Sunday, 28 March 2010

MCFly 045- Marc Roberts Cartoons

Marc Roberts has been cartooning for MCFly since its very first issue. He now has a spiffing website at (thanks to Artists Project Earth and Graeme Sherriff). There are almost 500 cartoons on the site, many of which are about climate change. They can be searched via various themes. Volunteers are needed to type up the speech boxes for added accessibility for visually impaired people. Fast and accurate tpyists, please email

MCFly 045- Carbon cutting in South Central Manchester

Sat March 27: An exciting new low-carbon social enterprise has been launched in Moss Side with food, music and practical advice for saving money and carbon. Founded by local residents, the Carbon Co-op aims to bring together friends, neighbours and communities in a bulk-buying co-operative, purchasing low carbon technologies such as energy monitors and solar panels.
Saturday's launch, staged in the community garden on Ossory Street off Great Western Street, featured food, music, a bicycle repair drop in, low carbon energy give-aways and children's activities. The aim of the project is to provide simple advice to reduce household energy bills and cut carbon emissions and the co-op aims to overcome the catch 22 situation that low carbon technologies are too expensive to become mainstream but won't fall in price until demand picks up.
The launch featured a Moss Side edition of the Carbon Co-op Manual which can be downloaded from here: featuring practical energy advice and money off offers on low carbon products.
Carbon Co-op are working closely with Great Western Street Residents Association and chose the area because of the the strong community links and contacts that exist locally.
Other key partners include Kindling Trust, authors of the Carbon Co-op Manual, designers Because Studio, URBED, Energy Saving Trust and NESTA's Big Green Challenge team.
For more information contact: Jonathan Atkinson, Carbon Co-op project manager
0782 861 7933,

MCFly 045- Competition commission

COPArt is "an exciting opportunity for young artists to get their work exhibited in galleries all over the country, including Manchester Town Hall, Bristol View Gallery and London Village Underground." Artists are asked to upload images or clips they have created which contain their message about climate change; however this is not limiting the themes or topics to melting ice caps.... This does not need to be an enormous project which takes up weeks of your time, all art is viewed with equal weighting and there are three categories of art which could be submitted:
1.Minute Piece: Anything you see which strikes you as being relevant to climate change or the deterioration of the environment, from something taken on a phone camera to lomography.
2.Hour Piece: Something you’ve sketched or painted.
3.Large scale project: Something you spend a few weeks on developing.
A key element to COPArt is to empower young artists, if your work is selected for the shortlist it will get nationwide exhibition space and be used in various public forums. The winning entry will be used on Climate Squad’s promotional materials, gaining invaluable exposure, so please get involved and show us your art! The closing date is May 28; visit to submit.

MCFly 045- Earth Hour: Can't Manchester City Council even get the empty gestures right?

Last year Manchester City Council made a right horlicks of participating in "Earth Hour," the WWF organised empty-gesture around energy reduction. The MEN (March 30 2009) quoted City centre spokesman Coun Pat Karney as saying: "Poor marks for Manchester, we have let the side down. Most of us were probably more preoccupied with putting the clocks forward that with Earth Hour, which saw many other city centres across the world dramatically plunged into darkness.
"It's a possibility that it wasn't well enough publicised in the city. I only started reading about it about a day or two before it was happening and I'm sure the majority of people had no idea it was happening. We can only apologise to the rest of the world and make sure we make a better effort next year."

The Call to Real Action report suggested making it a monthly event- "Manchester Hour". The Council ignored this (and a host of other practical suggestions). And for 2010? Well, excluding an email sent on Friday 26th from Manchester is My Planet (will someone please explain why these wastes of carbon and money still exist?) what publicity was there? Manchester was 76th out of 108 counties for participation! "A better effort next year"? Maybe next year, eh? Not like it's an emergency or anything...

MCFly 045- The Council Gritter

No further news from Manchester City Council about how much money it is planning to allocate to climate change in the coming year(s).

But at least it's leading the way in transparency by posting the minutes of the Environmental Strategy Programme Board promptly. Any day now they'll put the minutes from November 2009 onwards on their website, oh yes.

MCFly seems to have missed the press release where Manchester City Council admitted that it didn't get the half a million quid it wanted from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to create a Low Carbon Community Hub in South Manchester.

And that its farcical "Manchester Prize", one of the so-called 'Catalytic Actions' from the 2009 "Call to Action" report is, well, not doing very well at all. MCFly is secretly relieved that -and we quote- "some further work has been undertaken to explore the options for creating a Manchester Prize, [that's bureacratese for 'we have moved the folder from one filing cabinet to another'] but these ideas have not yet been considered or developed due to other priorities."

Is this where we hoped we'd be in November 2009? What. Happened. To. The. Momentum?

MCFly 045- Do the right thing?

On Tuesday April 20, four candidates for local council seats will take part in a public debate entitled "Is Manchester City Council taking the right action on climate change?" Up for discussion will be aviation (of course; Manchester City Council owns 55% of the Airport), the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan (, adaptation, engagement and a host of other tricky topics.
Each speaker will be given 5 minutes to make their opening remarks. The moderator of the debate will then pose different questions to each of the four, before an "open floor" for questions from the audience.
The four are Cllr Richard Cowell, Executive Member for the Environment, who faces a tough battle to retain his Northenden seat; Gayle O'Donovan, who is trying to win Hulme for the Greens; Cllr Graham Shaw, Liberal Democrat representing Didsbury West, and the only one of the four not facing an election this year, and Yan Zhang, standing for the Conservatives in the City Centre. (It will be interesting to see if she casts doubt on the need for action in the same way the Conservative candidate for the parliamentary seat of Withington did at a recent hustings...)
The debate will take place at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, central Manchester (behind the Central Library). It's free, and starts at 7.30pm sharp
MEANWHILE: MCFly wants YOUR answers to the question. "Is Manchester City Council taking the right action on Climate Change?" Keep it brief (less than 600 words), reasoned and printable. We will post the more thought-provoking ones on our website (with your name unless you specify anonymity- that means you Richard Sharland!)

SEE ALSO: Council Gritter (MCFLy 45 page 2) "Earth Hour- Can't Manchester City Council even get the empty gestures right?"

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Environment Commission marches on...

On the 18 March, the AGMA-level Environment commission met up to discuss various issues such as the progress of their programme and the Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) delivery plan.

Led by Keith Davidson, the LCEA for the Built Environment 5-year delivery plan is due to be completed by the end of May. It aims are- in basic terms- to capture the economic benefits of retrofitting; whilst actively becoming a green economy and creating green jobs.

Concerns were raised about securing (private) investment over the five years although it was reported that the programme was already attracting interest and there was a GM bid for EU funding from the ERDF. Issues were also raised by the value of retrofitting buildings when there were various free scheme linked to the Decent Homes standard. The response was that they were aiming for a 'Decent Homes plus' standard which would take retrofitting much further- especially with the European funding- and save six million tonnes of C02.

Even so the biggest stumbling block remains that the commissioners currently have no power and no funding, and the New Economy Commission seems to be taking the lead. If there is no agreement from AGMA for setup costs, and if they don't get money, what happens next? The programme did not come with any money at all and it will be a challenge to convince the local authorities to give up some of their budget for the region-wide plans. Furthermore, whilst the plans were very much pitched as economic plans the need to bring 'people along' and change people's attitudes were raised.

Looking more widely at the Environment Commissions programmes, one commissioner raised the need to be very clear about numbers, aims as it would be very hard to make any difficult decisions without this. It was raised that the programme was still just a strategy and needed to be a lot clearer, especially at this stage. The commissioner noted that at the moment, there is a greater risk of failing than success as plans were still very loose and if need they are serious about getting investment then they need to be clearer about the benefits to do so. It was suggested that they form various programme sessions to give them more focus and to give the EC updates every other meeting.

With regards to measures and data for the EC, it was noted that Manchester commercial center emissions per GDP were quite efficient whilst domestic emissions per capita were higher than would be expected. Whilst low C02 emissions in commercial sector does show the strength of Manchester as a low carbon economy, it was noted that this didn't mean that they shouldn't continue to reduce commercial emissions whilst highlighting areas of commercial excellence.

Arwa Aburawa,
Freelance Journalist and MCFly co-editor

Monday, 15 March 2010

Dirty Oil

There's a new film about the damage caused by getting oil out of tar sands in Canada.
It's a short, well-made documentary called "Dirty Oil", and it was shown free at the Odeon cinema last night, the latest in a series of campaigning documentaries hosted by the Co-operative Bank.

The film, narrated by Neve Campbell (her off 'Scream'), covers the downside of the immensely profitable business of squeezing oil out of land that used to be covered in arboreal forests (destruction of habitats, poisoned ground water, particulates in the air, more cancers downstream, the usual horrorshow but now with added takes-us-right-to-an-atmosphere-so-laden-with-carbon-that-we-will-fry-ourselves.)
It doesn't outstay its welcome, it doesn't insult its audience's intelligence, and it has at least a few 'positives' for you to take away. It's a far, far better effort than "the Age of Stupid."

This was the UK launch, and it was held in 25 cinemas across the UK. There was a live video link up before and after, to the Barbican in London, where the director and one of the people in the film did a good Q and A afterwards.

The Co-op did a good thing here. This was a friendly and largely efficient operation (couple of technical glitches, but there always are...). Only one criticism, one MCFly makes all the time; events like this are great opportunities to build loose links between people who might have a lot in common/to offer each other, but never meet because of classic English reserve. So if, as one of the interviewees in the movie says, "saving civilisation is not a spectator sport", why not break through the 'everyone in rows looking forward', by having the specetators turn for a couple of minutes and talk to the person behind them? Just sayin'...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Copenhagen Accord-ing to Gort

Prolific Manchester-based cartoonist Marc Roberts has produced a cartoon guide to the recent "Copenhagen Accord".

I'm biased (because I scripted the first draft), but I think it's bloody brilliant.

Be v. interested to know what other people think...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Climate Disaster to hit Women Hardest

On Wednesday 17th March there's a Manchester Climate Forum called "Worse for Women" on the subject of Gender and Climate Change. It starts at 7.30pm, at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. All are welcome.

Up for discussion are questions such as:
  • What are the ways in which women are affected differently (and more) by climate change around the world?
  • What needs to be done about that?
  • What are the reasons behind the persistent and sometimes huge gender imbalance in audiences at any meeting with a title including "Climate Change" in Manchester?
  • What needs to be done about that?

On the same subject, there's a 65 page report just out from the rather wonderful Women's Environmental Network on the very subject:
Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) will today launch an extensive report in the House of Commons documenting how catastrophe related to climate change will have a much greater impact on women, including in the UK if the Government fails to address gender inequality.
The report, entitled ‘Engendering Change’, points out that because of ongoing gender inequality; different social roles; and simple biology, women are more likely to die in extreme weather conditions; suffer from increased workload; and be subject to abuse, including sexual violence, in resource conflicts exacerbated by climate change.