Sunday, 28 June 2009

MCFly 27- Coping with Copenhagen

Coping with Copenhagen

As predicted, the European Union refuses to pony up adaptation funding for poor countries. It says it will decide in October. Great, that's really going to build trust with developing countries currently suffering from our previous emissions.

On June 25 Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband visit London Zoo (as if they didn't meet enough vicious dumb animals in the Cabinet and the Commons) to launch the "Road Map to Copenhagen" with the usual guff about 50% cut by 2050, peak by 2020, bit of money for adaptation (see above). "He also called for aviation and maritime emissions to be part of the Copenhagen agreement, and for forestry to become part of the carbon trading market in a bid to prevent deforestation." All this undercut somewhat by the Sustainable Development Commission pointing out that "Britain remains the EU's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is not on track to meet its target of a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010."

Essential reading: "de-mobilisation: avoiding the post-cop doldrums." Find it on

Two new campaigns to be aware of (they are springing up like daisies) Tck tck tck is "an unprecedented global alliance of non-government organizations, trade unions, faith groups and people like you—all calling for an ambitious, fair and binding climate change agreement.

The Guardian reported that a bunch of advertising agencies has got together with the UN to launch a "Hopenhagen" campaign. And this segues nicely into the next item, (and we quote)

Apocalypso Beat

“The first ads will be displayed this week at the Cannes Lions festival in France and at London Heathrow airport, Los Angeles airport and John F Kennedy International airport."

MCFly 27- Action Plan Update #2

The first thing to say about the process of making a Climate Change Action Plan for Manchester to cut its emissions by a million tonnes a year by 2020 is... it's in flux.

The next is to say - as in the old joke - “well, I wouldn't start from here.” We are now about halfway from the launch of the Call to Action (January) to the pre-Copenhagen deadline, and there's no way the Plan is half-way written.

On Thurs 25 June the Council told its Environmental Advisory Panel that it would create writing groups around transport and mobility, energy, buildings, sustainable consumption and green and blue spaces, with mitigation and adaptation as cross-cutting themes. The idea at present is that each writing group would consist of Council members and officers, Manchester Board nominees, EAP members, residents, community sector people, chamber of commerce people, academics and 'others'. There'll be both a 'chair' and a facilitator, supported by the Green City Team.

The time frame is very very tight (the Council wants “conclusions of each group back for co-ordinating/editing by the end of September.... with a “one-off meeting- probably early October- where the council will invite all participants from all groups to comment on the draft plan.”)

There are obvious problems here, and panellists were keen that the Council doesn't re-invent the wheel, and 'borrows' from comparable cities in the UK and beyond that have already undertaken similar work. Several disparate (and desperate) activists and panellists have called on the Council to consider using carefully chosen consultants for specific tasks. MCFly will report on the Council's response. By the next issue of Manchester Climate Fortnightly- July 12- all should be a bit clearer. Watch this space.

Days between June 29 and November 18 = 143

MCFly 27- editorial

Here are some questions MCFly thinks anyone who worries about climate change should be asking out loud and often:

  • How can Manchester City Council be encouraged/supported/cajoled into producing the strongest possible Climate Action Plan?
  • What should "we" do when the Action Plan isn't strong enough?
  • What should "we" do when December's Copenhagen Climate Conference fails to deliver the goods?
  • And finally, precisely how bad does the gender, class and ethnic imbalance have to be (including in the pages of MCFly!) before the "climate community" of Manchester takes a long hard look at just how pale, male, stale and up-scale it is, and takes action?

MCFly 27- Dog Day Afternoon

June 23 A Manchester-based climate academic has yet again given good sound-bite . The shy and equivocal Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre, compared DECC and DEFRA - the two government departments most directly involved with climate change policy- to "small dogs yapping at the heels" of more powerful departments (e.g. those run by the business secretary, Lord Mandelson). Oh, and he says that adopting UK policies globally would give only a 50/50 chance of keeping under two degrees global temperature rise, and he's got the maths to prove it.

MCFly 27- EcoCities Launched

Thursday July 23 will see the launch of the EcoCities project ( at Manchester Town Hall. The project, funded by property developer Bruntwood and the Oglesby Charitable Trust, and run by University of Manchester, is looking at adaptation to climate change and seeks to provide an adaptation blueprint for Manchester by the end of 2011.

Keynote speeches on the theme of "Our visions for EcoCities and the Manchester City Region" will be given by Professor Alan Gilbert President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Council Leader Sir Richard Leese and Michael Oglesby, Chairman of Bruntwood and The Oglesby Charitable Trust. A formal Memorandum of Understanding between the Council and University on climate adaptation will also be signed.

MCFly has interviewed Dr Jeremy Carter of EcoCities about the challenges Manchester faces. You can read the full interview at

Monday, 22 June 2009

Council's climate engagement?! Zilch

So, the latest issue of Manchester People "the Council's flagship newspaper delivered every three months to households across the city" slaps onto the doormat.

Not a word about climate change. Not. A. Word.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother; don't have kids, not planning to have them [infamously, have planned not to]. Biosphere's already screwed anyhow.

And meanwhile our elected leaders and the bureaucrats entrusted to implement engagement plans can't even be bothered to get even a short article in the Council's own frigging newspaper about one of their "top priorities" (sic).

It makes me sick.

Marc Hudson.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Email interview with Cllr Richard Cowell, Exec Member for the Environment

June 16th 2009

1) How happy are you with the progress of the Call to Action?

We are progressing with the catalytic actions and the Call to Action
has contributed to the debate on what needs to be done. The
publication of the Call to Real Action in response is to be welcomed
in that it widens the debate. The creation of the Environment
Implementation Board chaired by the Chief Executive which brings
together Heads of Service and representatives of other Organisations
will drive forward
delivery .

2) Could you explain briefly what the Council hopes to achieve
on Climate
Change this year?

This year we look to make progress on the catalytic actions but also
to involve residents, community groups, stakeholders, business and
campaigning groups on the journey to bring about a low carbon city.
This can only be achieved by acting in an inclusive way. Key to this
will be the production
of the Manchester Action Plan this year.

3)What do you perceive to be the major opportunities?
The opportunity is that people are receptive to the need to respond
the danger of Climate Change and are keen to play their part either
individually or collectively. It is vital that we take the people of

Manchester along with us.

4) What do you perceive to be the major challenges/obstacles?
A major challenge is time. We want to act quickly but also correctly,
especially, when it comes to spending taxpayers money. Systems have
been put in place to ensure that the £1 million Carbon Innovation Fund
is put to work quickly in delivering change and in leveraging other funding,

however, a robust process has to be followed before money is spent.

5) How would you like, specifically, to see the people of Manchester involved?
I want to see an inclusive approach to writing up the Action Plan and I see
low Carbon Communities as a vital element of our Climate Change work.
We wish to see a wide ranging engagement from Manchester people, stakeholders
and community groups that reflect the diverse nature of our city. Groups coming
forward with proposals will either receive funding from a portion Carbon
Innovation Fund set aside for low carbon
communities or be signposted to relevant
funding bodies

*Manchester Plane Stupid disrupt airport industry conference

In the best traditions of print journalism, we hereby cut and paste a press release as an article:

"Manchester Plane Stupid disrupt airport industry conference"
Tuesday 16th June 2009

Campaigners disrupted an airport industry conference today using rape alarms
tied to helium balloons . The protesters from the group Manchester Plane
Stupid entered the Manchester Central conference venue (formerly GMEX) and
sent five bunches of helium balloons reading 'Happy Retirement' to the top
of the ceiling where they remained with the alarms ringing. This occurred at
exactly the time when the industry delegates were posing for a photo shoot
for the launch of a new carbon reduction scheme at European airports which
will not include emissions from aircraft.


Outside, protesters held a banner outside the entrance reading,
“Aviation Industry Conference – Climate Criminals Inside”.

The group were protesting against the aviation's growing contribution to
climate change. Aviation currently accounts for around 13% of the UK's
greenhouse gas contribution.

Megan Sims from Manchester Plane Stupid said, “The airport industry is
recklessly pushing ahead with expansion plans across the UK and Europe
despite all the warnings about climate change. We cannot pursue this growth
agenda if we are serious about tackling global warming.”

“Their latest back-patting exercise is yet more greenwash from the airport
industry. They provide the growth of the facilities for aircraft to operate
and encourage more flights, more emissions and more climate change.”

The three day conference was being hosted by Airports Council
International.[1] The conference was suspended whilst house staff struggled
to remove the floating alarms from the ceiling.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

MCFly 26- Environment Commission update

At the latest meeting of the Environment Commission (EC) on June 8, energy infrastructure and resilience have emerged as major issues that need to be tackled in Greater Manchester. Commissioners [minus MP Piddington & Molyneux; Angie Robinson (Manchester Chamber of Commerce); Andy Cliffe (MAG) and Ian McAuley of United Utilities sent a substitute] spent an away day pin-pointing issues to lead the commission, and ways in which they could be tackled effectively. One suggestion was that each commissioner could champion a certain issue. Other concerns that emerged included the need to raise the climate change agenda and to deal with waste by altering consumer habits.

As planned, the EC invited Mark Watts (ex-senior advisor to Ken Livingston) to discuss the lessons to be learnt from London's failed Climate Change Agency, and how to avoid these pitfalls when forming Manchester's very own Climate Change Agency. One conclusion seemed to suggest that there needs to be a closer link with local authorities when carrying out any projects.

The commissioners have also asked for a review by independent assessment of the region's environment performance. This is vital to help assess how well/badly Manchester is doing and what really needs to be improved - the initial findings will be announced some time at the end of next week and MCFly will report on them in the next issue.

For more information, see For a graphic representation of who these guys are and how "it all fits together", see

MCFly 26- Carbon Reduction Fund Found

MCFly has been asking, for a long long time, about a million quid the Council has earmarked for climate change work. The money was announced in February 2008 (that's not a typo), with the aim of acting as "leverage for the development of a Manchester Carbon Reduction Innovation and Investment Fund, to be matched by partners and stakeholders to fund carbon reduction and renewable energy infrastructure projects."

In issue 6 of MCFly (August 2008) we reported what the Council had told us: that it was "within days, or at most weeks, of announcing a series of specific projects" that would be both 'commercially-robust' and 'future-proof.'

Well, we have kept asking, and can now exclusively reveal the following: Since the money was announced in February 2008, at absolute most £69,000 has been spent, on the following-

Smart Metering £5k (in the City Centre), Town Hall Retrofit £15k and i-Trees £49k, (with "£49k match funding for i-trees from the universities", which may mean only £20,000 of the £1,000,000 has been spent.)

We asked what projects are “in the pipeline”? i.e. what money is earmarked for what projects and were told that "no money has been earmarked as it will be a competitive process, with funding allocated on the strength of projects meeting the set criteria."

We also wanted to know if more money had been forthcoming. No further matching funds have come from "partners and stakeholders", as was initially hoped. Crucially "no further Council funds have been committed, the £1m was carried over into 2009/10."

MCFly 26- Sustainable Manchester festival

Sustainable Manchester Festival, October 24 and 25
A mixture of entertainment, information, action and engagement, to celebrate action taking place in Manchester. It will engage the Manchester community in the issues of climate change and the work that is being done to deal with the threat, create opportunities for organizations to educate the public on what they have done/are doing, and plan to do, and also will launch a city wide competition, the Community Initiative Prize, to develop innovation in community initiatives, with the profit from the festival going to fund the winners. First meeting Thurs June 18 at 7.30pm, at Cafe Nexus,

MCFly 26- Bonn voyage, humanity?

At the latest meeting preparing for December's "crunch" Copenhagen climate summit the governments of the world agreed to... keep talking. China wants the rich to make deeper cuts than they want. The US has said it doesn't expect binding cuts from China. Japan low-balls its target. Read more-

MCFly 026- Action Update 1

Action Plan Update #1
Manchester City Council has publicly committed to producing a Climate Change Action Plan by the end of November 2009. From Monday 15 June to November 30 there are 167 days, inclusive. MCFly will be reporting every issue on what progress is being made towards that goal and just how you, the citizens of Manchester, can get involved with your ideas, energy and enthusiasm.

Be there or be square

On Monday June 29 Manchester City Council launches - at last - its 'low carbon communities' work, with an event at Manchester Town Hall. The Council wants at least a hundred people to come and get cracking on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the inevitable changes that will come. The event runs from 4pm to 8pm (you don't have to stay for the whole thing!) with food and plenty of time for mingling and networking.
Workshops, which each run for 45 minutes, will run a number of times so people can have a choice of attending one or all of 'em.
Workshop 1 Climate change and carbon footprinting - what is it, how will it affect Manchester and how communities can help; Basic information on renewable technologies and sustainable energy.
Workshop 2 Exploring how low carbon living can benefit communities; Case studies of successful projects; Getting started, planning and research.
Workshop 3 How to apply for funding (criteria and completing the application form); How to raise interest in your project and get people on board.
For a year we at MCFly have been banging on about how little the Council has done on Climate Change, especially on engaging and involving people. Well, now they're doing something, and it is very very important that you go to the event, even if only to tell the Council what it SHOULD be doing. Oh, and tell all your friends, family, work colleagues, and drag 'em along with you. This matters.
You sign up here: