Farcical #Climate “Agency” staggers on. A few questions… #Manchester

Tonight there is a two hour “conference” about climate change at the University of Manchester.  It’s by something that calls itself the Manchester Climate Change “Agency” which is actually not a statutory body, but a community interest company which has received a LOT of money from Manchester City Council. And cannot be forced to reveal awkward information about what it spends and achieves, and how, through the Freedom of Information Act. What a fortunate state of affairs for certain people, eh?

The “agency” is an outgrowth/successor to the “Stakeholder Steering Group” established in 2010. The Stakeholder Steering Group was supposed to have elected members (the elections were never held, despite promises). It was supposed to hold a day-long annual conference for all stakeholders, so progress could be assessed, failures learnt from, connections made. It managed to hold one full-day conference (2010), two half-day jokes (2012 and 2013) before unilaterally cancelling them in 2014. Its meetings were held in private (not bad for a ‘stakeholder’ group and…

Right about now, readers will be yawning, and asking ‘why does any of this matter? It’s ancient history. ‘  That’s a fair question.  And the answer is this.

Exactly The. Same. People. Who. Presided. Over. Ten. Years. Of Abject. Failure. Are. Still. Running. Things.

They have had ten years to show what they are capable of.  They have done that. They have shown precisely what they are capable of.

The second goal of the Climate Change Action Plan, the plan the Steering Group was supposed to, erm, steer,  was this

“To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city. To create a ‘low carbon culture’ we need to build a common understanding of the causes and implications of climate change, and to develop programmes of ‘carbon literacy’ and ‘carbon accounting’ so that new culture can become part of the daily lives of all individuals and organisations. Every one of the actions in our plan will contribute in some way to the development of ‘carbon literacy’ in the city. However, achieving a new low carbon culture – where thinking about counting carbon is embedded and routine – can only be delivered as a result of all the actions together, in an overall co-ordinated manner. Enabling a low carbon culture in the city will be particularly important if the challenge of meeting even more demanding carbon reduction targets between 2020 and 2050 is to be met.”

Reader. Has this been achieved? No. Has this even been attempted?  No.

So if you think that cancelling elections is the way to build legitimacy.  if you think that not holding annual stakeholder conferences is the way to build political and cultural support for radical action, if you think that shovelling council money into unaccountable stabvests that call themselves ‘Agency’ and hold two hour ‘conferences’ is an adequate response to a climate emergency then you will be happy. If not, you’ll weep.

And you certainly won’t ask the simple question – how close did the city, under the auspices of the ‘Agency,’ get towards its aimed for 13.5% emissions reduction in the last year>  Was it 12.5%?  7%?  lower?  And will there, unlike previous years, be any accountability for that failure>? Any assessment that maybe the glib smiling pale male and stale men have had long enough in post and ought to be asked what they have actually achieved?  Don’t go holding your breath.

 

See also

2015 AGM report (back when they were honest enough just to call it an AGM)

2016 AGM report (warning – this one is hilarious, and you will spit out anything you are drinking, like that girl in the meme…)

Their 2016 ‘reboot’….

PS If anyone wants to ask the process by which some groups (Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion) were invited to have stalls and other groups never received invitations, that’d be great.  Surely publicly=funded bodies, even if they are actually community-interest-companies, need to have some sort of transparent process in place – it can’t, surely, just be ‘let’s invite our mates, but not anyone who has embarrassed us in the past’….

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Three dates for your diary. 10th, 17th and 19th July. #Climate #Manchester

So, putting aside the putrid and worse-than-useless climate change “conference’ on Monday 8th July (more about that in another blog post soon), there are three events that you will want to put in your diary.

Weds 10th July, 9.30.

I think in Albert Square – contact Extinction Rebellion Manchester for more info. Attend Full Council meeting at which this climate emergency declaration will be debated.  Please, if you haven’t already signed the petition, sign it here.  Share it with your friends. Climate Emergency Manchester will be continuing to collect signatures so it can put forward our motion at a council meeting near the end of the year. It needs 4000 signatures from people who live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries

Wednesday 17th July, 1pm.  Climate Emergency Manchester, meeting at the Waterhouse Pub, Princes St, before going over to the Town Hall extension for the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee meeting from 2pm to 4pm.  Climate change is, in every sense, on the agenda.  Contact climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com for more info or if you cannot make the meeting but want to be kept informed. If you want to get involved in Climate Emergency Manchester (and no, you never have to come to a single soul-sucking meeting to be usefully and happily involved), then there’s a contact form here.

 

Friday 19th July 12.30  Pension Fund action

All climate groups in Greater Manchester have been urged to support this protest outside the AGM of the Fund on Friday 19th July gathering from 12.30 onwards. Guardsman Tony Downes House is just about 100 yards along from Droylesden Tram stop. The Facebook event is at https://www.facebook.com/events/905001223172480/?active_tab=about

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Job alert: Community Food Hub Coordinator – based at Woodbank Food Hub, in #Stockport. #Kindling

From here (and it has downloadable application from etc)
Date:  Fri, 06/21/2019

The Kindling Trust are recruiting!

Community Food Hub Coordinator – based at Woodbank Food Hub, in Stockport

 

We are seeking a highly motivated and organised individual, with experience of project development and management, as well as community engagement, to work with the existing team at Woodbank on this innovative project.

 

We are at an exciting point in the development of the Community Food Hub. Over the last three years on a very limited budget, we have made a great start at developing the site, piloting a number of projects and building our amazing community. We recently secured funding for the project, and with it, the chance to make Woodbank a truly thriving and pioneering hub for community food. We are looking for someone to drive forward and deliver our ambitious plans over the next 4 years.

 

Due to the diverse nature of this project we are looking for someone with experience in developing and managing projects with a number of diverse elements.

 

The Kindling Trust is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We welcome applications from individuals across a diverse range of cultures, genders, ethnicities and lifestyles.

 

We will consider offering this post as a job-share. Please state in your application if you are applying on this basis.

 

Hours:  37.5 hours per week, contract until August 2023.

Days: Applicants must be able to work some Saturdays and some evenings.

 

Salary: £17550 per annum (gross) plus 5% employer pension contribution

Annual leave entitlement: 25 days (plus bank holidays)

 

To apply:

See the job description in attachments below. Send a completed application form downloadable below to corrina@kindling.org.uk with the subject heading ‘Woodbank Recruitment’.

 

Closing date for applications: 5pm on Wednesday 31st July

Interviews: Tuesday 13th August

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If you give a damn, you’ll lobby, and get your friends to lobby. #Manchester #ClimateEmergency

Manchester Climate Monthly has been publishing since October 2011.  It has been publicising events, running (blunt) event reports, using Freedom of Information Act requests to expose the yawning chasm between promise and delivery, between rhetoric and reality.

\Before that, Manchester Climate Fortnightly was published from June 2008 to November 2010. It covered the last wave of activity (and even action) on climate change.  During that time Manchester City Council was finally cajoled and corralled into making some worthwhile promises on climate change.  Then came Copenhagen, the Coalition government and the chaos of austerity.  Almost of all of the red-hot climate activists of 2008/9 succumbed to despair, burnout, drifting off to get on with their lives. Those that stuck around fell into being a figleaf for the Council, or just getting on with projects that made them feel good, some of which were important and effective..

And now here we are in July 2019, riding a new wave of activity and promises pending. Thanks to the white hot summer of 2018,  the IPCC’s 1.5 report, a Swedish schoolgirl and a social movement organisation with signs and symptoms of rocket/stick syndrome, climate is “having a moment.”  It may or may not last.  That’s kind of irrelevant.

What is relevant is this (and readers of a nervous disposition, who don’t like emotional blackmail – look away now).

On Wednesday 10th July, Manchester City Council is having a debate about a Climate Emergency declaration (not that you’d know it from the calendars of ifullysupportprominent Manchester environment groups, ironically, but that’s another story). The motion, proposed by Councillor Annette Wright (Hulme) and seconded by Councillor Eve Francis Holt (Chorlton) is not perfect, but then what is? The motion is not bad at all, and offers a much overdue return to specific and meaningful thought on climate change.

If you give a damn. if you have ever found Manchester Climate Monthly useful or even less-than-irritating, here’s what I (editor of MCFly and pain in the arse Marc Hudson) beg you to do as soon as you finish reading this damn rant.

LOBBY YOUR COUNCILLORS.  Find out who they are here. Phone them. Email them. Try to meet them before the debate.  Tell them that you are getting involved for the long haul and expect to be kept informed by them of what they are doing.  (Don’t send them a form email. They are going to ignore that.  Adapt the suggested message here if you like. ) Thentell Climate Emergency Manchester that you’ve lobbied your councillors. Tell them what responses you do (or don’t) get from those councillors.  They have a list of all the councillors who have supported/responded.

GET YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO LOBBY THEIR COUNCILLORS ABOUT THIS MOTION.  Ask them to tell Climate Emergency Manchester the outcome.

Finally, realise that this (“saving the world” or “prolonging the death spasms of the spcies” – take your pick) is a marathon not a sprint, and that unless we (you, me, the social movement “organisations”) behave differently, then it is extremely likely that any set of promises made by Manchester City Council and comparable bodies will, in five years time, be mostly forgotten, mostly undelivered, thanks to bureaucratic incompetence, inertia, the political circus moving on etc.  Excuses will be made, scapegoats found.   Second time farce and all that.

So, behaving differently means this.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR FINITE TIME, ENERGY, PASSION AND SKILLS WITH ANY ORGANISATION THAT DOES NOT HAVE A VIABLE AND VISIBLE PLAN FOR USING YOUR TIME, ENERGY, PASSION AND SKILLS, AND FOR HARNESSING THE TIME, ENERGY, PASSION AND SKILLS  OF PEOPLE WHO CANNOT COME TO MEETINGS. 

Fwiw, Climate Emergency Manchester (and, yes, I am co-founder) wants your time, your skills, your knowledge, your passion. Right now the main goal is to get four thousand signatures on a petition.  But last month CEM folks attended the Council’s  Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee. This coming Wednesday 17th July it will be back again.  All welcome to come to the pre-meeting at the Waterhouse (the Wetherspoons pub on Princes St) from 1pm.

Climate Emergency Manchester  is doing – and will do more – meetings in wards beyond the usual suspects. It wants coders, journalists, video-makers, thinkers, doers, you name it. It promises not to waste your time.  It promises to help you learn new skills, make new connections.  Its contact form is here.

Okay, rant over.  Also, carpe those diems.

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Interview: Clive Lord of Basic Citizens’ Income…

Describe a little about who you are (where/when born, jobs done etc), and when you first became involved in ‘environmental’ issues

I grew up in Lancashire. Being 84, I was at junior school during WW2. My mother died suddenly, and so far as I was concerned without warning in 1945, when I was 10. Moral: you can never take apparent certainties for granted. This makes it easier for me to realize how apparently normal behaviour can destroy the ecosphere.

I was a Probation Officer for 30 years (now retired for almost as long). I was predisposed towards the universal basic income (UBI) because I dealt so often with the demoralizing effects of the poverty trap created by means testing.

It was the 1972 MIT report ‘Limits to Growth‘ which pitchforked me into what we now call Green politics

What are the main issues facing our species, in your opinion? What success have “we” had in dealing with those issues. If “not much success”, then why do you think that is?
The switch from strategies for growth to strategies to preserve the ecosphere. Strategies appropriate for growth were advantageous to humans for many millennia, but the exponential principle brought that epoch to a sudden end.

You have seen various waves of environmental concern wash through the public/media/policymakers, usually leaving a residue of laws which are not enforced, policies not implemented. What do you think we can do to ensure that the current wave of climate concern doesn’t go the same way as the previous waves?
Specifically, growth strategies have persisted long after they became toxic, because:

  • They used to be successful, and vested interests try to prolong them.
  • The need for a new ethos is not necessarily obvious for some time.
  • If growth is the expectation, anything less feels threatening without something to guarantee necessities.
  • No one (person, nation, commercial enterprise . . .) can put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. If they desist, they do nothing to solve the problem, because as long as there is an expectation of growth, others simply take up their share.

If you could have the undivided attention of “the environmental movement” for two minutes, what would you say?
The universal basic income (UBI) does not solve this single-handedly, but is an important element because it guarantees necessities, and gives everyone (persons, etc.) ‘an identity of interest when faced with ecological limits (An expression taken from ‘Poverty and Progress’, a book written by Richard Wilkinson in 1972).

Anything else you’d like to say.
I fear my mind works differently from most others. I am not cleverer – I am hopeless at many practical tasks obvious to everyone else. But I am extremely distressed by the chorus of those who foresee an ecological crisis as clearly as I do, who reject my insistence (erroneous belief??) that a start could have been made on defusing the current existential threat when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology flagged it up in 1972.

My weblog http://www.clivelord.wordpress.com has become jumbled, as it tends to follow topical events, but a more detailed, coherent case can be found there.

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Great Ancoats St petition – questions answered! #Manchester #cycling

Some MCFly readers will already have signed the petition calling on Manchester City Council to change course on its Ancoats St plans, and actually, you know, have cycle lanes. Below is an interview with Nick Hubble, who set up the petition…

1. In a nutshell, what is your campaign trying to achieve? Is it the case that Manchester City Council is proposing to remove the existing cycle lanes on Great Ancoats St? What is their justification? Is it plausible/implausible?
hubble.jpegNH: We want Manchester City Council (MCC) to halt work on Great Ancoats Street until it has properly catered for cycling along that key route. In 2017 MCC signed up to Chris Boardman’s Made to Move strategy, point 5 of which states: “Ensure all upcoming public realm and infrastructure investments, alongside all related policy programmes, have walking and cycling integrated at the development stage”, a commitment they are patently failing to honour with this work. Instead of adding properly safe bike lanes, they are actually removing the (albeit half-baked) cycling provision that’s already there. Imagine taking bike lanes away from a key route in 2019. Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons was quoted as saying the finished road would be ‘a European-style welcome to Manchester’, which is pure wishful thinking: a European approach to this road would have prioritised walking and cycling, even at the cost of a traffic lane or two. Projects like this that insist on the dominance of motorised traffic are a relic of the 1960s and have no place in a forward-looking, sustainably minded 21st century city.

2. How does this decision fit with the GM agenda of improving cycling provision (Bee Lines etc)
NH: The way MCC are using the Bee Network to justify this scheme is disturbing. As already mentioned, the thinking behind the Bee Network is supposed to pervade all thinking around urban transport, placing walking and cycling at the very heart of all infrastructure investments. However, what we are seeing instead is MCC using the fact that this isn’t officially part of the Bee Network to justify eradicating cycling here. “We’re using Bee Network money to build you a route through the Northern Quarter, and another through Ancoats”, they say, with the implication that we should be satisfied with that and leave Great Ancoats Street to the grown-ups in cars. We disagree that this should be a binary choice: cycling shouldn’t only be safe on a small number of routes prescribed by the council, it should be safe everywhere. As Ancoats grows, demand for safe cycling provision on Great Ancoats Street will increase, whether from residents, people who work in the growing number of offices there, and indeed delivery workers, who are increasingly using bikes for the last mile. In short: the Bee Network is supposed to inspire best practice across the board, and not excuse sub-par schemes if Chris Boardman isn’t paying.

3. You’ve set up a petition on change.org. Once people have signed this, what else would you like them to do?
NH: They are invited to join us on the evening of Wednesday 26 June at Stevenson Square from 5:30, where we will be holding a ride and stride across Great Ancoats Street and a rally in Ancoats (https://www.facebook.com/events/431509381027856/). Whether you walk, cycle or just want to see a cleaner, healthier, less polluted and congested Manchester, then please come and show MCC what strength of feeling there is around this issue. If you’re on Twitter, tweet @ManCityCouncil to let them know what you think, write to your councillor – and once we’ve sorted this, stay vigilant of any “upgrade” to road infrastructure that doesn’t have walking and cycling at its heart. We’ve shown here how willing people are to mobilise around this cause, so let’s keep the pressure on and make sure our councils don’t get away with this kind of dismissive approach to active travel any more.

4. In your opinion, what three things are there that campaigners who want better cycling and walking provision in Manchester should be campaigning for? What groups can people get involved in that you think will use their talents and energy well?

NH: As well as demanding safe cycling provision on Great Ancoats Street, our petition has four additional asks. One is for MCC to honour its commitment to Made to Move, the others are:

• To commit at least 10% of its permanent transport budget to active travel (if walking and cycling are to be truly prioritised as forms of transport, they need to be funded in same way as other modes);

• To commit to Bee-Network-standard provision for walking and cycling in all infrastructure investments, no matter what the funding stream (there are currently no binding standards requiring walking and cycling to be of any given quality, or even exist at all as we’re seeing here, and that needs to urgently change);

• To account for the true cost of motor use to society, and the true benefit of active travel, when taking transport investment decisions (that is to say, to account for the huge cost of motoring in terms of adverse impacts on the environment, on health etc. as well as looking at economic factors, which significantly tips the scales in favour of prioritising walking and cycling).

In terms of groups to get involved in, WalkRide Greater Manchester campaigns on the specific agenda of inculcating Bee Network-style thinking across all decisions related not only to transport, but neighbourhoods, schools, places we live. Other groups have overlapping agendas, such as the Ramblers, Living Streets, and more broadly movements such as the student climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion look at the bigger picture of the urgent need to decarbonise our lifestyles. There is plenty going on and hopefully an angle that everyone can find appealing.

5. Oh, by the way, who are you?
NH: My name is Nick Hubble. I’m a bike-rider, walking/cycling activist and blogger. My writings around various aspects of cycling can be found at nickhubble.bike and I’m on Twitter as @pootlers.

6. Anything else you’d like to say?
NH: Just to round up: the campaign around Great Ancoats Street has a more symbolic aspect alongside its specific focus. This is a discussion around what our cities our for, the philosophy of the places we inhabit. Is Manchester a thoroughfare to drive through and perhaps store your car in while you’re otherwise occupied, or should it be a space that its people can savour and enjoy and feel comfortable and welcome in? Places around Europe and beyond are increasingly subscribing to the latter view, reshaping their urban spaces around people and not vehicles, and if Manchester doesn’t quickly get with the picture, we’ll be left behind.

 

Posted in Interview, Transport | 1 Comment

URGENT ACTION: Support school strikers in Chorley #YouthStrike4Climate

supportschoolstrikersAn injury against one is an injury against all.  If you give even the smallest of damns about climate change, sign this petition about three school strikers being told they cannot attend their school prom, and share it.

More details, from a newspaper article, here.

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