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Manchester City Council accused of failing to provide sufficient resources to combat the climate emergency

Environmental campaigners in Manchester call on the city council to allocate more resources to tackling the climate emergency. An emergency the council declared it would tackle in July 2019.

Since Manchester City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in July, no additional resources have been allocated to combat the emergency, according to details released by the council to local environmental campaigners.

The information was released in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Climate Emergency Manchester, a campaign group formed in response to the councils climate emergency declaration in July, to make sure the declaration was acted upon.

The council agreed to take climate change into account in all its decisions following its declaration in July and said it would consider bringing its target of becoming carbon neutral in 2038 forward by eight years to 2030. To achieve carbon neutrality  the volume of greenhouse gases emitted in the region, such as carbon dioxide, needs to be reduced to allow carbon emissions to be balanced by carbon removal measures, such as tree planting.

The FOI response released by the council said “no additional staff have been seconded to work on this area since July 2019”. In response to a question about whether any new budget allocations or other resources had been provided to tackle the emergency, the council replied that they did not hold any information on specific values, but since the climate emergency several members of staff had “been requested to carry out work relating to climate change activity as part of their current roles”.

The council also confirmed that they had not submitted any bids for external funding to combat the climate crisis since July, but were continuing to explore “opportunities to bid for external funding where these would complement our work in this area”.

Callum McFarlane of Climate Emergency Manchester said of the councils response:

“This is disappointing, but not surprising. We know that many councillors genuinely care and want to see action. They, like us, are angry at the lack of any sense of urgency from the leadership of the council, both elected and unelected. We will continue to work with people throughout Manchester to raise not just the level of ambition, but also action. We need deeds, not words.”

Manchester’s current plan to become carbon neutral, endorsed by the council in March 2019, commits to reducing carbon dioxide by 13% year-on-year. Research by the Manchester Climate Agency found that the reduction last year was just 2.5%, suggesting the council has some way to go to achieve its commitments.

In September Friends of the Earth released a league table of all local authorities in England and Wales, ranking them in order of their performance on tackling climate change. Manchester came in at position 50 in the league, which included 371 local authorities, with a score of 76%. Top of the league was Wiltshire with 92%; Salford had the highest score in Greater Manchester at 84% and bottom of the league was Spelthorne with 40%. Bonus points were awarded for councils which had declared a climate emergency, which will have boosted Manchester’s score.

Friends of the Earth highlighted the following areas in which Manchester needs to do much better on: “increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, increasing renewable energy, and increasing waste recycling”. They also called on Greater Manchester to stop promoting new roads, prevent the doubling of passengers at Manchester Airport, and stop investing the GM pension fund in fossil fuels.

Rose Arnold is a member of Rising Up! Manchester Families, a climate action group which is also part of Extinction Rebellion. Arnold believes that declaring the climate emergency was a vital step in the right direction but is disappointed with the lack of resources allocated to the emergency by the council, saying:

“There’s no way the changes needed can be carried out without resources. At the very least a team is needed, which should include a member of the Executive Committee. We are deeply worried that the declaration of emergency won’t translate into the action needed.”

Climate Emergency Manchester will publish their first quarterly progress report on the council’s actions to tackle the climate emergency, on Thursday 10 October. The report based on information gathered by FOI requests will be available on Climate Emergency Manchester’s website.

 

Conrad Bower

The FOI response can be viewed here

Featured image: Climate Emergency Declaration Petition

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