Four months after the Environment Commission (EC) first met, there is growing impatience amongst the commissioners to just get on with the job and start setting targets. While aware of the need to carefully select an agenda, many commissioners are concerned over the lack of progress made. One pointed out that ‘not one house has been retrofitted, not one tonne or even one pound of C02 has been reduced due to the meeting s, in fact probably more has been produced due to all this paper printed.’ Given the hefty agenda set for the latest two-hour meeting, and the numerous presentations, commissioners were also keen to streamline the meetings in future.
The main agenda item at the Sept 10 meeting was the work programme for the EC. Commissioners were being asked to take the lead on a certain number of projects around 10 themes, including capacity building, policy, management and resource procurement, housing retrofit, climate resilience, sustainable consumption and production and so on.
A major stumbling block with the proposed work plan was the obvious lack of resources available. In addition the delivery body- the Manchester Climate Change Agency- is not yet ready, and certain items such as the airport were also side-lined as basically too hard to resolve. Whilst certain commissioners were eager that they all put forward staff and resources, many of the appointed commissioners explained that they were working under tight budgets for this suggestion to be realistic. This resources issue needs resolving soon, otherwise a cyclical and boring debate of what comes first – the plan or the money – will ensue. Across the 7 AGMA commissions there is a huge imbalance in resources, with only the New Economy Commission having anything approaching a big enough staff team.
It is clearly early days for the EC, and the issues of a work programme and resources were bound to be difficult ones to resolve. Even so, there does seem to be a lack of urgency and some of the eager (and important) faces that were at the first meeting do need to reappear if this Commission is serious about fulfilling its aims.