunity to film at Guardsman Tony Downe House, 5 Manchester Road, Droylsden, M43 6SF

Or join us on the tram to play, What’s My Future with people on the way.

Rising Up! Manchester Families

We are a family climate group, part of Extinction Rebellion, making it fun and meaningful for families to take action in demanding a future.


Rose Arnold 07422972702

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Upcoming event: Trees not cars 17th August, 1pm #Manchester

Long-term observers of Manchester City Council are shocked, shocked to find that the recent declaration of a climate emergency turns out to be empty rhetoric rather than the radical, participatory and effective action that the City Council and its figleaf chums have been conducting for ten years. Oh yes.

One example of this empty rhetoric is the plan to turn a building site into… a car park. Because, you know, more fossil fuel infrastructure is definitely the way to solve a problem of too much fossil fuel burning. Oh yes.

Rather than waste time with powerless scrutiny committees, which are ignored/patronised by the Executive, a bunch of people, under the banner trees not cars, are taking some direct action.

trees not cars

Join us on 17th August @ 1pm Central Retail Park, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester

We invite you to start creating the People’s Park, under the guidance of Guerrilla Gardener Chris Thody (http://twitter.com/ChrisThody)

Join us for:
* Guerrilla Gardening – bring a plant and a bag of soil!
* Grow Boxes – bring some pallets along
* Green Grafitti (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Moss-Graffiti)
* Cycling, Jogging, Skating, a kickabout
* Picnics
* Bring your kids, and dogs

Bring your creativity and let’s leave the site cleaner and greener than we found it!

Find out more
Visit: https://www.treesnotcars.com/

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Central Retail Park carpark proposal – questions and answers #Manchester

nqforum event.PNGMany of you will know that Manchester City Council declared a Climate Emergency on July 10th. Some of you will know that that very same council is planning to use the land where the Toys R Us was on Great Ancoats St as a temporary car park (nice money-spinner, shame about the carbon emissions).

One of the groups objecting to this is the Northern Quarter Forum, which is hosting a rally TODAY.

Below is an email interview conducted with Joanne Cross, secretary of the Forum. You can find the Forum  on Facebook here, and on Twitter as @NQForum

1. First off, what is the Northern Quarter Forum – how long has it been going, who set it up, why? What are some of the battles it has fought/lost/won. Is it affiliated to any political party or NGO?
NQF was set up before my time by an ex local Councillor who then wanted the residents to run it for him but it never really took off although NQ Greening arose out of it with a group of non-political locals. The NQ fell into Ancoats and Clayton & City Centre Wards which obviously wasn’t ideal. People move on and 5 years ago when making enquiries as to whether there was a residents group there was only a handful of concerned residents left who were concentrating on greening the area more than anything. Informal meetings were still held with police and council updates.

Since 2014 we have gained nearly 100 members, (which doesn’t sound like a lot but the population of NQ is pretty transient) and over 3,000 followers on Twitter so, in October 2018 we decided to constitutionalise as we were growing as a group and needed to be taken seriously, we then had a voice and connections. “People live here. We are residents dedicated to making the Northern Quarter a clean, green and better place to live for the benefit of all.” We organise litter-picks, planting projects and take a keen interest in the preservation of the neighbourhood’s heritage.

A major battle was over the Shudehill / Back Turner St. development. During a well-attended consultation meeting we were told that the warehouse was dangerous and had to be demolished the very next day. Unsurprisingly demolition was part of the proposed planning application for a hotel. Part of the gable end was indeed demolished but we managed to persuade our fairly newly elected Councillors to put a halt to the rest being demolished. Salboy, the developers quickly realised we meant business and included us in further discussion and consultations. Out of the next 3 proposals, which had now become apartments and some retail, we were pleased to see that the warehouse could be retained with the inclusion (albeit tiny) a pocket park.

Two sites on Thomas St. were also of concern to us. The first was the old Shopfitters site which had planning permission to be demolished (apart from a corner unit which is listed) and the construction of “artisan dwellings” which in our view were far from that. The day before demolition was due to start a concerned Manchester citizen applied to get the whole site listed and now the developers are having to reconsider their proposals. We can’t take credit for the listing application but we are very grateful to whoever it was. The developers have since asked for our opinion and suggestions but our concern is that they don’t maintain the properties and again may fall into disrepair.
The second site is the corner plot of Thomas / John / Kelvin / Back Turner. The planning permission for this site appears to have universal approval as it at least retains the corner (Al Faisal) building.

In June, we successfully persuaded the Council to close Stevenson Square from Oldham St. through to Newton St. to traffic which hasn’t been done before, for Clean Air Day. We organised “The People’s Pop-Up Park” in 9 days, enlisting the help of Friends of the Earth, Walk Ride Mcr, TFGM and others. We hope that Stevenson Square will soon be traffic-free and return to it’s historic purpose of being for the people and the home of radicals.

For The Great British Spring Clean in April we had a very successful guided art & architecture tour lead by Hayley Flynn, picking litter along the way and hope to do many more.

We are not affiliated to any political party and do not wish to be. We aren’t an NGO as such although we are a non-profit organisation and we don’t have enough income (through donations) to become a registered charity.

2. What are the NQF objections to the proposed carpark?

The proposed carpark on the Central Retail Park site is such a wasted opportunity. There are proposals afoot for a luxury office development but not for at least 5 years. The Council own this land and obviously want to make a quick buck from parking revenue until the re-development starts, as has been the case with many land-owners in the city centre for many years. Our Council declared a Climate Emergency on July 10th the day after the planning application was submitted .and now they are encouraging more cars to come into the city centre instead of finding ways to discourage them. This is a 10.5 acre site right next to Cotton Fields, the Marina and more importantly a primary school. It would make perfect sense to link all these together for the benefit of residents and visitors alike and because of the appalling lack of green spaces in the City Centre and the ever increasing population, surely the health of the citizens should take priority.

3. What would members like to see the space used for instead?
We are holding a rally on Thursday Aug.1st. to find out exactly what people suggest, whether that’s allotments, woodland, sporting facilities, children’s playground or all of those linking the canals and marina for the community. If the site has to be developed in the future, surely social and affordable housing should take priority on Council owned land?

4. How are you going about opposing the existing plans and proposing others?
We will be encouraging everyone to object to the planning application which is going to the committee on August 6th

5. How can people get involved?

Object to the planning proposal before August 6th and attend the rally on August 1st

6. Anything else you’d like to say.
Lots!……but sadly busy this week

Joanne Cross (Secretary NQForum)

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Of #Manchester and its carbon budget – interview with Dr Joe Blakey

Dr Joe Blakey is a Lecturer in Geography at The University of Manchester. His research focuses on the ways in which carbon accounting shapes politics surrounding decarbonisation. He also works with the Manchester CO2 Monitoring Group to maintain the aviation emissions inventory for flights departing Manchester Airport and tracks progress against the Manchester’s previous 2005-2020 carbon budget.


In simple terms, what is a carbon budget, and why does Manchester need one?

It’s a well-worn analogy, but a carbon budget is a diet plan. The ideas is that you restrict the amount of carbon we consume over a period of time. Limiting the amount of carbon we can emit is a really good idea because continuing to pump carbon in to the atmosphere is a little like having someone pile lots of blankets on you when you are already too hot. The planet is going to get hotter and we cannot simply kick these extra layers of carbon off. The effects of this are already being felt – the planet has already warmed by 1 degree against pre-industrial levels.

Ideally, we need to limit the amount of carbon we can use by as much as possible as soon as we can. The trouble is, carbon emissions underpin pretty much everything we do. So scientists have said that if we really must keep emitting carbon it would be best to limit warming to somewhere around 1.5 degrees (gain pre-industrial levels) to avoid the worst effects and definitely not more than 2 degrees. As such, there is a limited amount of carbon we can pump in to the atmosphere whilst staying within this safer (but still not safe) level of warming. But with a finite amount of carbon who gets to emit what?

Last year Manchester adopted a carbon budget of 15 MtCO2 (‘million tonnes of carbon dioxidet’), which is the amount of carbon that its allowed to use between 2018 and 2100. This is also the amount that the Tyndall Centre think is Manchester’s fair share to stay within 2 degrees of warming without gambling on yet-unrealised technologies to suck carbon out of the atmosphere. Manchester has not presently considered what role it could play in holding global average temperature to 1.5 degrees. We used just over 2 MtCO2 last year so we now have around 13 MtCO2 left for 2019 and onwards. If we keep emissions at this level we will have no budget left by 2025. We need to start cutting our emissions if the budget is going to last us. We’d be foolish to use all of our carbon budget now. That’s why Tyndall have said we should start making pretty substantial cuts – now of around 13.5%  – every year.

Everyone seems to be talking about ‘zero-carbon’, ‘net-zero’ or ‘carbon neutral’ lately. Manchester has said it will go zero-carbon by 2038. On the one hand, there’s good reason for this, but I also want to stress that it is not the most important thing to think or debate about and it risks becoming a major distraction. Given that we have such a small budget, it’s pretty obvious that we need to get our emissions down to pretty much nothing as soon as we can and live our lives that way subsequently. That’s where the idea of zero-carbon comes in and why it matters. An earlier target also gives a sense of urgency and facilitates less of a time span to keep emitting at high levels. But what matters even more than the date we go zero is the total (‘cumulative’) amount of emissions that we emit year on year from 2018 to 2100. We have got to stay within that 15 MtCO2 budget. It’s completely possible that we could completely blow this budget by a few million tonnes and then subsequently reduce our emissions to go zero by 2038, 2035, even 2030. Although this would require some pretty steep and unprecedented reductions. On the other hand, we could make our 15 MtCO2 budget last longer by using less now. This is why we should not be too distracted by the zero-carbon target date and should focus instead on how much of the budget we are using up each year.

We can see a similar issue with the Manchester’s previous budget even though we are not too far off track for that. Way back in 2009, the city’s climate change action plan Manchester: a Certain Future said that by the year 2020 emissions will be 41% of what they were in 2005 and this will probably be the case. This is all well and good if emission decrease in a straight line, but that’s not what happened. This is why in 2015, the CO2 group translated this end-year target in to a cumulative carbon budget of 41.7 MtCO2, counting all of the emissions released 2005-2020. As we struggled in the first few years it looks like we are going to slightly exceed this. If we decarbonise at the same rate across 19/20 and estimates for previous year do not change too much, we are probably going to use around 0.5 MtCO2 extra than budgeted. This would be a relatively small overshoot, but it is still an overshoot. My broader point here is that the 41% end-year target (much like the zero-carbon target date) is not the important thing to focus on as it is not the whole story. That’s like saying you are sticking to your diet on the basis of your actions today, but ignoring yesterday’s indulgence. The same is true for zero-carbon, we absolutely need to get there but what matters more is how much we emit between now and then – regardless of when ‘then’ may be.

In sum, the weight of our footprint is tipping the scales to ‘dangerous’. We are risking the planet’s health more than ever and its serious time we all got ourselves in to shape. To do so, we need to budget carbon and we need to stick to this budget. When we go ‘zero’ matters, but the more important thing is the amount of carbon we use in the meantime. We had 41.7 MtCO2 to last us 15 years (2005-2020) which will probably exceed, we have now got just 13 MtCO2* to last us 81 years (2019-2100). We really need to spend it wisely.

*Deducting emissions in 2018 that are already locked in.

What does the current budget include and what does it NOT include?

This is where it gets a bit complicated. But that’s okay, because our carbon footprints are complicated things! I’d argue we need to complicate simplistic understandings that do not grasp the complex role cities play in emissions all across the planet. So the more people that understand this the better. There’s a few things we can think about under two main categories: the first is about what share of the global emissions budget we get, the second is about what emissions we count as belonging to Manchester.

A really radical perspective would be to say that because the UK has used so much carbon historically to its gain – and often to the disadvantage of other nations – that the UK (and its cities) should not have an equal share to everyone else. However, we have emitted so much historic carbon that there would already be no budget left! This idea, historical emissions responsibility, is usually ignored, therefore. But if we can use less that 15 MtCO2 2018-2100 then that means nations, cities and people who have emitted less historically have that little bit more wiggle room in their own budgets or that global emissions are further limited, which is a good thing as that might go some way to limiting temperatures closer to 1.5 degrees.

Now, it’s also important to think about what emissions we count and assign to Manchester each year. As a Geographer, I’m keen to point out that different spaces, cities, regions – even nations – cannot be neatly parcelled off, despite carbon accountants’ best efforts! Manchester has people, goods and money flow into, out of and through it every single day. Imagine a cup of Kenyan coffee consumed in an American coffee chain in Manchester city centre by a visitor from Liverpool. There are a whole host of emissions that can be associated with this cup of coffee – but who gets the blame?

It’s interesting to compare this thought experiment to what we presently account. Picture a map of Manchester in your mind and draw a line around the political boundary. The carbon that is emitted within that line is what is counted – we call this ‘scope 1’ or direct emissions. We also count the emissions that are consequent of the electricity consumed within it, regardless of where it is generated. We call this ‘scope 2’ emissions. Combine the number of tonnes of carbon for scope 1 and scope 2 and you pretty much have the footprint of Manchester as we presently count it. So to return to the coffee analogy, we might count the emissions from the electricity that enables the grinding the beans, the preparing of the cup of coffee and heating the building, but none of the emissions that accompany the transport of the bean.

So you’re beginning to see that there are other ways that we can count our footprint. We can count the emissions that go in to producing and transporting the coffee – along the rest of the goods and services – that we consume in the city regardless of where they are emitted. This is a consumption-based or ‘scope 3’ footprint and it shows a different perspective on our carbon footprint. Equally, if something is produced in Manchester but is consumed elsewhere these emissions would not be counted under this approach. It’s a little harder to count these emissions but it’s important we have a rough idea of them and reduce them. The C40 reckon that cities footprints are around 60% larger under a consumption-based perspective. This makes sense as we’re primarily a service sector economy, much of our food and goods come from elsewhere. Similarly, I’d argue you might also count emissions consequent from investments made from Manchester. These are known as downstream-enabled emissions or income-based emissions. There’s not much research on this, but cities like Manchester and London would clearly have quite large footprints from this perspective.

Then there’s everyone’s favourite elephant in the room – aviation. Technically speaking, aviation would be included in a consumption-based inventory but it is worth mentioning separately given its significance. Everyone says that aviation is not including in the city’s zero-carbon budget, but in a way it is. It has been relegated to the background and it is not included in the total yearly figures for the city. Let me explain. The airport is within the city’s boundary, the city council own a 35.5% share of Manchester Airports Group (which also owns London Stansted and East Midlands airports), I’m told it has a massive effect on our local economy, whilst simultaneously flights serve the wider region, the economies of flight destinations and tourists from elsewhere. It is a messy, messy thing to say what responsibility the city should take for these flights. Most people will argue that quite intuitively we should only take responsibility for the emissions of flights taken by citizens of Manchester, but this is only somewhere in the region of around 4.5% of flights from Manchester Airport. A stark difference from our 35.5% ownership! I think this would be selling our capacity to intervene short. Though of course, it’s important to note that Manchester citizens take flights from elsewhere too.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. In order to set the city’s zero-carbon budget and to keep it in line with a probable chance of keeping within 2 degrees, the folks at Tyndall had to make certain assumptions about what happens to aviation (and shipping too). The assumption is, that for UK aviation as a whole, emissions should hold steady from 2018 until 2030 and then decrease linearly (in a straight line) until 2075. This is a huge amount of headroom for aviation – a budget of 1,262 MtCO2. That’s about the same as 84 Manchesters. The emissions profiles of all airports and indeed Manchester citizens needs to do the same. I really want to stress this point, the council have signed up to the budget of 15 MtCO2 for the city and that budget only holds if these assumptions about aviation are realised. So my solution here is to suggest that we start monitoring aviation emissions separately – and that’s what I’ve been doing working with colleagues in the Manchester CO2 Monitoring Group. Emissions from flights departing Manchester Airport were around 3.6 MtCO2 last year, so we know we need to hold it at or below this level until 2030 before expecting some pretty deep cuts. This works out as a carbon budget of about 125 MtCO2 for all flights leaving the airport between 2018 and 2075. This is the equivalent to Manchester’s budget around 8 times over, but again, this isn’t a simple comparison as the airport serves other cities. But the point is there are lots of roles the city can play and we need to keep them all on the table.

So as you can see – there’s not one ‘correct’ way of counting a carbon footprint – be that the footprint of the city or the airport. ‘Science’ does not have an answer for this. This is a political question and, I’d argue historically this has probably been a bit of a pragmatic question too in terms of what is manageable to measure. If you like, these perspectives all correspond to different levers we can pull in reducing our carbon footprint. But as far as I can tell, most of our efforts have gone into pulling the lever that corresponds to our scope 1 and 2 emissions. It strikes me that in a climate emergency you grasp every lever you can and pull them with as much might as you can muster. I’m not saying that there isn’t any action in these areas, there’s lots of good work. But we need a better sense of how our action in these other domains stacks up against what is necessary to mitigate planetary emissions and that’s hard to judge. Though I’d argue that our relative inaction in these other areas is nonetheless quite tangible. I look around and I see the new buildings going up, with heaps of consumption-based emissions, I see new burger restaurants, I see plans for airport expansions, I see a thriving financial-services sector and wonder where the money is being invested, I see the protests outside the Greater Manchester Pension Fund HQ in my hometown of Droylsden. We clearly need a tighter rein on what’s happening here. If we’re not doing very well with our scope 1 and 2 budget we should be trying much harder to pull these other levers of change too. I’d argue we have a moral imperative to.

One final thing I’d mention here is that it’s important to think about zero-carbon in the context of these other levers of decarbonisation. Imagine if we carried on measuring, monitoring and ‘managing’ our emissions as we do and that, incredibly, we managed to go zero-carbon yet at the same time China’s emissions were still high. Would this be their fault when we’re still investing over there and consuming the goods they produce? This is why the term makes me gravely uncomfortable – it risks ‘greenwashing’. I’d argue we’d be better off talking about zero-carbon energy for this reason over the catch all of ‘zero-carbon cities’.

How are we doing in meeting our current budget?

Not very well! In the latest annual report Dr Jaise Kuriakose of the Tyndall Centre noted that we reduced our scope 1 and 2 budget by 2.5% against the 13% we are aiming for. This is why we now have to aim to reduce emissions by 13.5% year on year. I think it’s important to keep the order of magnitude in mind here. We need to make cuts that are over 5 times greater. This will probably be even more than 5 times harder as we tend to do the easy stuff first. Emissions from flights departing Manchester Airport actually stayed pretty level between 2017 and 2018, so who knows, we might actually be within a chance of keeping these emissions steady until 2030 yet.

Given that, does it make any sense to push for a steeper target?

A difficult question. At some point we have got to question what role these targets are serving and whether they are effective. We’re clearly way off our present target which – as it’s aimed keeping us within 2 degrees warming – is arguably the minimum role we can play. Action just isn’t aligning with the targets and that needs to change first and foremost. But it would be wonderful if we could just use 10 MtCO2 2018-2100 or less, though given the present lack of progress this is highly unlikely. It would be pointless revising the target if it is just going to be ignored, so I’d argue that effort might be better spent making the city more accountable and more reactive to its present carbon budget. We need year-on-year emissions reductions to be as deep and as radical as possible and we should do everything we can. The previous carbon budget was about having slightly smaller portions of carbon. The 2018-2100 budget now needs to be full-on carbon rationing. We need to treat this emergency as an emergency.

It’s also interesting you mention a steeper target. Our emissions reductions will de facto have to be steeper to stay in budget if we keep up our current level of inaction. We’ve literally just seen that this year, because we’ve not made the cuts of 13% required we need to make 13.5% year on year reductions. We probably won’t make the target this year and the target will be steeper again next year. The longer we delay the steeper – and therefore less feasible – this reduction gets.

This means making some uncomfortable choices right now, sacrificing at least some short-term economic benefits where we can without compromising the wellbeing of your everyday citizen if we’re really serious about our reductions. If we get our reductions up to scratch and we can realise we can make even deeper cuts then let’s go for it, but presently this appear a pipe dream. I would also argue that we should be pulling some of those other levers too and pressing for action on them, especially if we’re failing on the usual front, which I guess leads me on to your next question…

e. What sorts of things would we have to start doing that we aren’t doing, that we aren’t even TALKING about to get to a better target.

I’m going to deliver my answer to this one as a list. I’ll take the target as meaning ‘avoiding dangerous levels of warming’ – which is surely the best target!:

  1. 2018-2038 is a long period and we’re already way off track. I think we need more short term focus as part of this and that Manchester should be held to account over shorter sub-budgets. We especially need action in the near term.
  2. I understand the want to increase ambition in Manchester. However, instead of pressing for an earlier zero-carbon date, pressing for a smaller cumulative emissions budget would be more effective in limiting dangerous warming (but the likelihood of this translating in to action given current levels of inaction is perhaps questionable).
  3. We should think about the ways we can repay historically low-emitting nations in other ways if we can no longer make good on our historical emissions debt.
  4. We should stop talking about our scope 1 and 2 footprint as ‘our carbon footprint’. Simply put, it isn’t. It’s one perspective on what our carbon footprint is and as I discussed above there are other levers we can pull. This general assumption depoliticises other perspectives on how we can act.
  5. Closely related to this, we need to make other levers of decarbonisation visible – divestment, consumption-based emissions, aviation, transport beyond the city boundary and so forth. These need to be made visible, we need to understand their role in decarbonisation and we need to act on them.
  6. We should talk more specifically about what the current zero-carbon ambition actually refers to, which is mostly to do with how we heat and fuel the city, it should not be a city branding exercise. We are currently nowhere near zero-carbon and if we did become ‘zero-carbon’ we would probably still be responsible for other carbon emissions.
  7. I think we need to stop focusing on decarbonisation as solely a collective pursuit. It is, sure, and this helps to bring people together which is good. But we talk so often about decarbonisation being a common responsibility we forget that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change enshrined the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. In other words, there’s a whole politics to how we divide up responsibility for action that science does not have the answer to and that we should debate more in deciding what nation, what business, what person does what. For instance, I would argue that the people who profit most have a greater capacity to act. The world’s richest 10% are responsible for almost half of consumption-based emissions. Sure, turning the lights off here and there will help, but not to the same extent as if the top 10% stop leading carbon-intensive lifestyles. We all have a part to play but some have an ability – or an ought – to play a much bigger part! If you earn more than about £53,000 before tax you’re in the top 10% of earners in the UK, but in reality this threshold is much lower given inequalities between the average UK wage and the rest of the world. There’s more people in this category than you might initially think.
  8. Finally, targets are a promise for tomorrow that may go unfulfilled. We need action that corresponds to targets too.

What would an open and transparent process to discuss changing the target involve, in your opinion? Who would do what when to make that process open and transparent.

The way in which the climate has been governed in this city over the past decade might be called governance beyond the state. In other words, a group of stakeholders comes together to represent the city, decides what we ought to do and makes recommendations to the City Council. As part of this, expert advice from the Universities – and in particular the Tyndall Centre – plays a key role.

Getting the right people together to decide on the fate of their lives is clearly a good idea, but the idea of a stakeholder is actually really complicated. Who ultimately is a stakeholder? Is it people who have knowledge about climate change, is it someone who will be affected by the decisions, is it someone that just lives in the place? Might we argue that communities subject to drought are also stakeholders? What about species under the threat of extinction that cannot speak for themselves? There’s so many ways of cutting the cake of who is a stakeholder. Even when you have ‘stakeholders’ in a room they’re not all going to agree on absolutely everything but decisions nonetheless have to get made. As much as we might try to include people – and we should absolutely try – there will always be voices that go unheard. In short, there’s not one way that we can best govern the city’s climate change policy so I have no perfect answer for you here. This is why there will always be a place for activism to make the unheard heard and the better governance arrangement is surely the one that is receptive to that.

So that’s why I’m not going to offer an all-singing all-dancing vision of a ‘process’ as my suggestion would be imperfect too. But acknowledging the limitations of the stakeholder process can surely push us in a helpful direction. I feel this should be the central principal of how proceed and this should mean three things: that the city is open to suggestions of how better to do things, that citizens hold the process to account and that, despite these difficulties, we still give it a really good shot at being inclusive. But this of course – as you mention – requires transparency on all levels, be this in providing minutes, holding public meetings or providing a diversity of data. Science can help to this end by showing us multiple perspective on our carbon footprint and reduction targets. This at least it creates a broader space of debate about what levers we should be pulling, to what extent and when that is not confined to meeting rooms.

Posted in Interview, Manchester City Council | 2 Comments


Manchester City Council is NOT intending to undertake any additional consultation on the controversial Great Ancoats St raod-changes, which would see existing cycle lanes axed. Despite the best efforts of many many citizens, and the unanimous agreement of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee last week that the consultation was inadequate, the Council intends to plough on.  Last week the NESC said the matter would be referred to ‘the Executive’. Well, in this case it turns out to that that means one officer and one councillor.

More reaction to this soon, but for now, the full text of the email sent by the relevant Executive Member for the Environment, Angeliki Stogia (Labour, Whalley Range), to a resident.

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Greater #Manchester Climate Emergencies, Pension Funds and… shark jumping?

Two pieces of news and one mild-by-MCFly-standards rant.

News the first –
1. It seems that the airport-expanding greenfields-building chaps (and it is mostly chaps) at Greater Manchester Combined Authority have decided that they’d best join the crowd and declare a ‘climate emergency’.   According to this exclusive report in the Local Government Chronicle, the declaration will be made today.

Greater Manchester will then become the fourth combined authority to have declared a climate emergency, after West Midlands CA did so earlier this month,

Liverpool City Region declared on 28 May and West Yorkshire CA declared on 27 June.

News the second –

2. Activists are going to gather in Tameside to protest outside the meeting of the Fossil-Fuel-loving Greater Manchester Pension Fund (see MCFLy previous post) . As per a tweet-

@FFFManchester is taking at team tram trip to Droylesden to encourage Manchester pension fund to divest. See you there at 12:30. Deets here: facebook.com/events/9050012


3.  Can this get any more shark-jumpy?   Who will next declare a Climate Emergency?  Virgin Airlines? BP?  The Global Warming Policy Foundation?

I know it is obvious, but it bears repeating.

In. The. Absence. Of. Innovation. From. Social. Movements. Away. From. Emotacyclic-Peak-Emotional-Resonance-Moments. Towards. Granular- Day-In-Day-Out-Engagement. With. Local. Policy. And. Local. Policymakers. We. Will. Probably. End. Up. With. The. Same. Result.

And even if we do all that, we’re still probably toast. But let’s at least give ourselves a fighting chance? FFS.

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Campaigners call on GM Pension Fund to help tackle the climate crisis (Fossil Free Greater Manchester)

From a press release,  which doesn’t mention that in its Climate Emergency Declaration last week, Manchester City Council committed to the following (Item 19)  Through our role on GMPF, encourage divestment in fossil fuels as early as possible


Campaigners will demand that Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) join the growing movement to tackle climate change when they gather at the Fund’s offices at 12.30 on 19 July .

The Fund is the largest local government pension fund in the UK. [1] According to a 2018 report, over 10% of the fund – up to £2 billion – is invested in oil, gas and mining companies, making it the dirtiest pension fund in the country. [2]

“We need to act together to tackle climate change. GMPF is totally out of touch with the public mood and has no clear plan for urgently taking pensioners’ money out of fossil fuels” said Fossil Free Greater Manchester member Stuart Bowman [3].

Scientists have been warning of the climate crisis for years. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that immediate action is required to limit global warming [4].

Parliament, the Labour Party and several Greater Manchester councils have declared a climate emergency. The GM Combined Authority want the region to be one of the greenest places in Europe. Young people are demanding urgent action and both the Governor of the Bank of England and the Pensions Minister have warned of the danger of continuing to invest in fossil fuels as we move towards renewable energy. Yet still GMPF invests in companies that are driving climate change.

“The carbon budgets we developed for Greater Manchester are intended to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature objectives. To keep within this limit 80% of exploitable coal, oil and gas reserves have to remain under the ground. We need to tackle both the demand for fossil fuels and the supply and divesting is an effective way to do this.” Dr John Broderick, Tyndall Centre on Climate Change, University of Manchester.

Bowman added “Despite the changing public mood, GMPF is failing to act, putting pensioners’ money at risk and adding to the climate crisis. Where it was once considered a leader, GMPF is now lagging behind other pension funds in its glacial response to the climate emergency”.

A growing number of local authority pension funds have already begun to sell their investments in fossil fuels, including South Yorkshire, Lambeth and Haringey. Globally over 1,000 institutions have done so, with commitments to divest over US$9 trillion. [5]



[1] The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) is the UK’s biggest local authority pension fund with over 370,000 members and over £22 billion in assets.

[2] See Fuelling the Fire.

[3] Fossil Free Greater Manchester is a coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF to:

Make the fund fossil free within the next 2 years.

Immediately move all investments out of the most polluting fossil fuels (coal, tar sands & fracking).

Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester.

[4] The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch) is the leading world body on climate change. Its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ published on 7th October states that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by 45% by 2030 or we risk catastrophic change. It has been estimated that over 80% of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to limit global warming.

[5] See 1000+ Divestment commitments.

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