Sunday, 31 May 2009

MCFly 025- AFSL job

Action for Sustainable Living is looking for "self-motivated Freelance Education Officers" to deliver their schools support programme A Few Small Steps (AFSS) around Greater Manchester from September 2009. Through classroom & after-school activities, work with student councils, staff and volunteers,the programme will help to develop a 'whole school' approach to sustainability on campus, within the curriculum and across the school community. Salary will be £20,573 pro rata (£10.55 per hour/£84.40 per full day)and will be paid on a per project basis. Email for a full job pack Closing date for applications is 5pm Thursday June 18, with interviews Friday June 26.

MCFly 25- other leads

Call to Real Action update

The next meeting of the group is on Tues June 16 at the Friends Meeting House. For more info,

More SUV Tyre Deflation

Anonymous climate activists have once again targeted around 4x4 vehicles, this time in the Chorlton area. On April 23,they deflated tyres on 80 cars - without doing any damage to them, they insist - in a bid to raise awareness of their damaging impact on the planet. MCFLy has nothing to do with this, but has posted their press release here:

Climate Camp Update

One summer, three climate camps; Scotland (3-9 August), Wales (13-16 August) and London (27 August - 2 Sept). Each camp weaves 4 key themes: education, direct action, sustainable living, and building a movement to tackle climate change. To find out more about the camps, come to Jabez Clegg on Thursday June 9 from 7pm until 9pm (Dover St, opposite University of Manchester Students' Union). For more information 0161 275 2938 or

MCFly 025- Bonn Chance, Mes Amis

Bonn Chance, mes amis

This December, our species has one last drink at the Last Chance Saloon. In Copenhagen, from the 7th to 18th, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change grinds into its fifteenth year, with a meeting that aims to replace the “Kyoto Protocol.” The governments of the world - with business, pressure groups and civil society looking on - need to convince the new kids in the carbon emissions game – especially China - to commit to deep cuts.

This will only happen if the US, European Union and other long-term polluters, show willing with cuts of their own and pony up real money for countries already suffering the effects of climate change. In the run up to the Copenhagen meeting, the negotiating texts are being hammered out behind closed doors and at meetings like the Bonn “SBI/SBSTA” meetings, which run from June 1-12.

At this meeting the – deep breath – “Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operation Action under the Convention” will be meeting for the sixth time. The AWG-LCA is seen by many as a key group because it contains the United States, which has never signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that committed rich countries to token emissions cuts.

For daily updates from Bonn, see

MCFly 025- Living CO2mmunities

Living CO2mmunities

A Low Carbon Communities Event

Monday 29 June 2009

Manchester City Council is holding a free event for people who want to be part of the solution to climate change. As they ask in the invite: "Could you inspire and lead people in your neighbourhood to reduce the city's carbon footprint and make climate change action part of our everyday lives?"

It takes place on Monday June 29 at Manchester Town Hall from 4pm to 8pm. "There will be loads of information about climate change and carbon foot printing, how you and your community can get involved in becoming low carbon as well as workshops on how to apply for funding and filling in application forms."

To register for this free event go to

or contact Jon Littler on 0161 953 2733 or email

Sunday, 24 May 2009

MCFly is One! Birthday party Tues June 2nd

MCFly is One*!

Come help us celebrate at the Sandbar, Grosvenor St on Tuesday 2nd June from 8pm

* MCFly is actually celebrating its 25th issue. Since it comes out every fortnight, that's is only 50 weeks, not 52. Journalists, ya just can't trust them.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

More SUV tyre-deflating in South Manchester

Most of what you read in the newspaper is just
regurgitated press releases.
MCFly is taking the process to its logical
end-point by simply reprinting this, which
appeared in our in-box today...

"Manchester activists deflate SUV tyres

"A group of concerned Manchester residents deflated the tyres of a number of
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV's) last night to protest their contribution to
climate change, oil consumption and road traffic accidents. Around 80
vehicles in the Chorlton area were targetted. The tyres were let down and
not slashed, this was done without any damage to the tyres.

"Given the threat of climate change and the governments inaction in dealing
with it, the group say that direct action such as this is, unfortunately,
necessary. Large SUV's contribution to climate change is more than the
average car as they emit substantially more greenhouse gases. These large
vehicles also have higher consumption and therefore require more oil: a
finite resource which many conflicts are required to secure access to.

"This issue is not just about climate change and world conflicts, SUV's are a
serious safety hazard. Road traffic statistics have shown that in car
collisions involving SUV's, people in the other car are 6 times more likely
to die than if they had collided with an average car, and furthermore SUV's
are twice as likely to be fatal in collisions with pedestrians.

"James, a member of the group, said, “These vehicles are totally unsuitable
for the city, they're dangerous, polluting and an unnecessary status symbol.
They should not be on our city roads.”

"Large SUVs are a symbol of excessive consumerism and due to a wide range of
issues, driving one in urban areas constitutes anti-social behaviour to
which we are all vulnerable."

Sunday, 17 May 2009

MCFly 024- Environment Commission gets cracking at last

The Greater Manchester “Environment Commission” (see previous MCFlys and bluffersguide.html) finally met as a complete body on Thursday May 14 . All the elected and appointed members were there (as was a MCFly reporter). On the agenda was the 'Energy Plan', the future of the Manchester Climate Change Agency and investment into Manchester's environmental organisations. After a presentation by Mike Reardon, (of the Commission's transition team) about the commission's outline and aims, the AGMA-based 'Energy Plan' was proposed.

As part of the European Union “Partnership Energy Planning as a tool for realising European Sustainable Energy Communities” (PEPESEC) scheme, the Plan basically suggested that Manchester follow the Swedish model for energy planning. This model rejects the 'wires, kits and cables' approach and instead calls for an understanding of energy supply as a 'system' which needs wider co-ordination and planning. The Commissioners seemed rather sceptical of this idea, stating that this would need a wide base of consensual stakeholder support- something which is clearly lacking as it currently stands. Lynda Shillaw, Managing Director of the Cooperative Group Property, also remarked that they needed a clearer and more cohesive message to get the suppliers to change their strategic direction. Finally, commissioners voiced concerns that they didn't want their projects to be limited by PEPESEC and so they should be setting their objectives independently of this project.

Next on the agenda was the Climate Change Agency. Many commissioners seemed to value the importance of this delivery structure but were keen to learn from the mistakes of London's Climate Change Agency. They were informed that Eversheds consultancy which put together the report on Manchester's CCA had in fact worked closely with London CCA to identify and avoid potential pitfalls. Commissioners suggested that a representative come along to the next meeting- Monday June 8- and give a presentation on the important issues to make sure that they are learning from London's CCA mistakes.

Finally Walter Menzies, chief executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign, gave a quick overview of Manchester's Environmental Organisations and concluded that although many were skilled campaigners there was a lack of organisation or coordination amongst them. He cautioned that whilst they could do without a new layer of bureaucracy, they would benefit from real leadership and direction. In response to the disorganised nature of public investment in environmental organisations, commissioners highlighted the need for more intelligent deployment of public money in the future and suggested that investment should follow strategic aims.

Overall the first meeting of the Environment Commission was promising, with Commissioners really taking the task at hand seriously and suggesting practical ways to fulfil their ambitious role.

Director of Environmental Strategy

News just in: there is now a Director of Environmental Strategy for Manchester City Council.

His name is Richard Sharland, and he has been the CEO of Groundwork UK for the last 2 years, and has held four posts with that organisation over the last 15 years. He starts the job on July 1st.

Here's what a cursory web search found on him, courtesy of the CABE website.
"Richard is director of development at Groundwork UK. He has been with Groundwork since 1994. With a background in the arts, education and community development work, Richard ran projects in the north-east and the midlands before joining the environment sector as director of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust in 1985. Current committee commitments include membership of the Learning and Skills Council's Sustainable Development Advisory Group and the Sustainable Procurement Taskforce."

After one failed bid to appoint a Director of Environmental Strategy to "provide a strategic focus for the development of a coherent environmental strategy and a range of contingent policies; bringing together related components including low carbon and environmental policies and programmes, addressing the broad challenges of climate change and waste and recycling", Manchester City Council appears on the cusp of getting the right person for the job. Three internal candidates and one external were interviewed last week. An announcement is expected on Monday 18 May.
The job, which comes with a £70,000 salary, also comes with a daunting list of responsibilities, such as having "overall responsibility for the Council’s Environmental policies and programmes ensuring effective joined up working across the Council and its partners and the delivery of value for money services", taking "a lead role in providing expertise for the Council on all environmental issues, with specific reference to environmental policies, meeting the challenges of climate change and recycling and waste management" and "providing strategic expertise to the Local Strategic Partnership on environmental issues, including taking a lead role for Manchester at national, regional and local environmental level as required."
As for personal qualities, well, the winner will have an "extensive proven track record and substantial experience in a senior management position in an environmental or related field, a developed and informed understanding of current environmental issues and in particular the challenges posed to cities such as Manchester by climate change and low carbon economic growth" and be able to "communicate effectively verbally, in writing and by the use of other media, including information technology, with colleagues, officers at all levels, elected Members, public, private and voluntary sector organisations."
MCFly will do its best to get an early interview with the new Director, and if you've got questions you'd like to pose, send them in!

Ed Miliband in Manchester

On Friday 15th May, Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change answered questions from an interested audience at a theatre in Chorlton for well over an hour.

This post will be expanded by Saturday 23rd, but for now the following observations will have to do.

The event was hosted and chaired capably and without any unnecessary self-promotion ofrflim-flam by Lucy Powell, who is a prospective Labour candidate at the next election (anyone taking bets?!)

Miliband seemed understandably nervous and at pains to Make No Excuses for the grotesque expenses scandal. [It emerged in the following day's Telegraph that he himself has got a very very clean bill of health]

He seemed very well briefed indeed, and fluent in defending Government policy. [Yes, I know you'd expect that comes as standard for Cabinet ministers, but you'd be surprised: I've seen a couple of trainwrecks in my time.]
He DIDN'T use up half the allotted hour and 20 minutes with some idiotic anodyne speech full of platitudes, in an effort to talk out the clock/minimise exposure to un-mediated questions. His opening remarks were, as he'd advertised, brief.

He seemed (again, I am aware of the Marxian maxim that "sincerity is everything; once you can fake that, you've got it made") genuinely interested in hearing suggestions that people had.

Nothing above or below is meant to excuse or praise Government policy, or to imply that the British State's response to climate change is in any immediate danger of becoming adequate. Let's keep things in perspective here...

He was asked a series of questions about aviation, nuclear energy, Kingsnorth, the climate bill, the science of climate change, protest transport, Copenhagen, snouts in trough etc. He didn't, to my eye, outrageously duck or weave or dissemble.

Below are a few verbatim quotes scribbled down.

On Transition Towns (he is going to the conference next week)
"It's the kind of thing you worry about. Government gets its hands on it, might be just the thing to strangle the movement."

On Carbon Capture and Storage
"Unless we get CCS to work, we're completely stuffed."

On UK targets (in response to one of a series of Friends of the Earth questioners)
"We need to go bigger than 34% by 2020 (but we are part of the EU negotiations)

Although I left early, I'm told there were no major surprises in the last 15 minutes. All in all, he emerged with his dignity and credibility intact and even enhanced

NWDA replies

In MCFly 23 we reported that NWDA chairman, Bryan Gray, had criticised plans to get a thousand companies in 100 days to sign-up to tackle climate change as 'pathetic'. The pledges are part of the Prince's May Day Network, which actually requires that businesses re-new their pledges annually.

In a bid to get a little more information on exactly what had upset him so much (did he want to see 2,000 sign up? Maybe 5,000?) we got in sent him an inquiring email. Clearly embarrassed by his faux pas of truth-telling, the following response was sent 'on his behalf':

The best further actions that businesses can take will be specific to the individual business need. It is for this reason I believe that the Prince's May Day Network is important for Northwest businesses. The network supports businesses to: calculate their carbon footprint; identify their largest impact area and offers them the opportunity to learn from other businesses that have already tackled that issue.

For example, the NWDA has calculated its carbon footprint and identified staff travel, including commuting, as our greatest source of carbon emissions. We already had a travel management plan in place which encouraged low carbon options, put loans in place for staff to buy rail season tickets and bicycles etc. This year we have had an Energy Saving Trust audit of our transport use and will be encouraging our 'high mileage' staff to undertake efficient driver training.

In the coming months we will finalise our carbon reduction plan which will help us to achieve our goal of 5% annual carbon reduction through prioritised and costed measures. It is only by fully understanding our impact and setting reduction targets that we can identify cost beneficial measures which are appropriate to our circumstances. I would encourage all businesses to join the Princes May Day Network and adopt a similar approach.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

MCFly 023- Teaching an elephant to tapdance

Three new-ish official bodies have been set up to meet the challenge of Climate Change in Manchester. MCFly gives a quick overview of each, and asks "who will tell the people?"

The oft-delayed announcement of the remaining “Environment Commissioners” has been made. The Environment Commission is a Greater Manchester body that will aim to “co-ordinate with a range of organisations to tackle climate change, energy, water, green infrastructure, transport, waste and other issues.” As reported in previous MCFlys, the first six commissioners were appointed some time ago. They are all councillors from local authorities, including Richard Cowell, Manchester City Council Executive Member for the Environment. The remaining Commissioners, who were selected after a nomination process managed by recruitment company Robinson Keane are as follows: Andy Cliffe, Strategy Director, Manchester Airport Group; Keith Davidson, Environment Partner at the law firm Pannone; Roger Milburn, Director of the construction company Arup; Anne Selby, CEO of the Wildlife Trust and Lynda Shillaw, Managing Director (Property) Co-operative Group. In addition to these, there are several "ex-officio" Commissioners, including Tony Dean North West Regional Director, Environment Agency ; David Higham, Regional Director of Government Office North West; Angie Robinson, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Ian McAulay, Managing Director of Capital Programmes, United Utilities plc; Cllr Neil Swannick, Chair of Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and David Hytch, Information Director of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. Two senior representatives from Greater Manchester's Universities are also being selected to fill the final two Commission roles. The Commission may choose to appoint one further ex officio.

The first full meeting of the Environment Commission will be on May 14, with discussion of topics such as the development of an Energy Plan and the establishment of a Climate Change Agency. An “away day” is planned for June.

The obvious questions, for which MCFly does not yet have answers, are: what sort of conflict resolution mechanisms are in place (will the chair have a casting vote), will the meetings be open to the public and will the public be able to suggest agenda items/make representations to the Commission?


The Environmental Strategy Programme Board is a internal Manchester City Council group (with a few add-ons) which aims to get various bits of the Council bureaucracy actually talking to each other and co-ordinating delivery of the Environmental Strategy of the Council. They held their fourth meeting recently, and the minutes of that will be posted at

The third group is the 'Environmental Advisory Panel.' Also meeting monthly (in between ESPB meetings), this is an informal group, a mix of Council figures, business figures, academics and “community and voluntary sector” representatives, including Emerge, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, and, yes, Manchester Climate Fortnightly. The terms of reference are still being finalised, but in essence, the Panel is to be a critical friend/advisor of the Council, give it access to other perspectives and ideas (but without the Council being obliged to act on that advice!)

About that elephant... The key question for all the above groups- and others that are springing up (like the sub-Executive group, the sustainable schools group) is how will they build and maintain enthusiasm, momentum and legitimacy when confronted with bureaucratic inertia and turf-wars, wheel-re-invention and long-grass kicking, apathy and denial, and the loud urgency of today's crises? As one MCFly contributor is fond of saying "when you are up to your neck in snapping alligators, it's easy to forget you originally wanted to drain the swamp."