First the bad news. A million pounds that Manchester City Council has earmarked for its “Carbon Reduction Innovation and Investment Fund” has sat for almost six months gathering… well, interest (we hope).
The money was announced as part of the Council’s ‘Climate Change Principles document’ in February 2008, and the council hoped that these funds would be matched by ‘stakeholders’ and partners. That hasn’t (yet) happened, and barely a penny has been spent. Meanwhile, CO2 continues to pour into the atmosphere.
Now the good news: The Council has told MCFly that it is within days – or at most weeks – of announcing a series of specific projects that will be funded with that money. These projects are ‘commercially-robust’ and ‘future-proof’. These ‘council-ese’ words mean that rather than giving away the money via a two week spasm of “come get yer free solar panels,” the money will be spent in ways that are a) self-sustaining, and b) measurable.
The specific criteria for success – whether a reduction in absolute emissions, or ‘energy intensity’ (amount of carbon per unit of economic activity) – have not been disclosed. Not all the expertise needed for these projects is available ‘in-house’. The Council has confirmed that some of the million will be spent on hiring the ‘right’ consultants, but was not in a position to name names. MCFly speculates that Deloitte,who recently completed the ‘mini-Stern’ review of Climate Change costs and policies for Manchester Enterprises, may well be in the running.
The Council is also keen that the work it does with the money from the Innovation and Investment Fund fits in with what is happening at the Greater Manchester level. Manchester City Council is only one of ten local authorities within “AGMA”, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.” In March 2009 the city-wide “Manchester Climate Change Agency”, part of the new Environment Commission, will be opening its doors.
The Council states that it has been learning from other cities that have engaged in low carbon projects, such as Southampton, Birmingham and Aberdeen. Manchester, along with Bristol and Leeds, was also part of central government’s “Low Carbon Cities Partnership” http://www.lowcarboncities.co.uk.
MCFly will keep tabs on this story as it unfolds.