Manchester Climate Forum organised a meeting last night at the Friends Meeting House and Dr. Victoria Johnson of the New Economics Foundation and Cllr Richard Cowell, the Executive member for the Environment were the invited speakers. On the agenda was the climate change issues facing us locally and globally. This is a brief summary of some of the questions that were asked, responses and issues that were brought up. Please feel free to add your comments, further questions or anything that has been missed out.
Global and Copenhagen
Dr. Johnson was at the Poznan meeting which is the run-up to the Copenhagen agreement and talked about the real possibility of international agreement amongst the major players such as the US, Europe, India and China.
“There is the possibility of international agreement but we will probably end up with a weaker agreement at Copenhagen. With the US’s New Green Deal and other process there have been some good proposals for greening the economy. All that government’s care about is jobs and the economy and if you can show that you can effectively green your way out of recession, then that will gather more support.”
Questions from the audience to Victoria also included why carbon emission trading schemes were still being used when they were clearly fail to reduce CO2. She replied that:
“Well , I don’t think that carbon trading doesn’t work rather the cap has been set too high and the prices too low. You have to get those right and I don’t think they are and so they aren’t actually having any effect.”
Local and Call to Action
Cllr Richard Cowell who attracted most of the questions, was eager to highlight the ‘Call to Action’- Manchester council’s latest climate strategy report.
“In terms of the Call to Action, I would say that it is very much a target driven report for a one million tonnes of CO2 reduction by 2020.
“In terms of the council’s response I feel that the work that they do has to be absolutely embedded with the principles and the aims of what we want to do as a council, not as a sort of an add-on, not a bolt-on but something we could value across the different parts of the council.” [Emphasis added]
In response to questions of whether the Principles Document released in February 2008 is still binding -especially Principle 2 which states that the council will go above and beyond the government targets if the science dictates so and that it can be done without harming the poorest in Manchester- Cowell states:
“In terms of the government’s increase to 80% reduction, I am hopeful that that will mean our targets will stand. But of course we will keep things under review.
“The concepts of the principle two were under the old target, so targets could essentially have increased and we will keep that under review.”
‘Engagement’ without Consultation
“Now, I can’t continue to have consultation consultation of these bodies and issues, as I do think that really we have to start implementing. We have million’s of reductions to make and we have to implement to reach them.
“I feel that the call to action is a way we can bring together and bring along a big variety of businesses, community groups, residents etc.”
“If there are ideas that can be achieved that we think are really good, that will work and bring about reductions and are in line with our strategy, then we will seek to implement those. It’s not going to be a closed engagement but it’s very much an open engagement.” [Emphasis added]
See previous blog posts on the analysis of the council’s consultation and targets within the Call to Action.