Here’s the shocker – during all the talk about Climate Change Principles and Strategies and Leadership, Manchester City Council’s top bureaucrats and politicians were flying around the planet without even buying “carbon offsets.” Enraged? Good. Bottle that anger and keep it in a safe place for future use…
Manchester City Council has finally disgorged information about the flights taken by its senior members and officers first requested by MCFly in June. Meanwhile, it has also finally disgorged its “internal delivery plan” for how it will reduce its carbon emissions by 41% and create a ‘low carbon culture’.
In June, Manchester Climate Fortnightly used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request details of flights taken by the Executive Members of the Council and the Strategic Management Team. We received the standard letter promising a response within 20 working days. And then nothing for the best part of 3 months. When we finally did get answers (via the intervention of a senior Council bureaucrat), they make for interesting reading.
The top bureaucrats racked up quite a few airmiles to Nice, New York, Sydney, Johannesburg, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and so on. In 2007 and 2009 that included flights to Edinburgh.
For the top politicians, the short haul flights (which have lower-carbon alternatives) were worse. In 2007 there were flights to Brussels, Edinburgh, Bournemouth and Paris. 2008 reveals a similar pattern, with trips to Strasbourg, the Hague and Brussels. In 2009 – when the Climate Change Action Plan was being written – there’s a drop in short haul flights, but still the irony of flights to and from Copenhagen to talk about the evils of unnecessary carbon emissions by the Leader and the (previous) Executive Member for the Environment.
The FOIA reply includes the priceless information “Please note that the Council did not have a policy on carbon-offsetting in place during the period from 01.01.2007 to 31.12.2009.” Given the political sensitivites, the Council DID decide to make a payment to “Foundation” for their flights to and from Copenhagen. What price conscience? Er, a tenner a head.
It’s unclear if the flight to and from Copenhagen by the Head of Environmental Strategy was also offset- MCFly will ask…
The full documents sent to MCFly are available here, alongside further analsyis of the usefulness of Manchester Airport to the economy of the Northwest. Meanwhile, the point remains the same ; at some point a proportion of the aviation emissions from the flights in and out of Manchester Airport will be assigned to its owners – Manchester City Council and the other local authorities in Greater Manchester. Hitting an ambitious reduction target while taking on the extra “weight” of those emissions will be very very interesting. Will the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy take account of this? We shall see…
Meanwhile, the Council has circulated its own “internal delivery plan” for how it will meet its obligations under the “Manchester Climate Change Action Plan” which it ratified in November 2009. The Internal Delivery Plan, which was due in September, “sets out what the Council will do over the period 2010 to 2020. It has two aims:-
To set out the how the Council will provide leadership and example in the process of Manchester’s transformation into an internationally recognised low carbon city, and contribute to the implementation of Manchester – A Certain Future.
To transform the Council into a leading example and champion deliverer of environmental sustainability in Greater Manchester by embedding low carbon thinking, behaviour in its culture, processes and the operation of all its services.”
Yes. Well. It will become officially available for viewing on Wednesday 20th October, and will go to the Weds 27th October Executive meeting for ratification. MCFly will analyse the IDPs strengths, weaknesses and silences and try to get a discussion going among Manchester’s climate activists and campaigners… Doubtless the Council’s response will be “well, we HAVE an IDP. Where’s yours?” It’s a fair question…
Supported by Artists Project Earth
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