Christian Climate Action, solastalgia and Manchester: Interview with Hannah Malcolm

Hannah Malcolm is a theologian, living in Moss Side. Today at Eco Fest in Whalley Range she gave a talk on solastalgia, climate grief and the Church.
Afterwards, she kindly sat down and gave a short video interview about the Christian Climate Action group (first meeting held last night) and how to get involved.

Her twitter handle (mentioned in the video) is @hannahmmalcolm and the email for the group is  christianclimateactionMCR@gmail.com.

PS Also check out Hannah’s perceptive take on the “sexy priest” in Fleabag!!

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Better Buses campaign for Greater #Manchester

Pascale from the Better Buses campaign kindly answered some questions about the Better Buses campaign and how you can get involved…

1. When was the Better Buses campaign set up, by who? Who is supporting it?
betterbusesThe campaign was set up and is backed by We Own It, an organisation which campaigns for public ownership of public services. With this campaign, we’re calling on Andy Burnham to make a decision for a better, publicly controlled bus network as they have in London. We’ve built a coalition of amazing organisations and groups who are campaigning together, including Unite and Unison North West, ACORN, Better Buses for Bury, Friends of the Earth Manchester, Keep our NHS Public GM, Steady State Manchester and more!

2. What have you done so far and what is coming up?
We’ve had our first public meeting, where 150 came, and met with council leaders all across GM in our action week, which shows how much people care about getting a better bus network. We’ve released research on the £18.4 million going to shareholder payouts every year in the North West, which amounts of £1.49 billion over the past ten years across the UK. We’re going to be working towards the public consultation, where we want to mobilise everyone across GM to tell Andy Burnham that we need and deserve better, publicly controlled buses.

3. In a nutshell, what would ‘victory’ for the Better Buses campaign look like? Is it more buses on more routes? Is it low carbon/electric buses? Some combination? What are some of the wins that could be achieved in the next year?
Public control, or regulation as it’s also known, would mean local authorities plan the network and can demand certain standards. Local authorities say what buses are on what routes, and they offer contracts to companies to run our buses. This uses public money much more efficiently, as a lot less is going to shareholder payouts, which means more buses on more routes, and it means cheaper fares. We need a comprehensive network to get people out of cars definitely. With local authorities accountable to us setting the standards, it means we can transition to a clean fleet much quicker, as we are seeing happen in London. It also means better working conditions for drivers, and audiovisual announcements to make buses more accessible. Success for Better Buses for Greater Manchester is a regulated bus network which is run for the community, not profit.

4. If people get involved, what sorts of things would they end up doing (letter writing? lobbying? marching? other?)
We’d love people to get involved beyond signing the petition (though that really helps too) we have a volunteer organising group which meets to plan the campaign and take actions in their local authority, which people can join, and we welcome more organisations signing up to the coalition to support the campaign, symbolically or physically! We’ve got big plans and we need help, so writing letters to Andy Burnham is one action of many. If you think your action could convince Andy Burnham to side with passengers and staff, then please reach out and say hello. I’m at Pascale@betterbusesgm.org.uk

5. Anything else you want to say
Please sign and share the petition, follow us on Twitter and say hello to get involved however you can! The bus companies do not want a publicly controlled bus network, so we have lots of work and lots to win!

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The proposed format of “What Next for Climate Action in Manchester?” Thurs 23 May – comments sought.

Next Thursday, 23rd May there’s an exciting and potentially extremely useful meeting in Manchester. Held at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St (behind the Central Library) it’s called “What Next for Climate Action in Manchester?” and will have five panellists (from Youth Strike for Climate, Extinction Rebellion, Rising Up! Manchester Families, the GM Unite the Union Community Branch climate group and Climate Emergency Manchester (the host organisation).  It will ALSO have time for mingling before and after, and time for discussion and questions.  Below is the detailed format of the event (with rationale for the things we’re doing).  PLEASE let us know what you think. Do you have experience of something we are suggesting doing not working? Do you have better ideas?!

7pm
Mingling from 7pm.
Volunteers giving name badges and “place you live” badges (both optional)
Asking people who live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries to sign the climate emergency petition.
Proactively encouraging people to mingle – this up on the powerpoint screen: ”
Petition sheets on table.

7.28, two minute warning to take seats

7.30 welcome to the meeting
“Thank you all so much for coming out tonight.  We always ask for governments and corporations to innovate in the face of climate breakdown.  Social movements need to innovate too. Recently, Extinction Rebellion Manchester started a meeting by having everyone turn a person near them they didn’t know and listen, and be listened to. It works so well to build connections. So, turn to someone. You have ninety seconds to talk to them. Then you listen to them for ninety seconds. No reporting back, just connecting. When  the first lot of ninety seconds are up I’m going to raise both my arms like this. When you see me do that, please stop talking and raise your arms. Then we swap

(active listening)

Thank you for doing that. So housekeeping  – fire exits behind me and out the front door. If there’s an alarm, it’s the real deal. Toilets are on this floor, to the right.  There is an A4 sheet on your chair, with all the contact details of all the speakers, and of other environmental groups in the city, along with a calendar of upcoming events. If your event is not on there a) sorry and b) email or tweet it to us. If you don’t have a smart phone, write it down on a bit of paper, give it to a steward, and we will announce it at the end.

By the way, there should NOT be anything else on your chairs.

The meeting is being live-streamed and recorded (but camera will be pointing at “the stage” The hashtag is #whatnextMcr.

Each speaker has been asked to answer a specific question within their five minutes.

[btw, the 5 questions are these-

  • Youth Strike – what is it that adults can do, concretely, to help the students in the coming months?
  • Parents – how do parents speak loudly to attract other parents to the cause, and to influence policy?
  • Extinction Rebellion Manchester – how can the colourful disruption of XR help with the nitty gritty work of not just declaring a climate emergency, but also making sure policies are implemented?
  • Unite Community Branch – how do people within and outside the union movement work to make sure that the Just Transition is convincing to those working in high fossil-fuel use sectors?
  • Climate Emergency Manchester – so, you get your 4000 signatures, and a debate in Manchester City Council. So what? Then what? [CEM interview here]

Each speaker is going to get a one minute warning  at four minutes, and then at exactly five minutes, I’ll start applauding, and you all join in.  Then you talk to the person next to you for a minute about what you’ve heard, then four one minute we’ll get people to shout out short (short!) questions. Then on to the next speaker. After all the speakers have spoken, those shouted out questions will be answered.

If you have a question that you can send as a tweet, please do that!  We have someone who is going to compile them for the relevant speakers, and the earlier they see them, the more time they have to give a considered answer.

We will finish the formal part of this meeting at 2045, so people who need to catch buses, get home for babysitters etc have a chance to talk to other people, including the speakers.  You are free to mingle until 9, but then we have to be out of the room.

Let’s practice that five minute deadline applause. When the applause dies down, the first speaker’s five minutes start!  (Claps)

First speaker has their five minutes (with a “one minute” piece of paper warning and a five minute applause cut off).

“So, turn to the person next to you. What did you think? If you have a question, get help making it shorter! If you can tweet it to us at @climateemergmcr, even better!”

One minute of questions being shouted out.

Next speaker, next discussion/questions until done.
8.15
After final speaker  the following

“Each panellist is now going to give short responses to the questions they were asked.” (hopefully a couple of minutes each)

“Thanks everyone.  There’s still plenty of time for further discussion. Take a couple of minutes to turn to the person next to you, discuss if you’ve got questions for the whole panel, or individuals.  There’s a three sentence limit on questions – no speeches.  We’re going to ask the panel to be as brief as they can too. If your question doesn’t get asked tonight, a) sorry and b)  it WILL get answered by our panellists afterwards, and put online, we promise.

Then ask for show of hands. (Pick women, non-usual suspects first. Enforce three sentence rule).

At 8.42
“Thanks, we’ve run out of time for the Q and A.. Each panellist gets time for 3 final sentences.  Then we will close the formal part of the meeting, but please stick around, talk to some other people, take the literature from the tables, sign the petition. If you can afford to donate towards the costs of the meeting, please do. But most of all, get involved, stay involved. Thanks again for coming.”

[three sentence closing from each speaker]

Does this make sense? Is this unrealistic? What would you propose to do differently?

Here, fwiw, are the draft pages of the handout (don’t circulate please – there will be additional info, and some effort to prettify…

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No change on environment and climate roles at #Manchester City Council

At 10AM this morning in the Manchester Town Hall, the Annual meeting of the Manchester City Council took place. During this meeting a new Lord Mayor, Abid Latif Chohan was elected.

Angeliki Stogia was also re-elected as the Executive Member for the Environment. Stogia was elected in 2017 as Executive Member of Environment and Skills and has been elected to continue as Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport for 2019-2020. This role includes work on Green issues including climate change, Manchester contracts and parking, planning policy, infrastructure and transport policy including highways.

From Manchester Climate Monthly reporter Pippa Neill.

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Prof Kevin Anderson on @GretaThunberg: “she cuts through the fluff and nonsense”

Professor Kevin Anderson has praised the 16 year old Swedish school student Greta Thunberg, for her communication skills, subtle humour and ability to cut through “fluff and nonsense.”

During a wide-ranging interview on Monday 13th May, Anderson, of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre, again rebutted insinuations that he wrote her speeches.

“I have nothing to do with writing her speeches. She writes her speeches, not her parents, no-one else – she writes them. But she then asks some perfectly reasonable scientific questions, from a really quite solid position of knowledge and understanding. So they’re like debates between colleagues – that’s how I see it with her.”

See the clip from the interview here.

Here is a transcript.

12:30 Do you worry that parts of Greta Thunberg’s message are being selectively ignored and other parts which are more acceptable to the green capitalists are being amplified?

That’s inevitable. I mean, I wouldn’t expect anything else, and I would be genuinely shocked if we got anything else. Of course that’s what people will use – they’ll use the bits of the message that they want to hear and they’ll ignore the rest.

Perhaps slightly flippantly, it doesn’t worry me too much because I think she’s much brighter than they are, and probably has much more staying power.

I think they’re underestimating her.

I think they’re underestimating her, but also something, you may have noticed, I’ve been quite involved to some extent with her and her family. They came to us later on when I was working in Sweden and she comes and asks me questions, science questions. That’s all. So it’s like working with a colleague here.  So the interview I gave to Der Spiegel a little while ago was making that point exactly. They said am I writing her speeches. I have nothing to do with writing her speeches. She writes her speeches, not her parents, no-one else, she writes them. But she then asks some perfectly reasonable scientific questions, from a really quite solid position of knowledge and understanding. So they’re like debates between colleagues – that’s how I see it with her.

She’s strong, and she’s knowledgeable, and she is obviously a remarkably good communicator in a way that people had not expected.

They think Asperger’s means unable to understand emotions, but I don’t think it does.

I love watching her sometimes when she’s filmed, and you get these little smiles, when she has these little bits of humour, and they are very very funny.

I know the ones you mean.

And I feel sometimes for her dad, because she makes little comments, and he says something and she slightly disagrees. And her father’s a lovely man and he’s really good at making sure that she’s got her feet on the ground and she’s not being pushed too far. Which is very challenging to do I would have thought, given the position that she’s in .  But I love that interplay that you see sometimes you see, between the two of them.

But my concern had been of course that we put too much pressure on her and that [people would assume] “Greta Thunberg is going to resolve these issues”. And as she points out, that’s not her role at all. She’s a catalyst. She’s an informed and robust catalyst for change, but the change doesn’t come from her. The changes come from us all collectively making our contribution. But I think she’s a difficult voice to ignore, and she cuts through the fluff and the nonsense in a way that we’ve needed for a long time. It was really I think in some respects I think the role and responsibility of the academics to do this and we haven’t, we’ve fundamentally failed.  At a collective level I think we’ve been pretty much co-opted.

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Interview with Hannah Malcolm, initiator of Christian Climate Action in #Manchester #solastalgia

The latest “interview with an activist” – this time with Hannah Malcolm

1. Who are you? (background, education, whatever you think is relevant)
I live in Moss Side/Rusholme (Moss Side for voting, Rusholme on Google Maps!) with my spouse and our dog called Apple Juice. For my day job I coordinate a national education project called God and the Big Bang. We run workshops for students and training for teachers on improving dialogue between science and faith. My background is in studying Theology, but before I moved to Manchester I lived in an Anglican-Franciscan community in Dorset called Hilfield Friary where I managed a (large) kitchen, supported the environmental education/outreach project and did a lot of digging!

2. There have been a lot of efforts over the decades to get churches generally more active on climate change – I’m thinking of Operation Noah, the Pope’s encyclical and doubtless many other things I’ve not heard of. What can we learn from those efforts, what seems to you have worked/not worked? What should people of faith be doing differently?
There are lots of Christian organisations who have worked incredibly hard to change church culture around climate change, biodiversity, and environmental justice. The most successful work has been done by getting to the heart of what motivates people by

christian climate action

talking directly to the stories of faith that we share. I often come across the perspective (held by both religious and non-religious people) that faith is something private, apolitical, and personal, which belongs behind closed doors or in places of worship. The problem with this is that many faiths, Christianity included, are public and political at their historical core, and it is hard to tell those stories without seeing their social consequences! For me, helping fellow Christians tap into the world changing love on which our faith is built is vital for helping sustain movements for climate action. When we act out of love rather than guilt or fear we are less vulnerable to burn out or feelings of bitterness.

3. You’re giving a talk at the Eco Fest in Whalley Range on 18 May with the title “Climate Change, Solastagia and the Church”. Without too many spoilers, what is solastalgia, how does it connect to the Church and climate change?
The word ‘solastalgia‘ was coined by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht to name the feeling of “homesickness when you’re still at home” – the grief associated with climate breakdown and negative changes to the places we live. I will be talking about the ways we need to understand and communicate that feeling. Lots of us are experiencing it without much outlet, and the most politically and economically marginalised around the world are already dealing with the trauma associated with this grief on a massive, overwhelming scale.

4. Have you signed the “Climate Emergency Manchester” petition? If so, how do you think people who have signed it could encourage their friends and acquaintances to sign? And what should organisations be doing to get more signatures?
I have signed it. A frustrating reality of online petitions is that even a very minor barrier (like having to register to sign) can put people off. In this instance I suspect that having people sign a physical piece of paper might get more signatures than sharing a link: it makes it easier, makes people more accountable, and makes them feel part of something bigger since they’re being invited to sign in the presence of others.

5. Anything else you’d like to say
I am in the process of setting up a Manchester branch of the Christian Climate Action movement, which will aim to support other groups like Extinction Rebellion who are carrying out non-violent direct action (NVDA) as well as helping churches to think through NVDA in the context of our faith. Get in touch if you’re interested! My twitter handle is @hannahmmalcolm.

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Interview with Professor Kevin Anderson on the IPCC, @ExtinctionR, Greta Thunberg, hope and much else

kevin anderson

Professor Kevin Anderson

Professor Kevin Anderson has spoken out on the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report, the deafening silence of most academics on the climate emergency, Greta Thunberg and much else.  With his typical robustness, Kevin argues that there is much to be done, but it depends on us having courage to think and act (very) differently.  He gives extremely robust but simultaneously nuanced criticism of the official organisations at the international and national level, and lays out a clear set of actions we can (must) take.

The interview was conducted on Monday 13th May 2019 in Manchester, and is posted in full in the three videos below. The questions are given below (a transcript of this would be GREAT – if you have time and inclination to type it up, please get in touch via mcmonthly@gmail.com). Apologies for the lighting: oops. Fortunately, the audio comes through fine.

For other video interviews with Kevin, see here, here and here. And a transcript of a 2012 one.

Meanwhile, if you live, work or study in Manchester, please sign the petition calling on Manchester City Council to declare a climate emergency.  If you are in Greater Manchester, you may want to come to the What next for Climate Action in Manchester? meeting happening on Thursday 23rd May from 7pm at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St.

International

00:42 Let’s with the IPCC 1.5 degrees report. What is missing from it/wrong about it?

05:00 Is the IPCC fit for purpose?

06:40 Were you surprised by the traction the 1.5 degrees got?

07: 40 Is the UNFCCC as a dead process?

12:30 Do you worry that parts of Greta Thunberg’s message are being selectively ignored and other parts which are more acceptable to the green capitalists are being amplified?

National
18:20 Extinction Rebellion – your opinion

Part two

00:15  At a seminar last week and you expressed a certain amount of displeasure with the Committee on Climate Change report and the response to it from most academics. Could you recap that, being aware that you’re now being filmed…

10: 45 In terms of empty words – the parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency – a footnote in history or a turning point?

1150  Fracking protesters seem to be winning…?

15:30 At the recent Mayor’s climate summit there was talk of “the gap” between ambition and actual policy. Is this simply normalising failure and getting people used to the shrugging of the shoulders?

19:00 I’m sure you’re aware that there is a Climate Emergency Manchester petition: is it actually physically possible for a connected – both internationally and nationally -city like Manchester, with all of the political will – do you see any viable pathway by which it could get within any meaningful distance of zero carbon in 10 and a half years? You’re allowed to say “no, it’s a pipe dream” – we’re adults here.

Part Three

01:25 Two questions. Is it  time that academics and  researchers took their gloves off (esp those who have access to government). How do we sell a reduction in material consumption to the millions who’ve been raised to believe that more stuff = better life? (shared social purpose?)

08:25 Have you read Animal Farm?

0945 The thorny question of hope. Two quotes come to mind. One is from  Greta “I don’t want your hope, I want your panic.” The other is from the NASA scientist Kate Marvel, who says what we need is courage, not hope. What’s your take? Do you feel the need for hope, and if so, where do you get it from.

1315 Anything else you want to say? Anything you were afraid I would ask – imagine I asked it.

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