Manchester City Council

Commuting Nightmare

As an ex-Mathematician I'm wholly in favour of getting more young people to pursue the STEM subjects (for an earlier complainer about acronyms that's science, technology, engineering and maths) but I'm not going to apologise for talking about the Art Gallery again.

I've just been to a preview of a a fantastic new exhibition at the gallery called 'Recorders' which combines artistic creativity with a lot of technology and interactivity. Suggest arriving at the gallery early because this is definitely a can't miss and I predict enormous audiences.

The Council's Executive met earlier today. Not characteristically, I arrive a couple of minutes late but even so I thought it was a pretty impressive performance to have breakfast at a hotel at Helsinki airport and still be only a few minutes late for a 10am meeting at Manchester Town Hall. I'd spent Sunday and Monday in Shanghai speaking (twice) at an Urban Development Summit organised by the Financial Times, part of the UK programme relating to the World Expo. It was a chance to promote Manchester, learn from many of the other speakers, and make a lot of contacts, some of which I'll be following up very quickly! I'd hoped to be back yesterday tea-time, but a four and a half hour delay at Shanghai scuppered that, hence an enforced over night in Finland. Not a commute I intend to do again if I can help it and will be back on my bike tomorrow starting to pay back all that carbon. I do remain absolutely convinced though that Manchester's future depends on it being an international city and that does depend on putting the city out there. Coming out of recession makes it even more important to continue to project Manchester as a dynamic, progressive city that is still moving forward.

Some interesting items on the Executive agenda including Manchester Day and the government's consultation on their proposed changes to policing. The best known feature of that is the proposal for a directly elected police commissioner but it also raises a lot of other questions about neighbourhood policing and local accountability. The full agenda and the reports are accessible elsewhere on the website for those who want to know more. Off shortly to an evening meeting in Chorlton Park and then hopefully an early night.

There are 26 responses to “Commuting Nightmare”

  1. Miffed Says:

    Every working day is a commuting nightmare for myself and thousands of other Mancunians. Any chance you could sort it out for us rather than jetting of to Shanghai for some pointless summit?

  2. Marc Hudson Says:

    Given the airmiles you've racked up just there, I guess it is a blessing that the Council's Internatl Delivery Plan for the Climate Change Action Plan was delayed until (at least) October, eh? At some point, as per my last (unanswered) comment on this blog, Manchester will be taking ownership of some percentage of the carbon emissions from the international flights landing and taking off at our beloved airport. Any plan for carbon reduction is going to have to account for that...

  3. Manchester Art Gallery Says:

    'Recorders' opens on Saturday and yes, its definitely something special.

  4. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    What Marc said.

  5. Bill Raymond Says:

    OK, lets calculate how many cycle miles you'll need to do to "pay back" that carbon.
    One way Manchester to Shanghai racks up 1652.42 kg of CO2e (DEFRA figures) - for the round trip that's a bit more than 3 of the million tons the city will need to save for the A Certain Future target.
    Now by going on the bike you don't actually make negative emissions - you've still got to eat, but just to give a scale of comparison let's calculate how many miles by bike Richard would have to do to emit that much carbon. It rather depends on what you eat but it has been calculated that powered on milk and cereals, you'd emit 90g per mile (Tim Berners Lee, Guardian, ). So it would take 1652420/0.09 miles to generate the same amount of CO2.
    That's 18,360,222 (call it 18 million) miles!
    SO that'll be 36 million miles for the round trip please Sir Richard!

    Better start pedalling now Sir Richard!

    Now a better way would have been via an electronic link-up.
    Would anyone like to calculate the saving that would have been possible from that?

  6. Concerned Says:

    What Bill said. I'm baffled that someone who professes to support the STEM subjects could believe that they could 'pay back' carbon by cycling.

  7. ABU Says:

    Its all very easy to be critical about airmiles but the fact remains its all relative. Some people have very different jobs. Richard clearly has a very unique job in Manchester which results in a unique set of travelling circumstances. To start finger pointing at individuals doesn’t help the argument….

    Perhaps instead you should applaud the new green kerbside wheely bins that have appeared outside houses last week which will collect all food waste? Or the contract to extend the tram network even further?

  8. Miffed Says:

    ABU, I fail to see how having a bin full of rotting food that only gets collected every fortnight is a good thing. The black bins were troublesome enough this summer considering the prevalence of maggots and flies, not to mention rodents and other pests.

  9. Marc Hudson Says:

    Hello ABU,
    this is not about criticising an individual (though as a political leader, that is what Richard Leese both expects and gets, and deals with pretty well when he puts his mind to it), but pointing out (as I have on another blog post) that Manchester City Council IS going to have to take responsibility for some proportion of the emissions from the Airport that it owns 55% of and is actively trying to get more people to use. (The fact that Manchester City Council is currently in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, for not revealing how many flights were made in 2008 and 2009, is neither here nor there. When they finally do, you will be able to read about it in Manchester Climate Fortnightly.
    The things you mention are indeed praiseworthy, but the carbon saved is totally dwarfed by the planned for and hoped for expectations in aviation. A question ABU- if one of your friends had been told by the doctor to lose weight, and you saw them scoffing three fry-ups at the local Wetherspoons, and they told you that they were going to have a low-calorie desert to compensate for it, what would you say to them?

  10. Bill Raymond Says:

    Well ABU you are right up to a point. But as David MacKay say in "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot AIr" - "If we all do a little we will achieve a little." Sir Richard clearly has a high profile job and I'm not even altogether against him going to Shanghai to share and gain ideas about running cities (It is mass air travel that does the damage), but let's not pretend that there is no cost to this and that it can be 'paid back' so easily.

  11. sySTEMic living Says:

    Concerned says...
    "I'm baffled that someone who professes to support the STEM subjects could believe that they could 'pay back' carbon by cycling."

    As an alternative to driving in a car, a bike has got to be a saving.

  12. ABU Says:

    @Marc Hudson
    I agree with most of what you say. I am hugely against the expansion of the airport and believe that flights should be closely monitored. Manchester airport should grow no further in both size and incoming/outgoing flights. However I am not naïve enough (not you but generally!) to think that someone like Sir Richard should be giving up flights altogether.

    Someone else has mentioned that if everyone does a little then it helps a lot and again I agree with that but an understanding of the relative differences between peoples jobs needs to be factored in. Sir Richard, David Cameron, Head of HSBC or whoever have very different jobs that simply couldn’t be done without Aeroplanes. They make up a tiny minority of fliers.

    David Cameron could fly where ever the hell he likes when ever he likes, whats important is that green initiatives don’t just get tax breaks and incentives but are actually legislated for. NOT you will be better off if you do this BUT it will be illegal if you don’t.

    My advise is to stop picking on Richards travelling habits that effects just one person and start applauding initiatives that effects half a million.

    I’m not sure I understand the relevance of the breakfast analogy although it has made my mouth water!

  13. realist Says:

    Miffed, I'm now convinced that you should take up a new career as a professional moaner. You can put your hand to any topic, a real gift in the professional moaning profession. Lighten up a bit, makes you feel good.

  14. Marc Hudson Says:

    Hi ABU,

    glad we agree on the airport (we must be right!)

    Sorry you don't get the analogy.
    The doctor prescribing the diet is the climate scientists saying we have to go easy on the carbon emissions or there'll be trouble. The friend in the Wetherspoons is - in this particular case - the people who are doing everything they can to expand the Airport and make Manchester a world city. Although they claim the diet is important, they're growing the airport (stuffing face with fry-ups). The low calorie desert is the cycling - irrelevant to the diet's success, but makes you FEEL as if you're doing something.
    I would, sadly, say, that the recycling of food waste is not going to make a HUGE difference. The savings will be wiped out by the growth in aviation....
    Best wishes
    Marc Hudson

  15. Richard Leese Says:

    Marc, I understand you're returning to Australia soon. Just out of curiosity, how are you planning to get there and how did you get here in the first place?

  16. Marc Hudson Says:

    Interesting Richard, that rather than address the substantive point (that Manchester is going to have to include emissions from the airport in its carbon budget) that you finally respond by asking a question you already know the answer to. Nice to see such a commitment to rational debate from you.

    As you well know, I am flying to Australia. I am really unhappy about the idea, and I will be finding out how much the normal 'offset' price is and then donating the sum to a proper environmental organisation that can keep tabs on, oh, I don't know, a local authority that is good on greenwash but fairly useless on actually delivering anything. Can you help me out by suggesting one?
    This is, by the way, the first flight I have taken in four years, and it is being taken to visit (quite possibly for the last time) my aging parents. I am staying for a year (so you don't have to go to the bother of initially responding to and then ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests for a while) and coming back overland. I can't go overland both ways. I do not have the time or the money. If I did, I would. A question back to you then - one that I know the answer to, since you've established a precedent- , how did you and your director of Environmental Strategy get to and from the Copenhagen conference last year, a journey for which there was a perfectly feasible land route. I seem to recall this issue was raised via the figleaf known as the Environmental Advisory Panel, and duly ignored.

  17. Ian Says:

    Ah Richard you've spotted the problum 'don't do what i do do as i say'

    Mind i might be wrong could be going on a slow boat.

  18. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    Kettle. Pot.

  19. Maxell Says:

    I find the to-and-fro regarding Sir Richard's carbon airmiles just totally misses the point. The trip and others that the Leader takes are a vital part of the promotion of this city. Where do you think the international contacts the city has come from? How do you think we gain so much inward investment from foreign owned companies. The comments I have seen are shortsighted. How on earth could Manchester create personal relationships with international figures by having an video conference meeting. All things in context please.

  20. Marc Hudson Says:

    It's extraordinary that Richard Leese of all people thinks playing the "hypocrisy card" is safe and sensible. But it appears - from the comments below his - to have worked. What a surprise.
    To raise the quality of debate, it might be worth re-reading what I wrote. I did not criticise the fact that he had flown (but did point out that there was an irony that he was late for a meeting where a Carbon Reduction Plan had been due to be discussed). I then perfectly clearly pointed out that Manchester WILL have to take ownership of a proportion (50%? More?) of the international aviation emissions connected with Manchester Airport. This is a very very simple point, which Richard Leese is keen to distract people who read this blog from discussing. And it is working. THAT is the point, Maxwell, that by framing this as "toing and froing about Richard Leese's airmiles" you are indeed contributing to the missing of the point. Turning Manchester into a 'World City' is going to mean more carbon emissions. And this will blow a huge hole in the 41% carbon dioxide reduction target by 2020 that I am sure all commenters on this blog whole-heartedly endorse. Even if they don't, the author of this blog has.

  21. Keep It Real Says:

    Bravo Marc, I look forward to reading the Leaders none personal/cutting rebuff to your explanation of personal travelling habits.
    Maxell, this ‘to-and-fro’ is legitimate debate and whilst I accept the Leader has a need for travel we cannot discount the exploration of alternative technologies to communicate with our peers throughout the world. Until we find an alternative to petroleum based air travel then maybe the wide screen meeting could do in the mean time. As Manchester likes to lead in the world then maybe we could lead on this?

    As for paying back the carbon by cycling a couple of miles…..don’t get me started!

  22. Sally Tate Says:

    Some people on here really don't get it, do they. Ego-boosting 'international links' and 'inward investment' will be very little use to us in a post-carbon, climate-changed world, which they are simply hurrying us towards. It's like going to a Weightwatchers class and claiming that the huge doughnut you ate beforehand helped give you the energy to get there. The council has to talk a bit of greenwash because 'world class cities' have to look like they care about modern stuff like that, but Manchester council's still stuck in the industrial revolution, both in its emissions and its mindset.

  23. Dave Bishop Says:

    "Don't do what I do, do as I say" is Manchester City Council's motto, isn't it? I think it's on the city's coat of arms ... possibly ...?

  24. Noj Says:

    All this talk of carbon air miles, communting to work for me consists of paying £11 for my megarider, mind you at minimum wage that is 14% of my weekly income. Shanghai indeed, furthest I can get is Hazel Grove

  25. green but real Says:

    There must be a lot of carbons in the hot air it takes to produce the comments of these professional whiners! Manchester, a city that probably does more than any other in the country on green issues, still can't get it right. Noone ever will. If we all lived in cardboard boxes and ate raw lentils it wouldn't be enough for these people, if they paused long enough in the departures terminal to notice.

  26. Marc Hudson Says:

    Hello "Green but Real"
    (I'm green and real too, btw).
    "There must be a lot of carbons in the hot air it takes to produce the comments of these professional whiners!"
    Actually, no-one pays me to 'whine' (funny how pointing out inconvenient truths is 'whining'. If there are any paid gigs whining, please do let me know. As it is, I sit unpaid on Manchester City Council's Environmental Advisory Panel, and also produce Manchester Climate Fortnightly, which takes a hell of a lot of time. What do you do, by the way?
    " Manchester, a city that probably does more than any other in the country on green issues, still can't get it right."

    Manchester certainly TALKS a lot about doing things, but that is distinct from actually doing anything. What sorts of things are you thinking Manchester actually does, compared to Melbourne, or Stockholm, or Toronto, or Kirklees or so forth? Some examples of where Manchester is doing more than other cities would be very welcome from you.

    "Noone ever will. If we all lived in cardboard boxes and ate raw lentils it wouldn't be enough for these people, if they paused long enough in the departures terminal to notice."
    So you here seem to be saying that anyone who criticises the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan for not taking into account international aviation emissions is "too busy in the departure lounge." Odd comment really. As I said earlier, the next flight I take will be my first in four years. I think you also might like to consider the consequences of NOT taking immediate and deep action to reduce our emissions - all of them, not just the ones that it is convenient to count. The cost of 'unmitigated' climate change is going to be utterly enormous, and leaves us far more likely to be in cardboard boxes and thinking lentils a feast. I think your attempt to frame this as "do nothing and we will be ok" versus "take action and we will be back in the dark ages" is not one that really, um, flies. Even Richard Leese concedes that much!!



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