The Whalley Range Climate Action group works to support local people and organisations to take individual and/or collective action in Whalley Range on the climate emergency and to campaign for the Government and the council to act urgently.
Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings, informal get togethers where everyone has the opportunity to share information, discuss issues and ideas and plan new activities.
We also have action groups working outside the meetings on healthy streets and clean air, trees , climate stalls at local events, film nights, local traders , and a climate justice project supporting reforestation in Zambia. You can join an action group or start a new one.
We will meet on the third Saturday of every month in 2020 – 11 – 1 followed by a bring and share veggie/vegan lunch at JNR8 Youth and Community Centre, 82 Cromwell Avenue, Whalley Range, M16 0BG.
The first two meetings are on January 18 and February 15. All welcome.
First as a handy and repostable image, below that as p text.
CLIMATE EVENTS IN MANCHESTER
No guarantee of completeness – if you know of more climate-related events in Manchester, email
firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘event’ in the subject header. Appearance here is not an endorsement of the event, btw.
Monday 6th, 6pm XR Manchester social at The Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor St
Wednesday 8th, 10am- 12noon Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee Meeting, Town Hall Annexe. Climate Emergency Declaration, clean air plan “etc” on the agenda. Meet with CEM folk at 9am at the Waterhouse, (Wetherspoons pub) on Princess St beforehand…
Wednesday 8th, 7pm- 9pm Launch of second “Hung Drawn and Quarterly” report of CEM, examining the Council’s (lack of) progress. Come meet other concerned citizens! Upstairs room, Briton’s Protection pub
Friday 10th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library
Monday 13th, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB
Friday 17th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library
Monday 20th, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB
Tuesday 21st from 6pm Green Drinks: “2019, the year that was, or the year that could have been? – What next for the environmental movement in Manchester?” The Old Monkey Pub, 90/92 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4GX
Thursday 23rd, 10am City Council’s Climate Subgroup meeting. Open to public. Town Hall Annexe.
Thursday 23rd, 6.30- 8.30p mA People’s Spatial Framework (hosted by SteadyState Manchester). Methodist Central Hall
Sat 25th (time tbc) Manchester Friends of the Earth Strategy planning session, Annual General Meeting and Social Green Fish, Oldham St
Friday 24th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library
Monday 27th,, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB
Weds 29th, 6.30-9pm Doing Tech for Good: How can we build an active movement in Manchester? The Federation, Federation Street, Federation House, M4 2AH
Thurs 30th, 1230-2pm Tyndall Manchester seminar ‘Atmosfear: Communicating the Effects of Climate Change on Extreme Weather’ by Professor David Schultz.C21, in the Pariser Building on Sackville Street
Friday 31st, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library
Green Drinks Manchester has been around in its current incarnation for three years. Its core organiser, Tudor Baker, kindly answers some questions. Also – upcoming useful event!
1. When was your group founded? What does it do/how does it do it?
We held our first Green Drinks Manchester event three years ago, in January 2017. We set it up under the umbrella of the worldwide Green Drinks movement that has been going since around 2003. The uniting principle of the movement is to host free, casual and self-organised events that bring people together to discuss environmental news.
In short, Green Drinks is about getting people together.
2. What have been the group’s major successes and failures over the last year or so?
We have had some brilliant events in 2019, a particular high point being our May event that we hosted in Patagonia’s Manchester store with Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technology. After this event people walked away feeling genuinely positive about the future – a feeling not easily attained when you think about the environment for too long.
On the flip side, the group is not in the position that we originally hoped it would have been back when we held the first event. Three years ago we envisioned Green Drinks Manchester as a large group with frequent events that regularly bring in over 50 people a month. While some events meet this standard, others are small gatherings in the pub, although in a way that is what Green Drinks is all about.
On the whole, positive feedback along the way has inspired us and reassured us that the simple act of getting people together works wonders for people’s morale and sense of belonging. After every event, small or large, I feel energised and glad that people had the chance to come and meet like=minded folk.
3. If people got involved in your group, what sorts of things would they find themselves doing?
As an organiser, they would be bringing Manchester’s environmental community together. In practice this means anything concerned with coordinating events. This might mean booking venues, finding speakers and generally helping to increase the reach of Green Drinks through social media and sharing the word.
As an attendee the role is much more straightforward – meet people and build networks. People are of course welcome to do either (or both!)
4. What has your group got planned (and how might it contribute to maintaining morale and momentum in the climate movement in Manchester)
In January we are hosting a review of 2019 and trying to work out how the environmental movement can move forward in 2020 to replicate the progress made and learn from mistakes. Like any Green Drinks, the event is open to anyone and the topic is set to provide a starting point for discussion rather than a specific theme that all attendees must know about.
Looking ahead from that, we have mapped out our 2020 schedule and will put on events every two months to showcase the best of Manchester’s environmental scene and continue bringing people together.
5. What would you like to see the “climate movement in Manchester” do more generally, both to maintain morale and momentum, but also to increase its effectiveness?
The climate movement needs to keep meeting up to share ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Connecting, hearing stories and learning what other people and groups are doing is hugely inspiring. I implore anyone in the movement to keep meeting people and to build on the incredible year that has just been. There is a huge amount of passion that exists in the city and 2019 showed that we are better when we work together.
2019, the year that was, or the year that could have been? – What next for the environmental movement in Manchester?
Tuesday 21st January from 6pm
The Old Monkey Pub, 90/92 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4GX
Exclusive! Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Manchester Climate Monthly can now revealed details of all requests from the City Council to the arts organisation HOME asking it to do more to create a “low carbon culture.” Brace yourself – here it is.
We asked –
“For the period 1 January 2019 to the present date, please provide copies of correspondence between the City Council and Home where the City Council has asked HOME to
a) do more on creating a low carbon culture (this, after all, is the second goal of the City’s 2009 Climate Change Action Plan)
And the reply was
“I can confirm that there is no correspondence which directly relates to this.”
b) consider pulling adverts which come from fossil fuel intensive industries (airlines, fossil fuel extractors).
And the reply was
“Please see response to question 2 (a).”
c) discussions/briefing papers/policy documents/minuted meetings between the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure and other members/officers of the Council where a) and b) were considered but not then enacted.
And the reply was
“I can confirm that there is no correspondence in relation to this.”
So. The City Council has been giving HOME 1.3 million pounds a year (1).
And making NO EFFORTS – or even talking about making an effort – to get them to up their activity on creating a low carbon culture.
This, this is the “leadership” we have during a climate emergency.
You have to weep for this city, this species.
(1) MCFLy has no beef with that. They give the Football Museum loads of dosh too. A local government is there, in part, to make sure that culture and sport keep happening. What MCFly DOES find extraordinary is that the City Council seems unwilling (unable?) to use its influence even with organisations it funds. What hope is there for other organisations – these 60 businesses you will be hearing about – where it has less influence, if it won’t even flex its muscles when it can? Or is this all just business as usual, complacent greenwash?
This email interview below, conducted with Elidh Robb, a climate activist currently based in Brussels, takes a slightly different format from the usual ones. Elidh was sent the questions as a batch, and replied. I (Marc Hudson, editor of MCFly) replied and then Elidh had the opportunity to respond. This was done early last week, before the Madrid COP (number 25 – the clue is in the number) ended as a damp squib.
The issues raised here – about what the climate “movement” (if such a beast can be said to exist) focuses on next, how it deploys its limited resources, are crucial. If you have comments – especially disagreements – please use the comments field!
My name is Eilidh Robb, I’m 24 years old and originally from Scotland, although I’m now living in Brussels. For the last three years I’ve been volunteering with the UK Youth Climate Coalition in various roles, campaigning at the national and international level. Alongside this I completed a Masters degree in Global Environmental Law & Governance, and I now work for an environmental NGO in Belgium.
My name is Marc Hudson. I am old – I remember clearly the climate change issue (or ‘the greenhouse effect’ as it was then also known) back in 1988. Since 1991 I have been convinced that our species would not respond with the necessary actions. I’ve recently completed a PhD at the University of Manchester, which looked at how Australian incumbent actors stopped and then watered down carbon pricing between 1989 and 2011. As well as doing Manchester Climate Monthly (since 2011, and before that Manchester Climate Fortnightly 2008-2010) I am actively involved in a group called Climate Emergency Manchester.
Eilidh: In both my experience, and learning (having studied the UNFCCC) the UN climate talks like most international level negotiations are a double edged sword. On the one hand, and particularly having attended 4 conferences myself, it’s impossible not to be furious and frustrated at the lack of ambition, progress and urgency when watching national representatives argue over a single word. However, on the other hand, this space (although definitely not perfect) is a really unique opportunity to change the way we approach the climate emergency globally, and although it has a long way to go, this kind of global agreement to actually get up and do something is pretty significant. What this process lacks in radical ambition it makes up for in setting precedent and forcing global governments to recognise that this issue won’t simply go away.
Marc: If you measure it by opportunities for fine speeches and activist opportunities, a massive success. If you measure it by how much effect it has had on human emissions of greenhouse gases, its failure has been tragic (and if the consequences weren’t so biblical, I’d use the word comical).
I’d also argue that if the UNFCCC process were fit for purpose for global-movement-building, we wouldn’t be in this mess. I’d point to research [“The ‘efficacy dilemma’of transnational climate activism: the case of COP21 ” by Joost De Moor (full disclosure, Joost is a colleague/friend) about the failure of the Paris process to build that international movement. I think that it COULD be, but it hasn’t been, and that the tail might be wagging the dog- because we can do these stunts, and we have done them – we think that we should…
Eilidh: You’ve certainly got a point there. The UNFCCC process can seem like, and to a large extent is, a performance of global “giving a shit”. But I’d like to think I’m perhaps more hopeful that this performance is having an impact.
It’s not a perfect process by any means, but since the Convention was created in 1992, the way that global leaders have come together to deal with this gargantuan problem has been improving. Slowly, but surely – and I think I have faith in activists to help push that change in the right direction, and quickly.
Activism in the COP space is unique. It is very reactive and often sits in stark contrast to the rest of the activities happening at the UNFCCC. But in my opinion, it’s still slightly plagued with technical focus and technical specifics that mean we fail to acknowledge the full reality of the climate emergency, and the extent of the risk we are creating for the worlds most vulnerable by not taking action.
That’s definitely not to say that actions focused on climate justice, reparations, and the full extent of the problem don’t happen – they do, and are often really wonderful examples of global solidarity and support, with representatives from communities already impacted by climate change taking front and centre. But the media and national governments are failing to see these actions in the same way they do technical recommendations, and while both are important, I would love the climate activist movement to be able to break-though the media circus and carry the inspiring messages of global solidarity to people not involved, or unaware of the technicalities of the COP process.
Marc: I agree the COP actions often get bogged down in the technicalities – activists want to show that they are not rent-a-mob, that they do actually understand the nuances of the policy debates. The media are unlikely to ever give them a fair hearing, for reasons that Herman and Chomsky refer to in their “Propaganda model” of media in democratic socieites.
To take a step back from the climate issue – Back in the late 1990s the so-called “anti-globalisation” movement was in full swing. One major tactic was to attempt to blockade meetings of the G8, the IMF, the World Bank and so on. This process came to be known as “summit-hopping”, and a critique of it emerged. Those who had the knowledge, the networks, the time, the physicality, the arrestabililty to attend these summits and gain activist status tokens, tended to be, oddly enough – white, middle-class, able-bodied, westerners with university educations (of course there were exceptions). Meanwhile, in their home cities, campaigns against gentrification, local air quality, police brutality, community centre closures were struggling to get anyone involved…. I don’t think, fwiw, that the critique of summit-hopping is outdated. In fact, in 2005, after the G8 Summit in Scotland, the Camp for Climate Action emerged… However, 4 years later, those people…. summit-hoped to the COP at Copenhagen…
Eilidh: I take your point there, but I’m hopeful that the mainstreaming of the climate crisis is starting to persuade global leaders and industry to always expect resistance. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get leaders to sit up and notice, than to plaster the crisis across the sky!
Eilidh: Glasgow is going to be interesting. At the UN level 2020 will be the first year for actually putting what they promised into practice. That means national egos will be enormous, and backhanded compliments rife. For the UK in particular I think we can expect a lot of sickening self-congratulation (I’d advice taking a drink each time they say “world leaders”) and quite an uncomfortable UK focus, given the global reality of the climate crisis.
Apart from the usual political nonsense, Glasgow COP is going to be a really critical time for UK activists to come together in ways that we haven’t really before. It’s going to force us to learn form those who understand the UNFCCC circus, but also listen to those who see beyond the UN and can look to the bigger picture of climate justice. For me, my biggest concern going into COP26 is that UK activists will get so caught up in our own national whirlwind of Brexit, “Clean Growth” and the UK’s pitfalls in terms of climate action, that we will loose sight of the gross reality. The UK is historically responsible for one of the largest shares in greenhouse gas emissions globally, and we are stinking rich as a result – yet, to this day, we continue to fund fossil fuel projects in the global south under the UK Foreign Aid budget. Do we have NO shame?
My hope is that activists will not erase the voices of those who will be most impacted by the UK, and other Global North countries failure to act. I hope to hear no one pulling the “China Card” and instead seeing activists coming together globally to raise the voices of the vulnerable, and less represented in both our own British societies, and globally. The UK needs to take some BIG responsibility, and we should not lose sight of this global responsibility as we call for action!
Marc: I think Glasgow will be, in the short term the “salvation” of the UK climate organisations currently active (I would hesitate to use the word ‘movement’ to describe them- I don’t think they are that co-ordinated or collaborative). I think Glasgow will give them the opportunity to appear to be co-ordinated.
And I think Glasgow will suck most of the oxygen out of the room for other debates, other issues, for the nitty-gritty of movement-building as opposed to mobilising.
And so many hopes and expectations will be pinned on Glasgow that it cannot possibly meet them. And that dashing of expectations, combined with physical and mental exhaustion following what by then will be over two years of high intensity activism for many, will probably (not certainly – only probably) lead to a crisis for many, where they burn out and walk away, leaving a small rump of demoralised activists trying to maintain momentum, probably futilely.
Eilidh: I agree, placing too much emphasis on Glasgow is not useful nor helpful. But luckily there has been talk among many activists I work with of creating a longer-term vision of collaborative work between UK activists. Striving specifically to see Glasgow as the start of the work, not the end – trying to account for burnout, defeat, and disillusionment.
Maybe it’s because I’m not at COP this year and I’ve forgotten the realities of its exhaustion, frustration and rage – but I think if UK activists can start to look around them to international allies, it could be an energising moment rather than demoralising.
Eilidh: Well, I’ve already hinted that we have a global role to play in this crisis. The UK needs to do SO MUCH MORE, and we need to ramp up the political pressure so that our governments feel embarrassed. And not just about holding a disposable coffee cup Boris… That means joining together to put pressure on areas that we can change, and starting to fill gaps on policies we haven’t yet done enough on: like air travel, housing, and waste.
I would love to see activists coming together across the country to learn from each other, inspire one another and welcome our global allies with open arms – recognising the inherent social injustices tied up in the climate crisis and re-energising and supporting one another in what is going to be a long and hard fought fight.
Marc: I think we should talk about what we do between 9 and 20 November 2020 in our own towns and cities. How do we turn the media attention on climate change during those two weeks (and there will be attention), onto local issues around refufee rights, biodiversity, air quality, climate mitigation, adaptation, social justice, gender justice. How can we make it easier rather than harder for people who want to get involved without having to buy a coach/train ticket to Glasgow, find accommodation, worry about getting arrested, use up scarce annual leave etc etc.
To be clear – I think this won’t happen. The emotional needs, the organisational norms, the institutional momentum is behind big marches and other set pieces in Glasgow at the end of the next year. That will, in my opinion, be a disaster, but I am now inured to social movement stupidity, since for all my adult life, social movement organisations have been failing to cope with the horror that is climate change.
Eilidh: It will be hard, I don’t think anyone is underestimating that. But I like to think your vision is not as far away as you think. At the UK Youth Climate Coalition we’ve been strategizing a lot, and while we cannot pretend to make huge waves of impact, we want to focus on creating resources and skill shares to make the COP more accessible, more relatable and more meaningful for local people – so that they too can see the global impacts of this crisis we are living in. Our plan doesn’t fix all the problems, but I think it’s a good place to start.
What can we know, what is to be done? Another hot-take, but specifically on Manchester climate action.
With the usual disclaimers (1), there are a few things we can confidently say about the large Conservative/”Brexit” win (for what the Conservative Party now is, see this by Peter Oborne) at yesterday’s general election.
At a personal level, for activists, this will be very demoralising. The impact on activists of XR and youth strikers will be profound: it is an overused term, but “devastating blow” is about right. Most will have thought a minority Corbyn government would be a possibility, and at least some elements of the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ (2) might come into existence. More on that in the ‘what is to be done’ (WITBD) section.
It will also be massively demoralising for councillors (esp the left wing ones), who are Labour and spent many hours/days in marginal constituencies trying to get a different result. Those councillors, and the new candidates standing in wards across the city (Hulme and Whalley Range among them) will know that over the coming five years, they will be overwhelmed with more case work as the remaining vestiges of the post-World War 2 welfare state are hacked to buggery. That has implications for activists trying to get climate change up the agenda and keep it there – more on that in the WITBD section.
A little bit of the outcome here depends on what the newly energised Momentum-y types do. Will they engage meaningfully and in the long-term on local authority action? Will that energy go to the immediate issues of housing, homelessness, and – I can’t believe I am writing this about one of the richest countries in the world – hunger. Hunger ffs.
Overall, “backbench” councillors, activists etc will almost certainly have less mental, emotional and actual time/bandwidth for issues that central government really ought to be leading on
The “leadership” of Manchester City Council on climate issues (and the quote marks are well earned) will have a baked in “blame central government” defence for five years (and they’ve been using it for ten already). And let’s face it – the Johnson government is likely to continue cutting funding to unfriendly local authorities, meaning they have to cut all the ‘nice to haves’. The funding the Council gets from its 35.5% share in the Airport (45 million quid per annum) will loom ever more important. More broadly, the City Council is hardly agile or inventive at the best of times. These are not the best of times. And asides the funding issue, don’t even think about the economic consequences of a hard Brexit… (3)
The local authority elections next May will probably be dominated by Brexit and its fall out, with the elections basically a proxy for national dilemmas. Activists need to try at least to make climate policy and the failure to actually act on the climate emergency declaration as an issue, in as many of the 32 wards as possible. However, it’s unclear that the political landscape – 93 Labour Councillors versus 3 Lib Dems – will change significantly…
At a national level, although Johnson was able to avoid all climate discussions (remember the ice-sculpture) he will neither be able to nor in fact want to in the coming year. The UK government bid to host the COP26 conference (9-20 November 2020) precisely to maintain (the illusion of) its diplomatic power post-Brexit.
Whether he likes to or not, Johnson will have to big up the climate issue (but see footnote 1). So, the COP, to be held in Glasgow will loom EXTRA large. Government will want to talk about it, the big NGOs will see it as an opportunity to keep climate on the agenda, and the activists, at a loss for something else to do, will probably oblige by turning out. But it won’t be Santiago… Focusing on Glasgow will continue, imo, to be a mistake.
Fine, so, those are my predictions and most of them are probably wrong. Who cares. More importantly –
What is to be done?
The final word on this goes to @PriyamvadaGopal In two tweets last night, she pointed out
We are not going to win this election by election. This is going to take long, patient, varied work & global alliances. We’ll have to do our best to throw our bodies between vulnerable groups & immediate attack from this regimes,while commencing, as many already have, the slow patient long-term work of making truth & facts fashionable again, finding ways to disseminate them & get them their due DESPITE a fawning media landscape populated by thugs, fantasists & billionaires.
(1) Wtf does anyone know? Srsly. I thought Miliband was going to be Prime Minister right up until Cameron got a stonking majority. Yesterday I was thinking maybe a 20 seat Tory majority. Nostradamus I ain’t.
(2) Yes, it was Keynesianism with an IPCC spraypaint, predicated on growth etc etc. But still..
(3) Will Labour at a national level tack away from ambitious policy proposals like Green New Deal (2) – who knows?
(4) And the shitstorms feed off each other. And people of colour have been living the shitstorm for a long time. As have the other species we ‘share’ this planet with.
in his editor of Manchester Climate Monthly capacity