Life is full of threats, full of opportunities. Most of them we don’t see till they are upon us or have passed us by. Climate change isn’t like that. It has been ‘on the horizon’, as a known long-term threat, since before some MCFly readers were born. As a ‘global community’, we talked a lot about it, especially at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Then we distracted ourselves until about 2006 or 07,until the scientific evidence piled up in a way we could no longer ignore.
Since mid- 2008 Manchester Climate Fortnightly has reported on Manchester City Council’s various twists and turns on the issue. A “Principles Document” was published (and since largely ignored). A promised strategy never emerged. In early 2009 a document called the “Call to Action” was produced. In response to its deficiencies a grassroots alliance created a “Call to Real Action”. The Council took the methodology, if not the ideas, and worked with ‘stakeholders’ to create a “Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.” They stepped – all-too-briefly – outside their comfort zone. We were told, by very senior Council figures, that the Plan – which calls for a 41% reduction in C02 emissions by 2020 and the creation of a ‘low carbon culture’ -was the easy part. Council officials said that 2010 would have to be the year of delivery.
It simply has not been the case. Forget about the delay to the Council’s Internal Delivery Plan (see Council Gritter, page 2). Forget about the failure to embed the 10:10 campaign. Forget about the continuing uncertainty around the nature of the November 30th Stakeholder Conference (who can go? What will they achieve?). Look instead to the lack of any publicity about the “Manchester: A Certain Future” document in the places people get their information – in the mass media, both print and electronic, on the Internet (the official site – http://www.manchesterclimate.com – is always a few weeks away from its next phase, whenever you ask) or via the Council’s own website and newssheets. Look instead to the paltry number of endorsements for the Plan (only 110 out of at least 1100 organisations asked). Look at how none of those groups has gone public, and educated their own workforce about the Action Plan.
There are reasons for this inertia, there are always reasons. There were elections. There’s the ongoing shock of the budget cuts (and the impending Comprehensive Spending Review that will be released on October 20th, and threatens to more than decimate various funding streams). But if these known events can knock our momentum so badly, what of the unforeseen threats to come? How resilient is Manchester’s policy-making and implementation? We will find out.
MCFly attended the recent excellent “Green Monday” event for corporate leaders on climate change, At that, Phil Jones of Brother UK said he was sick of talk and wanted to see some action. Unless Manchester’s “civil society” – trades unions, churches, mosques and synagogues, schools and colleges, tenants and residents associations and activist groups – gets informed and starts exerting unrelenting positive pressure, both on the Council and on itself, then he will be waiting a long time.
Supported by Artists Project Earth
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