Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Denialist nutjobs come to Manchester

Next week the Conservative Party conference comes to town.  From a climate
perspective, there are three particularly useful developments.

The first is the Climate Clinic, happening in the anyone-can-get-to-it bit- at the
Cube on Portland St.

Secondly, the Manchester-based “Centre for Local Economics Strategies” has
a couple of very interesting events lined up at the Town Hall.

The third “useful” event is behind [police and* ] ideological lines. Denialist nutjobs
(ideologues who don't understand that capitalism has always needed regulation,
coal-industry funded shills etc) who think Climate Change isn't happening have
the following delightful meeting planned:

The right response to climate change
Sponsor(s): The TaxPayers' Alliance & The Cato Institute
Speakers : Matthew Sinclair, Research Director - The TaxPayers'
Alliance (Chair); Patrick Michaels, Senior Fellow in Environmental
Studies - The Cato Institute, Washington DC; Iain Murray , Director
and Senior Fellow - Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington DC;
Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Former Cabinet Minister and Chair of the
Globalisation and Global Poverty Policy Group; 12.00 Electoral
Commission & LGiU
Venue: Freedom Zone (The Bridgewater Hall) : Barbirolli Room
Time: 11.30 Tuesday 6th October

Two things

a) these people's (grand)children, 15 years hence, will disown them/spit on
their graves etc.

b) we've asked Manchester City Council if they'll be sending someone to
set the record straight. If we get an answer, we will let you know...

*NOT- MCFly forced to eat humble pie.  Within an hour and a half of having
posted this, the comment below was received. MCFly has to hold its hands
up and say we didn't check our facts on the perimeter of the Tory Party
Conference- we assumed, incorrectly that the Freedom Zone would be behind
a fence. Sorry about that. Kudos to Mark Wallace, who knows how to claim and
occupy the high moral ground.

Sustainable Neighbourhoods, or 43% proof

MCFly found itself at the latest Sustainable Neighbourhoods Partnership Forum, held at Castle Grayskull (also known as Manchester Town Hall).

Richard Sharland, the Director of Environmental Strategy, was introduced, and gave a succinct powerpoint presentation of the Climate Change Action Plan that MCFly has been exhaustingly [ed: shurely 'exhaustively'?] reporting since the beginning of July.

He pointed out that the process of creating the Plan was happening at considerable pace, for timetable reasons (e.g. Copenhagen!) He described his vision of the Action Plan – that it was getting the City in position for 2020, and also for the longer-term (2050) challenges.

The Plan would build on Manchester's history and culture, and also be reflecting and leading the city-region and national policy. He spoke of “creating a low carbon culture."

Crucially, he spoke of the “at least a million tonnes” target perhaps being converted to “at least 43% reduction by 2020.” [This latter would be a target that goes beyond the national and likely international targets, and is indisputably bold]

Alongside the emissions reduction target, is the “culture change” issue, which he said was more “tougher but more important” because if it wasn't done, the emissions target might still get hit for 2020, but the plan not be “fit for purpose” for the next 30 years.

He spoke of the difficulties of finding/using commonly accepted and acceptable measuring frameworks, for counting baselines and reductions, and that the Council was adopting - over the coming years- a Total Carbon Footprint approach.

The plan, he said, would be 'iterative' (meaning, constantly refined and re-jigged on the basis of new evidence, new concepts).

He fielded a few questions- about bypasses, governance structures/links with AGMA and also Employment and Training, before we were broken into three workshop groups to discuss a few pre-chosen topics from within the draft Action Plan.

Overall, the format of the event was well designed and well executed: the specific parts of the draft Action Plan selected for discussion did lend themselves to workshop discussion. Three groups of roughly ten per group were randomly formed, with a room and a remit for each. The headlines were then reported in a brief plenary, before everyone departed promptly at eight.

These sorts of events need to be happening a lot lot LOT more frequently, in all sorts of venues, with a much wider mix (everyone was white, at a guess, almost everyone had a university education, though these things can be hard to guess!).

But if the Council wants culture change, then they should exemplify it- there are a bunch of cheap and easy things they could do to change the culture of their "public-facing" meetings, and make it likely that those who attend get as much out of it (and so come back) as the hosts.

  • Enforced mingling- get people to turn to the person behind them (they probably know the person they are sat next to, or at least one of them) and talk about what they hope to get out of the meeting/why they've come/what good ideas they have that should be implemented on subject x or y.
  • Given the theme was neighbourhood action, it would have been interesting to see where people live, and get them mingling accordingly.
  • Have everyone where name badges with their first name to break the traditional British ice.
  • Have a “bazaar” where projects/events can be advertised, as part of the meeting (this was tacked onto the end, when it's perhaps least useful).

But overall- useful, informative and definitely worth having more people along to.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

How can we create more resilient economies?

CLES, a Manchester-based think-tank which focuses on economic development and regeneration, co- hosted a meeting on Weds 23rd September, with Norfolk Charitable Trust. The meeting was called to share the results of a research project which looked into what makes local economies resilient.

A group of four individuals [Jennifer Ashby Deputy Director of Department for Communities and Local Government; Daniel Cox Leader of Norfolk County Council; Neil McInroy Chief Executive of Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES); David Southworth Assistant Director at Regional Economics and Investment, Department for Business Innovation and Skills] visited various cities across the world to explore the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of local economies. I did inwardly wonder if they had flown to these exotic locations which included Japan, Vietnam and Mexico- probably yes- and cringe a little.

Anyway, using their anlysis of places like the textile economy of Coimbatore in India and the 'Green' US city of Portland, they put forward the following observations of what makes an economy resiliant, in the hope that we could learn from their mistakes/successes:

  1. Need a broad conception of what the economy is

    - There are social, public and commercial aspects which are all important for economic resiliance → commerical economy isn't the all and everything for success

    - Economic growth acknowledged as a means to achieving a healthy society rather than an end in itself

    - Problem of too much orthodoxy in the approach taken towards local economies

  2. Local government knowing when to intervene and when it is getting in the way

    - Too much or too little involvement by local government is bad for economic resilience → pragmatic reponses are needed rather than those rooted in political dogma

    - Importance of local leadership with regards to direction and planning to 1. disperse benefits of growth 2. setting a direction 3. discourage monopoly in an area

  3. Identity of a place

    - Tapping into physical resources (ports, etc), as well a cultural and identity of the place

    - This not only keeps investers interested but it also attracts important resources such as workers

    - “If places are people then economic resilience requires strong personalities”

  4. Local government planning and managing creativity

    - Resilience is all about creating opportunities in adversity and that requires creative minds

    - Importance of ideas such as green investment and green innovation

    - Creative sector does create income and contributes to the economy

  5. Local government as a 'Coagulant'

    - smart intervention by government needs to be subtle and to work with local industry

    - It also has to be willing to give away power to other players

Whilst the meeting didn't really tell us anything particularly new or shocking, I was taken by the notion that the identity of a place is important for economic resilience. It was also nice to hear people, other than green activists, point out that economic growth is not everything and that it's important to work within the natural limits of the resources provided to us.

One of the major problem, however, was there wasn't any Manchester-specific (or even UK-specific) information to apply to our own local economies. They are hoping to resolve this, as they are asking 5 local authorities to step forward and allow them to apply their observations and measure their city's economic resiliance... I can feel a 'Why not in Manchester' coming up..

CLES will also be hosting fringe events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, on 'Localism and Economic Resilience' on the 6th of October and transport investment for a resilient economy on the 7th of October.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

South Manchester Carbon Co-op

An interview with Jonathan Atkinson of South Manchester Carbon Co-op

What is Carbon Co-op and what is it trying to do?

It is a collaborative project between myself and URBED Co-op. We're working to set up a bulk buying co-op to harness the power of communities to tackle climate change and work towards local energy independence.

The Carbon Co-op starts with the idea that for one person to buy a solar panel is expensive but when the whole street buys one it becomes cheaper. We want to enable streets, neighbourhoods and communities to club together to buy low carbon technologies, everything from energy monitors to wind turbines. The more people that join, the cheaper the products and the more that can be achieved.

What's the biggest success you have had so far?

We've received funding from Manchester Innovation Fund which has allowed us to develop our engagement tools and test out some ideas. This is taking us a long way towards launching and trading which is where we hope to be in 2010.

We've also been selected as a winner of the Big Green Challenge Plus (BGC+) programme. This will allow us to run a Carbon Co-op project in a street in South Manchester for a year. BGC+ is a real bonus because there are some great projects among the other winners and the funders, NESTA, have a new and innovative approach to supporting environmental projects.

What are the main challenges you've had?

It's not hard to sell the idea, anyone can understand the power and potential of people and communities working together to create change. The key challenge is making it pay, how can we ensure that the Carbon Co-op keeps itself sustainable and self-financing whilst brokering the installation of all these low carbon technologies for its members.

The other issue is enthusiasm. People hear about the idea and want to get going straight away. But I've seen too many projects peak too early with enthusiasm and fade away in frustration. When the Carbon Co-op launches there needs to be a sustained way people can get involved and maintain that involvement long term.

What is the big thing you want to achieve in 2010?

To be up and trading and enabling people to transform their communities around Manchester. To be there to see that first energy monitor or solar panel installed.

How can people "get involved", or make use of your expertise/service?

If people are interested they can email me at
We will need volunteers for our Big Green Challenge, all you need is a little bit of time and enthusiasm and we can sort the rest. In terms of members joining the co-op, watch this space!

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

Keep doing what you're doing!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Cambridge Carbon Footprint

A couple of months back, as part of the Manchester International Festival, the Guardian sponsored an event called "The Manchester Report." 20 ideas (mostly at the barking end of technofixery) about how to tackle climate change were presented to a panel of the great and the good, with an audience (even paler maler and staler than usual) watching. One of the speakers (and by far the best that the MCFly crew saw) was Dr Rosemary Randall, of Cambridge Carbon Footprint. She talked about the work she did with people around the psychological barriers to reducing carbon footprints, and a whole lot else besides. She also very kindly agreed to an email interview- and here it is... [The hyperlinks are added by MCFly.]

Could you describe the nature of- and inspiration for - the CCF programme, especially what gap you felt it was filling?
The inspiration came from being invited to a conference at the Centre for Alternative Technology in 2005 to celebrate Peter Harper's 60th birthday. I gave a short version of the paper I wrote 'A new climate for psychotherapy?' and reconnected with people and ideas that I'd not been in touch with deeply for some time. I returned from that conference with the idea of trying to initiate some practical work on climate change that took account of the psychological factors I'd been describing in the paper - the strange phenomena of knowledge and awareness accompanied by inaction at both personal and political levels. That was the beginning of trying to find ways of talking, relating, engaging with people that would help them connect with each other, work through the anxiety, guilt and fear about the issue, confront the losses that climate change faces us with and use their creativity in trying to create a different kind of society that has a real future in it.
We began by using CAT's carbon calculator as a tool for having conversations with people about their personal impact on climate change. Asking questions about people's homes, their travel, what they eat and how they spend their money, takes you instantly into very personal areas where people's feelings and sense of identity are both vulnerable and in play. Handled well, this kind of conversation can open windows for people - both in their minds and on the world and inspire them to get involved and take action.
A further inspiration came from meeting Shilpa Shah, a couple of months into our project who pitched up saying 'What are you doing about BME communities?' and that was the beginning of of the Akashi project (Akashi means 'to the sky') and our emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, taking seriously the need to understand and work with different audiences, not to assume that everyone thinks like we do. We began designing talks and workshops and participative events that asked people what they thought, found out more about how they felt and how climate change affected them, both practically and emotionally. We started thinking more deeply about values and ethics and culture as well, bringing this into the conversations we had.
We realised quickly that making people more aware and engaged either by holding a conversation about their footprint or running a workshop for them didn't go very far in actually achieving carbon reduction. This is where the Carbon Conversations groups started from - they were essentially an answer to the question of how to help people face the problems of reducing emissions in a creative way. We felt that two things were needed - reliable practical resources/information and space for people to explore what change means, how to face it, how to work through the feelings that accompany it. My background as a psychotherapist comes in quite strongly here - I'm interested in how people change, how they deal with loss and grief, how they can support each other, work together creatively and so on. We were also aware that any project needed to be reproducable, it needed to be capable of being delivered by volunteers and that we would need to train and support those volunteers. When we started there wasn't much good material available. That changed with the publication of a flush of books in 2007-8 on how to make reductions, but none of them really addressed the psychology of change, or how you might use a group to work on the issues. We started writing our material and creating our games early in 2006 and it has all gone through many, many changes before emerging as the publicly available books and packs that we now have.
I think the gap that I saw and that we were trying to fill was the one of engaging people at an emotional and psychological level with the problem.

What lessons did you learn that you'd want to put in a bottle and send back to your earlier self, to make it an easier process? (as in, what mistakes did you make that were not useful for learning from)

Take it slowly, don't respond to everything anyone asks you to do, stick to your core values, keep explaining about the psychological elements, keep looking for new ways of opening up possibilities that normalise a psychological approach and emotional intelligence.

What is stopping your style of programme from being more broadly "rolled out"- is it lack of money, of trained staff, of "emotional intelligence"?

All of these, but primarily money and time. If these were in place we would be able to roll-out - people are interested and the demand is there but without being able to pay people to organise and deliver training it's difficult

What dangers - if any- do you see in the heavy focus on Copenhagen in a lot of climate campaigning?

I think the problems lie in what happens after Copenhagen. If we get what appears to be a good deal, everyone, activists included will relax. If we get a fudged deal, the general population won't realise it is a fudge and will relax, assuming the problem is now taken care of, leaving activists to carry the burden of continued political action. The danger with any deal is that this is the moment that vested interests move in to neutralise it in the delivery.

Anything else you'd like to say!!
I'm pleased at the reception of the 10:10 campaign - it seems to be building real interest. The problem of course is how to follow 10% in 2010 with another 10% in 2011, another in 2012 and so on and I think this needs to be better built in to the campaign. There are problems too in how people and organisations actually deliver the 10% they have pledged. Many have no idea what this might actually mean and certainly little idea of how radically their lives need to change if they are going to knock off a lot more than 10%. Certainly our Carbon Conversations groups could help here, if we could get them more widely rolled out as people typically knock that first 10% off immediately and do start to make plans for further reductions, having worked through what is really involved.

I think there are many ways of approaching personal action on climate change and I'm always fascinated to hear about what other people are doing and what has worked for them. I also think there are many facets to work on climate change. We need to make personal reductions. We also need to engage politically. I'm always hoping for cross-fertilisation of ideas and openness to the actions of others. One of the sad things about any movement working on such a difficult topic as climate change is that sometimes in the face of the crisis, people project onto other activists that they are doing the wrong thing, or taking the wrong approach and you get internecine squabbling - incredibly destructive and sad. I think the climate change movement has on the whole managed better than some movements to keep a hold on to the bigger picture and not to descend into this. Stop Climate Chaos, for all its faults, is a genuine coalition, as is the Low Carbon Communities Network. All power to us!


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Environment Commission meeting #4: Resource wars

Four months after the Environment Commission (EC) first met, there is growing impatience amongst the commissioners to just get on with the job and start setting targets. While aware of the need to carefully select an agenda, many commissioners are concerned over the lack of progress made. One pointed out that 'not one house has been retrofitted, not one tonne or even one pound of C02 has been reduced due to the meeting s, in fact probably more has been produced due to all this paper printed.' Given the hefty agenda set for the latest two-hour meeting, and the numerous presentations, commissioners were also keen to streamline the meetings in future.

The main agenda item at the Sept 10 meeting was the work programme for the EC. Commissioners were being asked to take the lead on a certain number of projects around 10 themes, including capacity building, policy, management and resource procurement, housing retrofit, climate resilience, sustainable consumption and production and so on.

A major stumbling block with the proposed work plan was the obvious lack of resources available. In addition the delivery body- the Manchester Climate Change Agency- is not yet ready, and certain items such as the airport were also side-lined as basically too hard to resolve. Whilst certain commissioners were eager that they all put forward staff and resources, many of the appointed commissioners explained that they were working under tight budgets for this suggestion to be realistic. This resources issue needs resolving soon, otherwise a cyclical and boring debate of what comes first - the plan or the money - will ensue. Across the 7 AGMA commissions there is a huge imbalance in resources, with only the New Economy Commission having anything approaching a big enough staff team.

It is clearly early days for the EC, and the issues of a work programme and resources were bound to be difficult ones to resolve. Even so, there does seem to be a lack of urgency and some of the eager (and important) faces that were at the first meeting do need to reappear if this Commission is serious about fulfilling its aims.

Romulus Sim interview

MCFly interviewed Romulus Sim, the MMU student who won the Architecture Award of the 2009 Corus Student Design Awards.

1. Why do you feel its important to focus on sustainable architecture? (looking at your previous work with recycled mattresses etc)

I feel that I have the responsibility to approach the design of cities/living environments/buildings etc in a manner that is sensitive to our surroundings - whether this refers to the environment, its cultural context or history/future. It is my understanding the term 'sustainable' encompasses a consideration of the environment, which also includes how this affects social cohesion and economical viability. Hence, I think that by focusing on sustainable architecture, we are not only helping the immediate environment, but we also making better places to live. We aren't thinking about the design of future cities, but of the design of cities with a future.

2. What sparked your interest in climate change and sustainability? (A book, a writer, even a personal experience)

I can't quote a single point of reference which sparked my interest because it's been a gradual development of interest as I delve further into the field. It's always been something which forms part of how I would approach thinking about design. I suppose my involvement in sustainable desert design in Libya, along with university projects have further cemented my initial curiosity, and has now developed into something which I very strongly believe in.

3.Is there a piece of sustainable architecture that you find inspiring?

I think that the design of some traditional pieces of architecture like Yurts, bedouin tents and even ancient walled cities are great points of inspiration for sustainable architecture. Of course, the 21st century offers great opportunities to really push the meaning of what it means to be sustainable - in that it's not just about designing individual 'green' buildings but to also make cities highly liveable.

4. What opportunities do you feel are open to Manchester to become more sustainable in its architecture?

I feel that there are plenty of opportunities specifically for a post-industrial city like Manchester - for example, weakly programmed areas of the city like post-industrial sites, derelict buildings, disused viaducts and especially the (currently underused) canal network pose as great starting points which could be seen as nodes for growing a healthier city. Manchester is the perfect canvas. A holistic approach is desirable which considers not just the carbon footprint of an independent building, but each piece of design responds to the city for form a

5. Finally, what was the inspiration behind the design of your vertical community in the city?

Le Corbusier's vision of living streets in the sky was one of the early references which inspired the way I thought about high-density living in urban settings - which suggested that these places to live didn't necessary have to become the high-rise horrors of post-war developments. In fact, if it is well-considered, they could be efficient living environments which are vibrant, exciting, and promising. Of course, Corbusier's vision was born in the late 1940's and to design in the 21st century, that idea had to be adapted where we need to address issues we're facing in current urban settlements like population density, energy, food supply and demand, climate change, etc (this isn't to say that we didn't face these issues in the 40s, but there was certainly a lack of interest and awareness/effort). These current issues were then used to derive a solution in the form of a sustainable living system/community, which is not only self-sufficient, but also encourages the growth of a healthier city by the way it interacts with the rest of the city.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Vestas Fundraiser

After a particularly stressful meeting at Castle Greyskull (don't ask, but you can read all about some of it in the next MCFly, out this Sunday), your intrepid reporter cycled down to the People's Republic of Chorlton for the Vestas fundraiser. (Background: There was a factory on the Isle of Wight that made wind turbine blades, until the Danish owners Vestas shut it down (600 jobs down the toilet) and went off to make more money in the States. The factory was occupied by some of its workers, and supported by an alliance of "red" and "green" protestors. There is an ongoing blockade to prevent the final lot of kit being removed.

The fundraiser event was organised by Manchester Green Party and was rather impressive. Given the short notice, turn out was v. good (50? 70?) , the front of house staff welcoming and the acts... well, Al Baker of Al Baker and the Dole Queue was his usual brilliant self, with a mix of pop and politics and philiosophy. He's a hard act to follow, but Ben Mellor and "Leonie Kate" carried it off with aplomb. Nobody has the right to be that talented, frankly; just hope they can all play the launch of Call to Real Action's Additional Action Plan in the second half of November...

Can't say what the other acts were like, since you gotta sleep sometime, and there was a haloumi kebab from Panico's with my name on it...

PS On off-shore wind turbines- a very interesting piece in the Financial Times on Monday 14th Sept "GE looks to offshore wind turbines for growth"

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Email Bulletin Sept 13


done it as a pdf here, via scribd.

And it's here on the MCFly website...

And here's the whole dang thing, layout be damned...

Email Bulletin #17

September 13, 2009

If you want to subscribe, send an email to

Dear all,

another email bulletin from Manchester Climate Fortnightly. Next full newsletter will be out Sunday 20th September, with the usual mix of upcoming events, council news, “Coping with Copenhagen” etc.

There's a quick survey that the Call to Real Action group has devised, in order to get you thinking about your “2020 vision of a fair and climate-safe Manchester.” Answers from the survey which you can fill in online via this link- will be used to help write C2RA's Alternative Action Plan.

Dates for your diary

Weds 16th Sept from 7pm Manchester's Ecosystems: Political, Economic, Environmental, et cetera” a brief talk/info share followed by mingling/brainstorming/networking. Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St

Saturday 10th October, 1 to 4pm Call to Real Action miniconference at the Friends Meeting House

Saturday 17th October 10 to 4pm Climate Action Now conference organised by the Stop Climate Chaos coalition and Co-op

In this bulletin-

Upcoming Events

Why not in Manchester?

Flash mob

Error in MCFly!?!

Best wishes

Marc Hudson, co-editor of Manchester Climate Fortnightly

Upcoming events

Monday 14th Sept from 7.15pm

Campaign against Climate Change meeting to organise activity in run up to Copenhagen talks Friends Meeting House


Vestas (wind turbine workers fighting factory closure) day of action, next Thursday, 17th Sept

Public meeting about climate change and Copenhagen

Transport to London demonstration on 5th December


Tues 15 from 7.30pm

Stop Climate Chaos meeting, Friends of the Earth office, Green Fish Centre, Oldham St.

Mainly we need to talk about... transport , media opportunities, council, flash mob 21st Sep

Weds 16 “Manchester's Ecosystems” (see top of this email for details)

Thurs 17 day of action
5pm leafletting in Piccadilly
8pm Vestas support gig at Irish Club, Chorlton
See here for more details

Thursday 17, 5.30pm Action for Sustainable Living "local project managers meeting", St Wilfrid's Enterprise Centre, Royce Road, Hulme.

Thurs 17, 6.30 to 8pm Manchester Oxfam Campaigns group presents climate change hitting the poorest first and worst What can we do Greenfish Resource Centre

Sat 19 10am to 4.30pm Local Transport Activist day Fancy learning more about how to get serious about cutting carbon from local transport? Meeting hosted by Friends of the Earth, Campaign for Better Transport, CTC, Sustrans, and CPRE. St Thomas' Centre, Ardwick Green North, Manchester. Attendance free, but registration required

Sat 19, 1-4pm Harvest fun day at St Sebastian's Community Centre, Douglas Green, Salford The event is free and there will be various stalls and activities connected to food. All welcome to come along.

Sun 20, from 1pm Harvest Celebration of Chorlton’s Lost Plot community allotment (Southern Allotments, off Nell Lane, Chorlton). All welcome to come down and have a look at the plot and meet other volunteers at the BBQ celebration. Contact Helen Starr -Keddle allotment@afsl,

Sunday 20th September, 11am-4pm

HEAP EVENT: Foraging On Your Doorstep
Join us on a guided walk through natural abundance

- Learn the important botanical families
- How to recognise edible, medicinal and poisonous plants and fungi
- Sample wild food and learn to prepare meals using wild ingredients

Meet 11am at Highfield Allotments car park
(top of Highfield Rd, off Broom Lane, Levenshulme)

Waged £8 Unwaged £5 (includes free feast at the HEAP)

contact Gill 07964066256

Click here to read more on our site

Flash mob

Monday the 21st September
“We will meet from 11.30 till 5 to 12 outside Dawsons music shop on Portland street. People should come here to receive t-shirts and flyer material. They should also bring with them an alarm of some description to set off. I need some volunteers to hold the banner. Perhaps about four people.
Once people have collected flyers and t-shirts from me at Dawsons. We shall disperse to then meet again at 12.15 outside the cafe Nero to set off alarms and release the banner for 12:18. It will last approx 5-6 mins then we shall disperse again to meet at nexus art cafe for handing back the t-shirts. Here we can go for a coffee and cake in the art cafe to celebrate and swap any pictures or video taken!!!
Bring as many people as you can with you!! I'm looking forward to meeting you!
Feel free to put these details anywhere you like to publicise the event.
People should email me on or send me a message on facebook or join the event called wake up call for climate change, to let me know they are coming. So I can arrange for people to have t-shirts.
The event is called 'tck, tck, tck', it is to raise awareness for the global campaign for climate action. Oxfam is helping to communiticate to the public the need for a wake up call to take action about climate change NOW. The event has been organised by the Oxfam campaigns office in Manchester. .
Rachel 0161 234 2787 (Monday and Thursday)

Why not in Manchester?

BBC Sept 9 Council staff in Devon are being banned from parking their cars twice a week in a bid to ease traffic congestion. Devon County Council is also introducing parking charges at County Hall in Exeter for employees on the days they can park and for visitors. The local authority said the move was designed to encourage more car sharing and a better use of public transport.

Error in MCFly!?!

We wrote in the calendar that

Thurs 24, 4 to 6.30pm Energy in Buildings- Towards Zero Carbon
Abbey Business Centre,Barnett House, 53 Fountain St, Manchester, M2 2AN £15 if not a member of IEMA.

But it's £15 if you're not a member of the Northwest Energy Forum. IEMA don't come into it, y'see...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

MCFly 32- Coping with Copenhagen

Ed Miliband (patron saint of MCFly's blog when he's not busy as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) is obviously underwhelmed with the civil society response to his request for a mass movement, so he has set up his own! You can sign up to

Meanwhile, the G20 finance ministers met in London and didn't sort out the festering blister of adaptation funding ahead of the G20 in Pittsburgh on Sept 22nd. No change there then.

Manchester activists will be filmed going to Copenhagen- by their own side. More details on the blog and in the next issue of MCFly.

Crucially, Copenhagen is taking up too much space - both physical and mental - in what is supposed to be Manchester Climate Fortnightly. The solution? A website-

MCFly 032- Action Plan Update

Over the summer, all five of the Writing Groups have met twice, and will meet for their third and final meetings in the coming week or so, mulling draft documents prepared by the Green City Team on the basis of meetings 1 and 2. On Monday 26th August the Green City Team and the chairs of the various groups met and hashed out a few issues (more details imminently). Participants are being asked to put aside the entire day of Monday October 12th for a conference to review the draft Action Plan.

Points to note:

The reductions target may go up from 1 million tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes of C02.

In the absence of a focus on adaptation/resilience, some are suggesting this is a Carbon Reduction Plan rather than a Climate Change Action Plan.

The second goal of the Writing Groups - to get civil society conversations going - has not (yet) been attempted.

MCFly 032- Manchester Climate Change Agency

With the Environment Commission pushing into its fourth meeting this month, its 'delivery body' the Manchester Climate Change Agency (MCCA), is now beginning to take shape. Steve Turner, the head of carbon economy, revealed that the MCCA's powers have been delegated from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities to Oldham Council and that day-to-day running will be undertaken by himself.

Financial resources were highlighted as a major issue alongside governance, although Turner admitted a lot of learning had occurred between Manchester and London's own failed Climate Change Agency. The MCCA will soon be acquiring its first member of staff (a project officer), of an eventual ten, and it is looking to put in place smart metering for the business district. A geothermal heating project in a sports centre in East Manchester is also in the pipeline. MCCA is hoping to become a one-stop-shop for advice on climate change matters to businesses across the city-region. see for more info

Sunday, 6 September 2009

MCFly 32- Why are Climate Change Action plans like buses?

Because you wait ages (years, in fact) for one, and then two come along at once. Manchester City Council, working in partnership with businesses, academics and activists, is facilitating a "Climate Change Action Plan" to be released in November (see page 2). The "Call to Real Action" group is involved in that, and also in putting together an alternative plan. There's a survey about it to fill in here-

MCFly 32- Carbon Innovation Fund

In February 2008, Manchester City Council released its Principles Document on Climate Change. One of the headlines was a million quid for a "Carbon Reduction and Innovation Fund." When we asked in June (2009) how much of that they had actually spent, it came out at absolute most as £69,000 (see MCFly #26). On June 29, the Council held a "Living C02mmunities" event at the Town Hall, and asked community groups to apply for funding. We've asked the Council "how much of the Carbon Reduction Innovation Fund money has now been spent? Alongside that, it would be good to know how many grants have been made to groups since the June 29 event, what the largest one was, the smallest, the average."
When we get the answers, we will let you know.

MCFly 32- Manchester City Council: can we budge it?

We know this: Manchester City Council has a budget of around 1.2 billion pounds a year. Although the Council has emphasised that climate change is a priority, there was no new money in the last budget (see MCFly 18).
And this: That they're in the process of doing the sums for next year's budget.
We don't know this (though we did ask and were assured we'd have an answer before going to press): “What extra money the Council is going to put in its budget for 2010-11 (and beyond) for implementing the Action Plan (i.e. since this will be a 'change' to business as usual, either new money is being found- from where? or else money is being re-arranged or existing programmes are being re-branded as Climate Change money."

But going on Nicholas Stern's (Him out of the Treasury who did a report called the Economics of Climate Change in 2006) estimate that we should be spending 2% of GDP to combat climate change and prepare for the changes afoot, shouldn't the Council spend be something in the region of £24 million? Or is our logic wrong? Just askin', and when we get answers, we will let you know.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Oxfam on "e-campaigning"

We here at MCFly Towers have been banging on for years about the importance of "capacity-building." Tonight Oxfam showed how it should be done. They put on a tightly-organised, invigorating 90 minute session covering the why and how of using 'social media' (you know, Facebook, youtube etc). It was free, non-boring and they didn't try to shove their ideology/newspaper etc down your throat.

Any activist/campaigner, at no matter what level of expertise, would have gotten something useful out of it. Hopefully these monthly "training" evenings, which run from about 6.30 to 8pm, will build up into a key date in the Manchester activist monthly routine.

Key take home message from tonight: go to the right online places, take some good information with you, and post it alongside senisible comments of your own. Build trust, be nice, praise where appropriate and you'll have credibility. Then (and only then) you can think about asking people to do stuff. Completely unlike 'real life' then!

There was lots lots more to it- you"had to be there"...

Here are the "key" questions, which the sub-group I was in didn't entirely get around to answering:

Who is the target (person you're trying to influence)
Who is the 'audience'
Who,where, when and how for these
How to link on-line and off-line activity
How to amplify your message(s)
How to learn after you've succeeded/failed
How share outcomes
How maintain the networks that have been built.

What should you do? Get along to the Thursday Ocotber 8th session, which is on political lobbying (in advance of the Great Persuasion.)

Other Oxfammy dates for your diary
Thursday 17th September, early evening (6.30pm?) for a talk on Climate Change and the (Global) poor, and what can be done. At Greenfish Resource Centre, 46-50 Oldham St.
Contact for more information.

Saturday 17th October- Copenhagen conference at New Century House (details to follow)