Playing Chess with Richard Sharland

This article in the paper MCFly was written by Richard Sharland, Director of Environmental Strategy for Manchester City Council. He will be speaking at the next “Third Wednesday” meeting of Manchester Climate Forum, October 21st, 7pm, Friends Meeting House.

So, the chess game leading towards Copenhagen develops elsewhere while the planning work of nearly 200 people here in Manchester approaches the end of its first phase.

Devising the actions to make up our own Climate Change Action Plan has been an energetic process, generating learning, new relationships and reminders of people’s very different starting points. The five theme groups have identified hundreds of actions to reduce emissions or shift us towards a more low carbon culture. There have been few significant disagreements, though the issue of metrics has burned a few braincells and some will be disappointed that – at this early stage – the plan cannot provide clear quantified targets for each action.

Many of those involved will be attending the conference on 12th October, where we’ll be discussing aspects of the plan with each other and with a wider group of stakeholders to whom it is fresh and new. The plan’s first encounter with a new set of people and their starting points will help us to finalise it so it can work effectively as a tool to guide, inspire and provoke action and change.

This keeping in mind how the plan needs to work as a tool is much more important than the plan itself. In 2010, it should spawn delivery plans for key actions; endorsement and new contributions from citizens and organisations; smarter measurement. This future evidence that the plan can animate change, is iterative and adaptive, reflects what Manchester knows about its complex changing relationships with the global climate and what the city is doing to stay ahead: this will show it is working.

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