Manchester City Council

A Change in the Weather

Two gloriously sunny, warm Spring days, so what could be better for this week's Climate Week, and the dozens of events taking place around the city looking at mitigation and adaptation in response to global warming.

My week began with the second meeting of the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub. The Hub is in the middle of establishing a number of working groups looking at themes like energy, biodiversity, consumption, skills bringing together public, private and third sectors and much of the work of the Hub will be led by those sub-groups. Yesterday's meeting discussed progress in and issues from all of the groups as well as some wider items, Green Deal, the joint venture with the Green Investment Bank, and a proposed memorandum of understanding with Defra included.

The Energy Group raised a very interesting dilemma. Greater Manchester's industrial legacy of lots of weirs in our rivers gives lots of potential for generating hydro electricity but, when they can, the Environment Agency are removing weirs because they're bad for fish life. Suspect we will have far more problems like this, but in the meantime any solutions?

In the afternoon, it was Manchester A Certain Future's third conference. It was able to report on progress since MACR was first published in 2009, and review the action plan for the next three years. Manchester's action plan would appear to still be the country's only Stakeholder written and steered climate change action plan, and thanks to the efforts of the Steering Group and all the stakeholders progress is being made. One bit of evidence to support that is that in the Environment Agency's carbon reduction commitment league table published last week, Manchester City Council was top public body and 4th overall out of 2000 organisations.

However I have no intention of spending too much time being self-congratulatory or slip into complacency. Progress is being made, but not fast enough!

There are 9 responses to “A Change in the Weather”

  1. Green Central Gov Says:

    Congratulations to Manchester for being 4th overall but some may ask what is the point when MP's agreed yesterday to subsidise biofuels including palm oil which cost more carbon than it saves. Still it will help the UK meet its target but actually increase the golbal carbon issue.

  2. Marc Hudson Says:

    Hello Richard, sadly I wasn't able to make it along to the MACF conference. Still, have enjoyed reading about it on Manchester Climate Monthly. Nobody seems to have had a chance to raise many questions about the vaunted progress though. One statistic that keeps giving me nightmares (besids the growth stats for the airport, of course) is this. The goal was for 1000 organisations to endorse the Action Plan (and then write their own implementation plans). In the end, 220ish organisations endorsed the plan (and some of those are now surely defunct). And how many of those endorsers went on to write their own implementation plans? Er, 2 - the Council and Northwards Housing. So what is the point of a stakeholder plan if hardly any stakeholders have endorsed it, and none of them has written their own implementation plan? Curious.
    Marc Hudson

  3. Richard Leese Says:

    @Marc Hudson Might help if you put some of your obvious energy towards helping deliver MACF instead of sitting on the sidelines carping and obsessing about process

  4. Marc Hudson Says:

    Dear Richard,
    I have spent three years trying to put my "obvious" energy towards delivering it. You say I am "carping from the sidelines". But as you are very aware, both myself and my co-editor, Arwa Aburawa, were emphatically excluded from attending the "Stakeholder" conference by the outgoing chair of the Steering Group. So, hard really to blame us for "sitting on the sidelines"! I also don't understand how missing a target of 1000 implementation plans by a grand total of 998 can be trivialised as "obsessing about process." Perhaps we could sit down over a voice recorder and have an interview, as we did in January 2012? Best wishes
    Marc Hudson

  5. Dave Bishop Says:

    The theme of biodiversity in Greater Manchester certainly needs looking at! My perception is that we're losing what we have left fast.
    As I see it, the proposed abolition of the Mersey Valley Wardens, and other Warden services, is either a disaster (it certainly is for those likely to lose their jobs!) or an opportunity for a complete re-think. There are plenty of knowledgeable people locally who I'm sure would be happy to make a positive contribution to any re-think.

  6. Mark Burton Says:

    Congratulations to MCC and the MACF Steering Group on the recognition, and thank you for sharing your impatience about pace in your last sentence. Let's hope that gap between aspiration and achievement can be the spur to robust action.
    I'd like to make what I hope is a constructive comment on the interchange above. I don't agree with the way in which Mcr Climate Monthly has made some of its comments on the progress of MACF, especially the language used (on occasion) about people who I do believe are trying to do a good job. But I do think that some important points have been raised over the last months. These include questions about the real level of ongoing commitment from stakeholders (which appears to contrast with the exemplary approach to involvement in the writing and revision of the plan). The Steering Group has not always been very good at communicating what it is doing. I personally don't think that has been because it is trying to hide anything, and the outgoing chair has acknowledged some such shortcomings recently.
    It would be good for Manchester if all this can now be put behind us. All those with an interest in making Manchester climate-safe need to be included. Constructive criticism, that's two words, makes us all stronger - and both 'sides' need to take both words seriously.

  7. Walking on the Wild Side Says:

    @Marc Hudson - I think people should be made aware that you are a co editor of Manchester Climate Monthly.

  8. Marc Hudson Says:

    @Walking on the Wild Side - care to share your name, since you are keen on accountability? I also wrote "But as you are very aware, both myself and my co-editor, Arwa Aburawa" - hardly hiding, was I? The broader point is this - when you try to report critically and constructively on what is and especially is NOT happening - you are either ignored, patronised or accused of sitting on the sidelines. After a while, it becomes clear that only applause and re-printing press releases are regarded as "responsible" journalism.

  9. Walking on the Wild Side Says:

    @Marc Hudson. I was simply clarifying that you are the co editor of a publication that you cited as a source in your first post. Whilst there is an implication in a later post that you are a co editor of a publication, it is not clear to people who perhaps don't know you, that they are one and the same. I would also say that the level of criticism on Mcfly can cross from constructive to vindictive on occasion. As to who am I? I am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprise.

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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