Environment Commission update July 09

MCFly was at the latest Environment Commission meeting on July 16 and, after the commissioners away day last month, we have lots to tell you! Of course, what you are reading below is NOT the official minutes, but will do till they are distributed…

Recommendations for MCCA

Following the request of the commissioners, Mark Watts of the London Climate Change Agency made his recommendations to help Manchester’s very own Climate Change Agency swim rather than sink. Watts pinpointed the lack of resources as a major issue and suggested a figure of around £250,000 to tackle the projects that the MCCA has already taken on. He also proposed that the MCCA define itself and its role/aims more clearly.

An assessment of where Manchester was upto in terms of tackling climate change was also proposed alongside the notion that the EC and MCCA should be clearly separated from each other. Smart metering and retrofitting municipal buildings were given the thumbs up as positive ways to build a reputation and presence in Manchester.

Charlie Parker and Commission chair Dave Goddard were keen to point out that devolution will bring more resources for these projects and that funding will be clearer by October. They did, however, agree that research was needed to make sure that AGMA was getting bang for buck from the 15 million been spent in the sector across Greater Manchester.

Reports and presentations overload

To help the commission narrow their aims a plethora of reports were presented which included: a report on the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan for background information, the structure of the NWDA and how the EC could work them, and a report to provide an overview of EU developments and membership of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’. I’ll spare you the details although if you are really keen we have linked up the reports where possible.

The main actions coming from these presentations, which were all rushed although the meeting overran by an hour, was that AGMA could sign up to the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ as the covenant’s targets were not very different to those already set. Commissioners also debated whether adaption to climate change or the need to reduce the carbon per part in the air should take priority with regards to the EC’s vision. This debate once again led to the issue of finding where Manchester is and directing funding more strategically.

Commission and Communication

Finally, a short presentation was given by Janine Watson to help the EC’s ‘brand positioning’ reflect their vision and focus. As well as highlighting the possibilities of facebook and industrial-heritage-inspired-brick-wall websites, she also pointed to risk of talking to journalists without a clear agenda and the need to manage activists. Overall, she recommended a launch event once the EC has defined it aims and work plan.

In case you had somehow managed to miss it, the main theme running across the meeting seemed to be that a lot can be achieved ONCE a there is a clear focus on what it is they want to achieve and how. And whilst things are moving in the right direction, tough decisions need to be made soon to forge this ever-elusive ‘vision’.

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