Tuesday, 25 August 2009

MCFly 31- Third Wednesdays

Manchester Climate Forum is hosting a series of "info-share and networking" meetings at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St.

First half is a short presentation and Q and A. Second half is brainstorming, networking and announcements.

Sept 16 "Manchester's Ecosystems- political, economic, ecological"

Oct 21 "The Climate Change Action Plan(s)"

Nov 18 to be decided

Dec 16 Xmas bash, venue to be announced

Jan 20 "Copenhagen's (no) deal and what it means for Manchester."


MCFly 31- Coping with Copenhagen

John Prescott told the Guardian that the viital UN climate change talks in Copenhagen are likely to collapse unless rich nations agree a "social justice deal" built around equalising emissions per head in each country. The Bonn climate talks of mid-August ended with not even the most optimistic officials finding anyway to spin a success.

Encouragingly, Jairam Ramesh, India's Environment Minister has told the Financial Times “In 2020, it's conceivable that we might look at a limited target. But in 2009, no way.”

So, is it time to start worrying? The liberal press thinks maybe so


MCFly 31- Green is Good

If you ever look up as you walk about Manchester, chances are you'll see a red oval “Bruntwood” sign above you. The omni-present commercial property group (www.bruntwood.co.uk) specialises in taking buildings that might well get torn down and making them not just habitable and profitable, but energy-efficient to boot. They're also backing Manchester University's “EcoCities Project”, which aims to provide the blueprint for a climate change adaptation strategy for the city. So, it seemed like a good idea to sit down with Mike Oglesby, Bruntwood's founder, and talk about why climate change matters to him and the business.

Oglesby, who founded the Bruntwood group in 1978, explained that the company is focused on the long-term future and also on the need to create the right sort of environment for their customers (never, as we learned, call them tenants!). “It just makes commercial sense to be the 'green choice' and at the end of the day - this is what I keep saying to people - it makes good financial sense. There are all sort of arguments, but even to the most hard-nosed accountant it makes sense.”

Preaching the financial gains of more sustainable practices, Bruntwood are currently running various recycling schemes, green roofing projects and the like. They are keen to show people the advantages of retrofitting rather than demolishing buildings in the city. “If you take the improvements that you can make and compare it to the cost of replacing it all, we believe that people should be clambering to save these old buildings and not pull them down.”

Bruntwood, which owns 38 office building in Manchester's city centre alone, also has projects in the pipeline to encourage car-sharing. “The key thing is being able to say to people 'do this and it will really make a difference', to point it out and educate them.” In fact, this seems to be the motivation behind supporting the university project: they want the evidence.

“You know people actually enjoy being virtuous, maybe that's a bad choice of words but it does make them feel good. What we have got to do is to find the right ways of making people feel good about it and that's why we need the universities to say 'that does have that effect', 'that's the key thing'.”

On a different note, we asked his opinion on the proposal for an elected mayor in the city. He was robust in stating he didn't think it was necessary. “In fact, I'd go further than that, as I think London has shown that you don't necessarily get the right type of leadership by electing a mayor. I believe that the political leadership that we have throughout the region is sound.”

You'll be able to read the full transcript of the interview imminently, here on the MCFly blog.

MCFly will, over the coming months, be interviewing other businesses about their climate change activities.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

MCFly 030- Manchester Conservatives in arrogant and/or incompetent shocker

The Manchester Conservatives (one Manchester councillor, who was elected as a Lib Dem) said they would send a speaker to the August 4th Manchester Climate Forum event "Climate Change: A Year from Now". No Tory showed, and no apology or explanation was forthcoming. Either they thought "why bother, climate change doesn't matter and there won't be any swing voters there" or else they couldn't organise themselves to send an email saying "sorry, none of us can make it." In either case, it makes you hope that the calibre of people who'll be running the country next year is higher than the muppets of Manchester.

MCFly 030- Simon C02well swoop

Climate Camp (www.climatecamp.org.uk) will happen somewhere in London from August 26 to September 2 They've just announced they are holding an election to decide where their next action- in October - will take place. Choices are either Drax, the Yorkshire coal plant and the UK's single biggest emitter of carbon and site of the first camp in 2006, or the second largest coal plant, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, near Nottingham, run by E.ON, site of a recent debacle where over 100 people were arrested before getting near the site. Calls are charged at £1 a minute from landlines. Calls from mobiles will cost considerably more. No, but seriously, you vote by going to www.thegreatclimateswoop.org

MCFly 030- Coping with Copenhagen

As MCFly goes to press, the latest mini-round of talks towards the Copenhagen negotiations is happening in Bonn, Germany. Read more at http://www.iisd.ca/climate/ccwgi

In recent news: the newly-elected chair of the European Parliament's environment committee, German Social Democratic MEP Jo Leinen, said "our engagement for climate protection should be independent from Copenhagen .... if Copenhagen is a success, all the better; if not, we have to stick to our job". Ban-ki Moon (UN Secretary General) said that in September, “we will be entering a crucial stage on climate change” and that to keep up the momentum, he will travel to the Arctic polar ice rim in August and will then attend the World Climate Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

On August 5 Mexico said it will put a detailed offer to cut the growth of its own emissions on the negotiating table.

Essential Reading “Climate activists in denial” Gideon Rachman Financial Times July 27

The Guardian has a chart of who (of the NGOs) wants what http://tinyurl.com/m66oyz

And finally, New Internationalist will be publishing a cartoon guide to the Copenhagen talks, drawn by Manchester (and MCFly's) very own Marc Roberts.

MCFly 030- Climate Change Action Plan update

August 10 to November 18 = 100 days

All five of the writing groups for Manchester City Council's Action Plan have now met once, with second meetings imminent. Literature reviews are being undertaken by the Green City Team. As yet there is no indication of how these writing groups are intending to fulfil the second half of their obligation "to build awareness, understanding and capacity of climate change issues, engaging communities and organisations throughout Manchester in the behaviour change needed to transform itself into a 'low carbon city' by 2020."

There has been concern about the gender balance and the number of men in suits versus "ordinary people" in the Writing Groups. In the Transport group (total number of women who weren't taking minutes/facilitating =... wait for it... zero) the immortal line "we need to take the politics out of transport" was uttered.

The questions raised in the last MCFly still stand; who is going to revise the document in October and how, how will the document be released, will the lessons of Call to Action be learnt, what are the mechanisms for engaging with 'stakeholders,' how will the document be revised and extended in 2010 and 2001? Answers probably won't be forthcoming until the next Environmental Advisory Panel in September.

There is no explanation of the Action Plan on the Council's website, or simple representative graphic (asides from MCFly 29's feeble effort). What is going on?

MCFly 030- Shout it from the (green) rooftops

Manchester City Council and the AGMA "Commission for the New Economy" are paying property consultancy Drivers Jonas to do a feasibility study on creating more green roofspace in Manchester. The head of sustainability at DJ, Jon Lovell- who is heavily involved in several writing groups for the Climate Change Action Plan (see below) - said: “Green roofs deliver so many financial, environmental and public benefits, it’s astonishing that there are so few of them. We need to challenge the received wisdom about the costs and risks.”

MCFly 030- Wind power to the people

The workers occupying the Vestas wind-turbine factory on the Isle of Wight ended their occupation on Friday August 7, after the Danish multinational got the right paperwork to evict them. Trade union activists have been busy around the country - including in Manchester - collecting signatures for a petition to nationalise the factory, and to raise funds for the sacked workers. On Tuesday August 11 a Vestas worker will be speaking at a solidarity meeting. 7pm start, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. manc_sfe@hotmail.com or savevestas.wordpress.com for further info