Q1. What have you done lately to reduce your carbon footprint?
I am fortunate enough to choose to live a certain way so whilst there are always more ways my family and I could reduce our carbon footprint, we are certainly trying to do our bit. I am a car owner however I make a conscious choice to use public transport or walk for most of my journeys, personal or professional. This includes catching the train, even for long-distance journeys, to see family and friends who live outside Manchester, much to my children’s frustrations. I walk or catch the bus to work, regularly getting soaked by the lovely Mancunian rain but I enjoy walking and I think walking gives one a different perspective on an area. I also advocate using public transport as regularly as one can as it is a great microcosm on life and local communities. Catching the Number 86 bus to Hulme or walking through Hulme Park gives me a much greater appreciation of Hulme than sitting in a car in traffic ever could.
At home, we recycle regularly, food, paper, clothes and toys, whatever we can. I drive my children mad with the piles of paper that build up. However I think it not only is a responsible thing to do in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, it also serves as a lesson to us all, to appreciate there are many people less fortunate them us hence our commitment to recycling toys/clothes.
We use low-energy light-bulbs, buy local organic food as often as we can, try not to buy over-packaged items ( sincerely believe companies should not be allowed to wrap their goods in non-biodegradable materials) turn our thermostat down which means me walking around in thick woolly jumpers indoors, switch lights/appliances off as necessary. I have a mainly non-meat diet though I do eat fish so inevitably the food cooked in the house is mainly non-meat.
I do fundamentally believe that reducing one’s carbon footprint cannot be done unless we look at the link between poverty, the lack of lifestyle choices and the devastating effects of it. As a single parent and a social-housing tenant, I know how much poverty can impact on daily decisions and the choices one makes.
However I am fortunate enough to be able to have the understanding and determination to make small choices, like walking to work, to try and do my bit.
Not everyone is in that position and we must support individuals to move from “I can’t/won’t/doesn’t matter if I don’t” mentality to “I can/I will/It does matter” mentality. That will take time, empathy, trust and a long-term shared vision for us, our children and our grandchildren.
Q2. What has been the biggest success in the City Council’s actions on Climate Change in the last two years?
Undoubtedly the biggest success has been in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, academia, the voluntary sector and environmental groups to develop a shared vision of what Manchester needs to do to mitigate against climate change. The great thing about ‘ A Certain Future’ the climate change action plan is that all these different interests weren’t merely consulted on its content but were the people who wrote it. Of course, the fact we have got this on the table and are seriously investing time, money and energy into tacking climate change should not be underestimated or undervalued.
Q3. What has been the biggest failure in the City Council’s actions on Climate Change in the last two years?
I’m not sure there has been anything that could be described as failure by the City Council though I am sure there are many more things that could be done.
There is always the question given the urgency of tackling climate change that things could be done quicker. It is also important to remember that tackling climate change is a responsibility we all share and the council does not have all the answers. Tackling Climate Change seriously means we all have to do our bit, collectively and individually.
Q4. What do you hope will come out of the November 30th ‘Stakeholder Conference’?
The City Council will be moving from planning to delivery and I know the council will be signing off its own delivery plan later in October with a 42% reduction target by 2020. Hopefully by November 30thwe will see an increase in the number of stakeholders, individuals and organisations committed to supporting ‘A Certain Future’, more delivery plans underway and re-enthused stakeholders around the shared vision. I hope we will see some creative thinking and innovative ideas about how we can do more and more quickly.
As I mentioned in Q1, one of the fundamental things I would like to see be recognised and come out of the Conference, is the impact that poverty has on limiting positive lifestyle choices. So whilst I believe we all have individual responsibility, if reducing carbon remains a lifestyle choice without work being done to address the deeper inequalities in our society we will face an uphill struggle. The evidence shows that climate change will disproportionately affect poor people and poor communities more, ( Oxfam’s Tackling Climate Change, Reducing Poverty UK and Poverty and Climate Change Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor through Adaptation are two good reports) with women disproportionately affected again. I have just learnt that over 80% of farmers in Africa are women.
What we do isn’t done in isolation so we must see the bigger picture, if we can help someone in Manchester to understand that changing the way they live, even if they only have £40 a week to spend on shopping, will not only benefit their family long-term but could also be a small step in contributing positively to families in developing countries, than that would be a great thing. It’s the small steps that are equally as important as the policy changes and that comes with changes in the way we think for it to be actualised in the way we live.
Q5. Do you think – hypothetically- that altering an independent newsletter’s article so that it supports your party, and then sending that doctored article out on an email list to voters would be acceptable behaviour? (Yes/No)
Absolutely not and I would not do such a thing.
Q5a. Hypothetically speaking, if someone in your Party did such a thing, what should be done about it?
If it happened to me, at the very least I would want a full and abject apology.
Q6. If people want to get involved with your campaigning/political party, how do they get in touch?
Contact me, Amina Lone on 0161 660 5946 or amina@HulmeLabour.org.uk. We have had lots of people already offer to help and every volunteer’s help is appreciated. There is a great team spirit and all are welcome. Hulme Labour Team also hold a weekly advice surgery at the Zion Arts Centre every Monday from 6pm and anyone can drop in for a chat, support or advice.