A Viable Future? Explorations in post-growth – free ebook

Our collection of writings is now available.


A Viable Future? Explorations in post-growth from Steady State Manchester is a collection of our work from the last decade.

This monster (it’s nearly 400 pages long) is available as a free ebook, in both epub and pdf formats. A paperback version is now available at little more than cost price – go to our shop page to order.

Contents

Click here to see the book contents (opens in new tab/window)

Get the book!

Alternative link for pdf here.

Endorsements

This book is unusual in combining a practical local perspective, grounded in the Greater Manchester region, with a conceptual understanding of the dimensions of the existential ecological and social crisis that we are living through.  It will be a valuable resource for members of the degrowth movement and their allies, whether activists, scholars, or those working within existing systems such as government agencies.

Federico Demaria, University of Barcelona, co-editor of Degrowth and Pluriverse, co-author of The case for degrowth.

For the last 14 years Steady State Manchester has consistently produced critical and constructive writing that challenges not only the status quo extractive economy, but even some of the popular alternatives. They have done this from a real place and context, moving their work from purely theoretical, to deeply practical, even personal. The analysis is deep and clearly argued. Post Covid and in the midst of escalating climate disruption, we must rethink the very foundations of our economy, putting the wellbeing of people and place firmly in the centre of our designs. I recommend this collection of essays as invaluable reading for permaculture designers, degrowthers and climate activists, ecological and political economists, policy makers and indeed anyone serious about creating an economy that genuinely works for people and planet.

Andy Goldring, PermacultureAssociation CEO, trainer, activist / Our Future Leeds City Hub Coordinator.

Manchester has always played a central role in the world history. Manchester was at the heart of the growth of both industrial capitalism and the resulting strong and violently repressed social and emancipatory movements. So it is logical and fruitful to go back to Greater Manchester and explore the continuity of such movements questioning the pillars of our Western model of society based on capitalism, neoliberalism, productivism or consumerism. This book is an invitation to explore the rich experience of the Steady State Manchester collective fighting against our toxic addictions to economic growth and reflecting on their activism and intellectual and academic debates. This journey can provide meaningful thoughts but also feedback and examples on different levels and strategies to bring out the broad in-depth philosophy behind Post-Growth or degrowth in a practical and pragmatic ways.

Vincent Liegey, co-author of Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide (Pluto Press, 2020).

For the past 14 years, a plucky and fearless group of citizen-scholars has been taking the ideas of post-growth to the heartland of the industrial revolution: the city of Manchester. This book covers the wide-ranging contributions of Steady State Manchester, from local campaigns on urban planning to universal considerations on alternative economics. Its stands as a testament to the fact that a small & dedicated group of people can achieve huge feats of civic creativity, and should serve as a basis of reflection and inspiration for many others around the world.

Professor Julia Steinberger, Institute of Geography & Sustainability, Faculty of Geosciences & Environment, University of Lausanne.

This collection of reports, articles and new commentary from Steady State Manchester is a vital resource for anyone living in Greater Manchester who wants to see system change.

This book is for you if you’ve heard of Positive Money but aren’t sure if their ideas map onto a de-growth agenda (they don’t), or have wondered if in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we would be living within planetary limits (sadly not). The authors’ starting premise that the economy must be socially and ecologically viable provides a yardstick with which to judge a range of political economy, monetary and social policy approaches at different scales.

The book leaves you in no doubt about the enormity of the challenges but offers ways forward and highlights principles with which to align other work, proposing workable policies to inspire activists, academics and the Greater Manchester policy community as a whole. This anchoring of action at the Greater Manchester (‘bioregional’) level helps distract from paralysing gloom and creates a sense of potential to participate in the work of radical re-prioritisation.

Although they don’t flinch from hard truths, Steady State Manchester encourage us to think that we all can contribute to building resilience and helping prefigure the kind of change that’s needed at pace and at scale.

Hannah Berry, Greater Manchester Housing Action.

Steady State Manchester provide a welcome challenge to the continued drive for economic growth in the city.  Better still, they hold an important space for the people of the city to deliberate and to design a viable alternative; an economy that works for people, place and planet, not just the pockets of a few.  It is great to see the evolution of their collective thinking pulled together in one book.  I urge you to read, pull apart, scribble on as you wish.  Most importantly I urge you to join in the conversation, to help reimagine and to dig in as stewards of Manchester and earthlings of this planet, we are lucky to call home.

Eve Holt, Councillor, Manchester City Council; Director Happen Together CIC and Manchester resident.

This book is testament to the enduring influence, relevance and persistence of the ideas and energies of Steady State Manchester. ”A Viable Future” is grounded in experience and practical knowledge within a clear intellectual framework that pushes forward understanding and action about the options and limits for post-growth. Greater Manchester provides the bedrock for testing and exploring far-reaching propositions that extend across economy, welfare, environment, planning and politics. A must-read for anyone committed to researching and enacting systemic transformations.

Professor Beth Perry, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

An eye-opener that shows how the privatization of gains and socialization of pains – both social and environmental costs, can be reimagined, deliberated democratically and reversed! The most appealing aspect of this book is its engagement at the meso level. This is a book from the optimal ‘halfway down the stairs’ position, contrasting with the fool’s paradise of continuous economic growth, a bridge book that lays down the choices involved in our transitions to a sustainable and fair world. The bioregional conceptualization brings pragmatic social and economic opportunities and highlights the philosophical implications for science and policy, where the stocks, funds and flows of matter and energy as well as the information about multiple biophysical, social and economic interactions and exchanges are made visible, happy and fair.

Dr. Rajeswari S. Raina, Professor: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University, Uttar Pradesh, India. Co-editor, Post-growth thinking in India (2018).

In this book Steady State Manchester powerfully shows that to bring about a Viable Future, it is crucial to think and act both locally and globally. Place, they argue, is fundamental for imagining alternatives, whilst inseparable from worldwide efforts to tackle crises of planetary scale. Taking the reader through local struggles and activism in Greater Manchester, politics and policy proposals in the region, the UK and beyond, this book debunks false solutions and inspires thinking.

Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Lund University, co-editor of Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth and member of the editorial collective of ephemera journal.

Posted in analysis, news, publications | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy – a critical review

a guest piece by Peter Somerville

In this devastating critique, Peter Somerville makes a detailed examination of the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy. Read his review in full here.

He begins by setting the strategy in context.

Cover of the UK Net Zero Strategy report

When the government published their Ten Point Plan a year ago they recognised that it did not go far enough to fulfil their international commitment to reducing carbon emissions. One year on, their Net Zero Strategy does go a little further, but still falls far short of what is required. The problems inherent in the original plan persist, namely:

  • A failure to recognise that the world is now experiencing a climate emergency, and therefore that more drastic action is required in the short term (before 2025) to reduce carbon emissions (see p18, Fig 1, or p77, Fig 13 – minimal reductions up to 2025)
  • A continuing (and increasing) reliance on problematic technologies that do not currently exist at scale, particularly in carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) – e.g. direct air carbon capture
  • A failure to explain clearly how expected future carbon savings have been calculated, particularly in industry, buildings and transport
  • A neglect of issues relating to agriculture, food, land use and energy storage
  • An emphasis on constructing new nuclear power plants, with a new (from 2022) Future Nuclear Enabling Fund of £120 million, but with no net increase in nuclear power capacity likely until after 2030 (Minus 45 – UK FIRES, p7); in the meantime construction work is adding significantly to carbon emissions (see, for example: Record-breaking concrete pour lays Hinkley Point base slab)
  • An emphasis on GDP growth, despite the strong correlation between such growth and increasing carbon emissions
  • A lack of clarity about how specific policies could achieve intended emission reductions, e.g. on hydrogen
  • A failure to curb the expansion of aviation to 2030 and beyond (an expansion that is encouraged rather than hindered by the latest spending review’s decision to cut air passenger duty)
  • A failure to take account of other government programmes that increase rather than reduce emissions, e.g. increased spending on roads (£27 billion) and defence (£24 billion) up to 2024.

Peter concludes:

In spite of progress in a number of areas, for example on the decarbonisation of electricity and industry, and possibly on restoring peatland, planting trees and reducing waste, this Strategy is little changed from the Ten Point Plan of a year ago. Progress on heat and buildings has stalled, due in part to the failure of the Green Homes Grant, and strategy on other sectors, such as transport and agriculture, remains confused and irrational, and inadequate to achieve the government’s goals. Overall, the Strategy lacks urgency, coherence or precision. Far from being the promised green industrial revolution, the Strategy seems focused on merely incremental change, such as from internal combustion engines to electric ones, from fossil-fuel boilers to low-carbon heating appliances, with continuing support for unsustainable aviation – no real modal shift from private to public transport or from unsustainable to sustainable farming.

This strategy fails to demonstrate that the UK can stay within its Sixth Carbon Budget, which is itself too loose to ensure that the UK makes its fair contribution to limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (Calculating a fair carbon budget for the UK). The strategy takes no account of the UK’s historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions or for emissions embodied in imports or of the City of London’s key role in funding fossil fuels. It has nothing to say about divesting from fossil-fuel companies or about banks and pension funds divesting from those companies. It offers no forms of regulation or mandatory legislation that would be sufficient to bring about the necessary divestment. It exudes complacency by failing to comply with Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommendations (as of June 2021, the CCC’s 2021 Progress Report to Parliament, p16 stated: ‘credible policies for delivery currently cover only around 20% of the required reduction in emissions to meet the Sixth Carbon Budget’), and by effectively postponing decisive mitigative action until after 2025. The only amendment it suggests to the Climate Change Act 2008 is one that would include negative emissions technologies in the carbon budget, which would have the effect of making the carbon budget even looser than it is already, thus reducing the need for immediate and effective action – yet another clear step backwards rather than forwards in the struggle to prevent catastrophic climate change. Above all it continues to promote alleged climate ‘solutions’ that exist, if at all, only in the longer term (e.g. nuclear power and carbon capture and storage), while failing to act decisively in the short term and indeed continuing to support and encourage the fossil fuel extraction and burning that is primarily responsible for causing the current global climate emergency.

Read Peter’s review of the Net Zero Strategy in full.

Posted in analysis, Climate Change | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Carbon and Planning Workbook

Diagram showing the carbon transactions of interest in planning

This is a guide for local campaigners who want to estimate the carbon (greenhouse gas) consequences of proposed planning developments on local land.

It takes you through the various aspects to consider and data that you can use in your estimates. It also aims to forewarn you of potential problems and uncertainties in making such estimates. This first, test, edition is very much work in progress so feedback and suggestions will be very welcome.

The workbook provides information you can use for estimating the specific carbon consequences of a development. You do not have to be mathematicians or engineers to work this out, it is a high level estimate (not a finely crafted precision calculation) that can be used to evaluate and, where necessary, to challenge the development.

To access the files, CLICK HERE

There are two items:

The workbook, with discussion of the issues, information on sources of data and hints and tips. It is available in pdf and two word processor versions (.ods and .docx).

A spreadsheet that you can edit for your own calculations, available in .xlsx and ods versions.

The files can be downloaded and used by you. You can also share them. However, please don’t produce derivative versions without our permission and please do acknowledge us in your work.

For later versions check the permanent page: The Carbon and Planning Workbook

We are grateful to Friends of Carrington Moss for the stimulus to develop this workbook, and for comments on an earlier version.

Posted in Climate Change, explainers, Planning | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Can Cop26 lead to a viable future? The Meteor interviews us.

The Meteor is an increasingly indispensable source of news for Greater Manchester an beyond. It is a worker co-op “a not-for-profit, independent media co-operative – an alternative, radical, community-based publication for the people of Manchester.”

Conrad Bower, editor and co-founder, interviewed us on the occasion of both the COP26 Climate Conference and the publication of our book, A Viable Future?

In the interview we discussed the prospects for real success at COP (slim, we think), Manchester’s climate plans and the contradiction with the pursuit of continued economic growth, alternatives to degrowth, the decoupling myth, and low hanging policy options.

You can read the interview here.

Posted in analysis, Climate Change, Greater Manchester | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming up: “A Viable Future?”

We will shortly publish our collection of writings from Steady State Manchester from the last decade.


A Viable Future? Explorations in post-growth from Steady State Manchester will be available as a free ebook (epub and pdf versions) and soon as a paperback. We are just finalising the ebook version so watch this space.

To whet your appetite, here are some endorsements from those who have had a preview of the book.

This book is unusual in combining a practical local perspective, grounded in the Greater Manchester region, with a conceptual understanding of the dimensions of the existential ecological and social crisis that we are living through.  It will be a valuable resource for members of the degrowth movement and their allies, whether activists, scholars, or those working within existing systems such as government agencies.

Federico Demaria, University of Barcelona, co-editor of Degrowth and Pluriverse, co-author of The case for degrowth.

For the last 14 years Steady State Manchester has consistently produced critical and constructive writing that challenges not only the status quo extractive economy, but even some of the popular alternatives. They have done this from a real place and context, moving their work from purely theoretical, to deeply practical, even personal. The analysis is deep and clearly argued. Post Covid and in the midst of escalating climate disruption, we must rethink the very foundations of our economy, putting the wellbeing of people and place firmly in the centre of our designs. I recommend this collection of essays as invaluable reading for permaculture designers, degrowthers and climate activists, ecological and political economists, policy makers and indeed anyone serious about creating an economy that genuinely works for people and planet.

Andy Goldring, PermacultureAssociation CEO, trainer, activist / Our Future Leeds City Hub Coordinator.

Manchester has always played a central role in the world history. Manchester was at the heart of the growth of both industrial capitalism and the resulting strong and violently repressed social and emancipatory movements. So it is logical and fruitful to go back to Greater Manchester and explore the continuity of such movements questioning the pillars of our Western model of society based on capitalism, neoliberalism, productivism or consumerism. This book is an invitation to explore the rich experience of the Steady State Manchester collective fighting against our toxic addictions to economic growth and reflecting on their activism and intellectual and academic debates. This journey can provide meaningful thoughts but also feedback and examples on different levels and strategies to bring out the broad in-depth philosophy behind Post-Growth or degrowth in a practical and pragmatic ways.

Vincent Liegey, co-author of Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide (Pluto Press, 2020).

For the past 14 years, a plucky and fearless group of citizen-scholars has been taking the ideas of post-growth to the heartland of the industrial revolution: the city of Manchester. This book covers the wide-ranging contributions of Steady State Manchester, from local campaigns on urban planning to universal considerations on alternative economics. Its stands as a testament to the fact that a small & dedicated group of people can achieve huge feats of civic creativity, and should serve as a basis of reflection and inspiration for many others around the world.

Professor Julia Steinberger, Institute of Geography & Sustainability, Faculty of Geosciences & Environment, University of Lausanne.

This collection of reports, articles and new commentary from Steady State Manchester is a vital resource for anyone living in Greater Manchester who wants to see system change.

This book is for you if you’ve heard of Positive Money but aren’t sure if their ideas map onto a de-growth agenda (they don’t), or have wondered if in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we would be living within planetary limits (sadly not). The authors’ starting premise that the economy must be socially and ecologically viable provides a yardstick with which to judge a range of political economy, monetary and social policy approaches at different scales.

The book leaves you in no doubt about the enormity of the challenges but offers ways forward and highlights principles with which to align other work, proposing workable policies to inspire activists, academics and the Greater Manchester policy community as a whole. This anchoring of action at the Greater Manchester (‘bioregional’) level helps distract from paralysing gloom and creates a sense of potential to participate in the work of radical re-prioritisation.

Although they don’t flinch from hard truths, Steady State Manchester encourage us to think that we all can contribute to building resilience and helping prefigure the kind of change that’s needed at pace and at scale.

Hannah Berry, Greater Manchester Housing Action.

Steady State Manchester provide a welcome challenge to the continued drive for economic growth in the city.  Better still, they hold an important space for the people of the city to deliberate and to design a viable alternative; an economy that works for people, place and planet, not just the pockets of a few.  It is great to see the evolution of their collective thinking pulled together in one book.  I urge you to read, pull apart, scribble on as you wish.  Most importantly I urge you to join in the conversation, to help reimagine and to dig in as stewards of Manchester and earthlings of this planet, we are lucky to call home.

Eve Holt, Councillor, Manchester City Council; Director Happen Together CIC and Manchester resident.

This book is testament to the enduring influence, relevance and persistence of the ideas and energies of Steady State Manchester. ”A Viable Future” is grounded in experience and practical knowledge within a clear intellectual framework that pushes forward understanding and action about the options and limits for post-growth. Greater Manchester provides the bedrock for testing and exploring far-reaching propositions that extend across economy, welfare, environment, planning and politics. A must-read for anyone committed to researching and enacting systemic transformations.

Professor Beth Perry, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

An eye-opener that shows how the privatization of gains and socialization of pains – both social and environmental costs, can be reimagined, deliberated democratically and reversed! The most appealing aspect of this book is its engagement at the meso level. This is a book from the optimal ‘halfway down the stairs’ position, contrasting with the fool’s paradise of continuous economic growth, a bridge book that lays down the choices involved in our transitions to a sustainable and fair world. The bioregional conceptualization brings pragmatic social and economic opportunities and highlights the philosophical implications for science and policy, where the stocks, funds and flows of matter and energy as well as the information about multiple biophysical, social and economic interactions and exchanges are made visible, happy and fair.

Dr. Rajeswari S. Raina, Professor: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University, Uttar Pradesh, India. Co-editor, Post-growth thinking in India (2018).

In this book Steady State Manchester powerfully shows that to bring about a Viable Future, it is crucial to think and act both locally and globally. Place, they argue, is fundamental for imagining alternatives, whilst inseparable from worldwide efforts to tackle crises of planetary scale. Taking the reader through local struggles and activism in Greater Manchester, politics and policy proposals in the region, the UK and beyond, this book debunks false solutions and inspires thinking.

Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Lund University, co-editor of Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth and member of the editorial collective of ephemera journal.

Posted in analysis, news | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Consultation Response: Places for Everyone

Here is Steady State Manchester’s response to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s strategic spatial plan: Places for Everyone, formerly the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

We have assessed the plan on the basis of its soundness (for the criteria set out in National Planning Guidance, see the previous post) and concluded that it does not meet those tests.  Our submission focusses on the Integrated Assessment (including the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Health Impact Assessment), carbon consequences of the proposed building boom, growth assumptions and specific comments on Industry (Port Salford, Manchester Airport, Offices and the Rural Economy), and Housing Need.

We identify faulty assumptions and reasoning and subject the evidence submitted for the above areas to scrutiny.

Other citizens and groups are encouraged to endorse our points but please do add further points of your own.

We do believe that a a strategic plan is necessary for our region to provide a vision to guide policy and development and to protect our spaces against speculative development by powerful developer companies and interests.  Without an adequate set of Local Plans (Places for Everyone covers the strategic, cross council elements of this), developers have a free hand since the planning system and its appeals default to their proposals in the absence of a clear local policy framework.  We also believe it is essential to improve the region’s housing stock, by deep retrofit and by judicious construction of new homes.  However, Places for Everyone proposes to grossly over-supply housing that will not necessarily meet the needs of the most deprived sectors.  Our submission, like that of other groups, demonstrates that it is not necessary to build on the green belt to meet the likely housing need.

Posted in Greater Manchester City Region, news, Planning | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

And then there were 9: Places for Everyone comments

And then there were 9: Places for Everyone – the new GM Spatial Framework.

Post updated 20 and 25 Sept, 2021 (minor updates and correction to carbon figures).

Background

The final version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is now out for consultation.  Following the withdrawal of Stockport council, it is now a joint plan of the remaining 9 Greater Manchester councils, called Places for Everyone (known as P4E) – link to the plan here.
It is hardly changed from the 2020 draft, which itself was not so very different from the previous plan.  This time, the plan is at “Publication Stage” and the consultation is formal and limited to what is prescribed by national planning legislation and guidance.  This is how GMCA explains it:

“The final stage of consultation will run from August 9, 2021 for 8 weeks, ending on October 3, 2021. However, the plan and evidence base has been available on these pages to view since July 12, 2021, this has meant that people have had time to view and familiarise themselves with the content before submitting responses. [SSM comment – in theory: the plan itself runs to 465 pages and there is a library of supporting documents, some of them also very long, where critical detail can be found. For citizens and community groups who wish to comment this is hugely time-consuming.]
“We are now at the ‘Publication Stage’ of this plan. It is the final stage of consultation before the plan goes to the Secretary of State who will then appoint an independent inspector or inspectors to examine the plan.
“The Publication Plan is the plan that the nine local authorities consider to be the plan they intend to submit to the Secretary of State for examination. This is a formal stage of consultation and at this stage of consultation we are asking you whether you think the Places for Everyone plan meets the ‘tests of soundness’.
“The term ‘sound’ is used to describe a Local Plan that has been prepared in accordance with what Government expects of local planning authorities.”

Those tests of soundness are that the plan has been

a) Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;

b) Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;

c) Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and

d) Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework and other statements of national planning policy, where relevant.
Source:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1005759/NPPF_July_2021.pdf page 12

However, that leaves plenty of scope for comments.  It is important that in commenting, the guidelines from GMCA are followed – click here to see these consultation arrangements.

The deadline for consultation responses is October 3, 2021.

SSM are putting together our submission which we’ll make available as soon as it is in reasonable shape.  We are concentrating on the consequences for carbon emissions (subject of a Freedom of Information request and our independent calculations) and nature,  the assumptions about economic and household growth, the adequacy of the Integrated Assessment, and the characteristics of the city region that will emerge from these plans.
Our preliminary comments follow.

Loss of Green Space

It is important to be clear about the amount of green space to be lost according to the plan. This information is not presented transparently in the P4E report which presents a figure for net green belt loss. This figure is the total green belt loss minus the re-designations of currently unprotected green space as green belt. While the improved protection for those spaces is welcome, the net figure is misleading since it reduces the total by those spaces that are already green space. So the gross green belt loss is the relevant figure. This is either 2336.9 hectares (the sum of the green belt “allocations”, i.e. withdrawals from the allocations spreadsheet in the supporting documents) or 2429.4 hectares (the sum of the net green belt loss and the green belt additions, from the main P4E paper).

This is not the whole picture, however. P4E identifies non green belt earmarked for building under three categories, housing, industry and warehouses, and offices. The main Places for Everyone report and the supplementary papers give most of the relevant figures, although it takes an effort to put them together, given that they are scattered across several documents. Most of the sites are identified in terms of area, either hectares or square metres, and the former unit is used below. However, non-green belt housing sites did not have areas identified: instead it was the number of housing units. Therefore a series of Freedom of Information Act requests were made to GMCA and the 10 councils for the relevant information in December 20201. Note that the plan at that time included Stockport which has since withdrawn. Figures below have been amended to reflect that. Bury council stated that they did not have the information. We asked for an internal review since this was considered implausible but have had no response other than an acknowledgement in early 2021. Therefore Bury’s area of non-green belt housing sites has been estimated from their figure for housing units, using the mean density of the two peripheral neighbouring councils, Bolton and Rochdale (considered more similar to Bury than Manchester and Salford).

Non-green belt sites are classified as greenfield, brownfield, or mixed. I have not included brownfields and mixed sites. The brownfields classification probably includes some sites that were formerly industrial but then returned to nature but there is no way to quantify that proportion. Moreover, if greenfields are to be protected and some development is to take place, then it will be necessary to prioritise brownfields. The resultant figures are as follows:

Category

hectares

sq miles

Net Green Belt release

1,754

6.8

Green Belt additions

675

2.6

Gross Green Belt loss2

2,337

9.0

(Gross Green Belt loss3

2,429

)

Greenfield non GB sites for housing

1,089.7

4.2

Greenfield non GB sites for industry & warehouses

60.6

0.2

Greenfield non GB sites for offices

24.4

0.1

Total non GB Green Space loss

1,174.8

4.5

Total Green land loss Ha

3,511.7

13.6

sq root (side of equivalent square for visualisation purposes

3.68

miles

5.89

km

To visualise the area of land that would be lost, the equivalent area can be superimposed on a map showing the boroughs of Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

map showing area of green space loss

That is useful background and we’ll come back to the area figures when we look at the consequences for the carbon emissions. However, since the consultation response will need to focus on the soundness of the plan, it is important to review the Integrated Assessment on which the plan rests.

Comments on the Integrated Assessment for Places for Everyone.

The Integrated Assessment (IA) underpins the Places for Everyone Plan (P4E). It includes the Sustainability Appraisal, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Equality Impact Assessment and Health Impact Assessment.  The Integrated Assessment of 2020 was updated with a scoping paper for 2021.  It seems that there are no major changes.

Following the IA Scoping Report baseline evidence update in 2020, no
changes to the IA objectives or criteria are recommended. It is noted that
the declaration of climate emergencies by GMCA and the 10 local
authorities, is the most significant shift since the previous update to the
Scoping Report. The IA objectives and criteria particularly related to
climate emergency have been carefully considered to establish whether
there has been a material change requiring an amendment. As a result of
the update, it is concluded that no additions or changes are required at this
stage, but any emerging evidence will be considered as part of the
updated IA assessment.
Scoping Report, page 15.

We make the following comments on flaws that we have identified in the IA.

The IA assesses a number of desirable outcomes (IA objectives) against the P4E Objectives. Table 10: IA Compatibility Analysis of the 2020 draft GMSF objectives is reproduced here with labels for objectives (abbreviated where necessary)

GMSF Objective

IA Objective

Meet our housing need.

Neighbourhoods of choice

Thriving and productive economy

Maximise potential of assets

Reduce inequalities / improve prosperity

Promote sustainable movement.

Resilient and carbon neutral city-region

Natural env. / green spaces

Ensure access phys & soc infrastructure

Promote community health and wellbeing

1 Housing

++

++

O

+

+

?

?

+

+

+

2 Employment

O

?

++

++

+

?

O

O

+

O

3 Transport and Utilities

O

+

O

+

+

++

+

?

+

O

4 Deprivation

+

O

+

?

++

?

O

O

+

+

5 Equality

+

+

+

O

++

?

?

+

+

+

6 Health

?

+

O

O

+

?

+

+

+

++

7 Social Infrastructure

?

?

O

?

O

O

O

+

++

+

8 Education and Skills

O

O

?

?

+

O

O

O

+

O

9 Sustainable Transport

O

++

O

+

+

++

+

?

+

+

10 Air Quality

?

+

O

O

O

+

+

?

?

+

11 Biodiversity/ Geodiversity

O

?

O

O

O

O

O

++

O

O

12 Climate Resilience

O

?

O

?

O

O

+

++

O

O

13 Flood Risk

O

+

O

O

O

O

O

++

O

O

14 Water Resources

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

?

O

15 Greenhouse Gases

?

+

O

?

O

+

++

?

?

O

16 Landscape and Heritage

O

+

O

+

O

O

O

++

O

O

17 Land Resources

?

+

?

O

?

O

O

+

O

O

18 Resource Consumption

O

O

O

O

O

O

+

O

O

O

We consider that ratings of P4E Objectives against the IA Objectives are inappropriate. The lack of any negative ratings in the summary table (i.e. that there is some incompatibility between P4E and IA objectives) suggests a bias towards optimism or even the suppression of inconvenient evidence. This point can be made with respect to many of the objectives but the following two will be used illustratively.

1, Biodiversity / Geodiversity Full definition (our emphasis): “Conserve and enhance biodiversity, green infrastructure and geodiversity assets.”

Criteria:

    1. Provide opportunities to enhance new and existing wildlife and geological sites?

    2. Avoid damage to, or destruction of, designated wildlife sites, habitats and species and protected and unique geological features?

    3. Support and enhance existing multifunctional green infrastructure and / or contribute towards the creation of new multifunctional green infrastructure?

    4. Ensure access to green infrastructure providing opportunities for recreation, amenity and tranquillity?”

P4E objectives 1, 3 and 5 (housing, thriving economy, increased prosperity), as the plan proposes to meet them, are relevant to this objective in that the projected loss of green space proposed in the plan (3,511.7 hectares or 13.6 sq miles, for all green space and 2,336.9 ha or 9.0 sq miles for green belt allocations, is potentially highly incompatible with this IA objective.

Likewise, P4E objective 4, (maximise use of assets) is likely to be relevant in that it entails impacts on natural assets and wildlife.

15, Greenhouse Gases Full definition: “Increase energy efficiency, encourage low-carbon generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Criteria:

    1. Encourage reduction in energy use and increased energy efficiency?

    2. Encourage the development of low carbon and renewable energy facilities, including as part of conventional developments?

    3. Promote a proactive reduction in direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions emitted across GM?”

P4E objectives 3 and 5 (thriving economy and increased prosperity), as the plan proposes to meet them, are relevant to this objective in that the projected levels of economic growth, with the consequent material and energy usage (in construction, embodied and operational), together with loss of green spaces are potentially highly incompatible with this IA objective.

Likewise, P4E objectives 1 and 4, (Housing and “maximise use of assets, insofar as the latter entails airport expansion) are clearly relevant and again potentially threaten the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (and staying within Greater Manchester’s Carbon Budget).

With regard to the inadequate assessment of impacts on these environmental processes and resources, it is worth noting the government regulations on strategic environmental assessment (which form part of the integrated assessment). The assessment needs to assess the following.

f) The likely significant effects on the environment, including on issues such as biodiversity, population, human health, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, cultural heritage including architectural and archaeological heritage, landscapes and the interrelationship between the above factors. These effects should include secondary, cumulative, synergistic, short, medium and long-term permanent and temporary, positive and negative effects4.

We submit that the Integrated Assessment fails in meeting this requirement, since it does not take into account the systemic interrelations among these factors, including the cumulative impacts. Instead, a simplistic checklist approach has been taken, which is insufficient for proper understanding of impacts and how they combine.

We propose that the relevant (Strategic Environmental Assessment) sections of the Integrated Assessment be conducted again, to the required standard (or above).

The Health component of the IA is supposed to take a number of determinants of health into account. In particular we highlight “Climate change, Biodiversity, Natural Environment: Natural habitat; Air; Water; land”. These are listed but again the P4E objectives that are identified as covering them (10, 11, 12, 14) are limited to those that deal with these elements directly. However, as indicated above, P4E objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 will all impact on these determinants of health. The Department of Health HIA screening questions, quoted on page 17 (logical page number 23) of the IA report are (we have numbered them),

  1. Will the proposal have a direct impact on health, mental health and wellbeing?

  2. Will the policy have an impact on social, economic and environmental living conditions that would indirectly affect health?

  3. Will the proposal affect an individual’s ability to improve their own health and wellbeing?

  4. Will there be a change in demand for, or access to, health and social care services?

  5. Will the proposal have an impact on global health?

We submit that the proposals in the plan under objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 will either directly or indirectly have impacts under all the above questions. This is because reducing access to green space, reducing the carbon sequestration resource and natural capital resource, and emitting significant constructional and operational emissions, will affect people’s opportunities for recreation and connection with the natural world, will reduce the scope for mitigating both greenhouse gas emissions and their impact, for populations locally and globally, and will with some likelihood indirectly lead to an increase in demand for health and social care services.

We therefore submit that the Health Impact Assessment component of the IA has not been carried out adequately.

We recommend that it be carried out again, to at least an adequate standard, utilising expert advice from the experts on the relationships between public health, the natural environment and climate change.

Carbon

This section expands on the comment on the Integrated Assessment, that the carbon consequences of the plan have not been properly assessed. If we are to evaluate a spatial plan then we need to understand the likely carbon impacts of development on what are now green spaces.

Freedom of information request and GMCA’s refusal.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was made as follows on 17 August, 2021.5

1) Assessments and/or calculations of the projected carbon emission impacts of the Places for Everyone 2021 plan. This should cover,
a) Gains and losses of carbon sequestration due to proposed land use changes in the plan.
b) Embodied carbon estimates due to the proposed building programme in the plan.
c) Carbon impact of projected aggregate GVA growth that the plan assumes.
d) Carbon emission estimates from changes to journeys made by GM’s population and to transport infrastructure.
e) Carbon emissions estimated due to the proposed near doubling of flights from Manchester Airport.
2) Estimates made of the carbon emissions consequences (as defined in a, b and d above) for each of the 38 Green Belt Allocations identified in Places for Everyone.
3) In the event of the above information not existing, please supply details (including minutes, correspondence, reports) of the process by which it was decided not to make these assessments and how these relate to both the GM and UK government Climate Budgets.

GMCA responded to our request on 14 September with a refusal. They say that the information requested is in the P4E main document and supporting documents, referring us to several documents. Having checked those documents we can confirm that the information requested is not there. Most significantly, there are no calculations of the carbon consequences of the developments proposed and the green space lost.

Accordingly, we have made our own calculations to arrive at estimates of the likely scale of the carbon emission consequences.

Carbon metrics

The areas for consideration in understanding the carbon consequences of development break down into the following components.

1) The changes to carbon fluxes (that is carbon emissions versus capture, or sequestration) from the land.

2) The carbon emissions from the new development, a) the emissions from constructing the new development: average figures are around 0.34, 0.50, 0.67, 1.18 tonnes for 1, 2, 3, and 4 or more bed housing6, and b) ongoing emissions from the buildings, roads, etc.: this would seem to be in the region of 0.53 ktonnes p.a. for the year 2017-87, c) the loss of locked up carbon in the soil and the biomass.

3) Carbon consequences of new economic activity as a result of the development. These are the knock-on, or multiplier effects of the development i.e. the carbon impacts of economic growth, not including the above two elements.

These notes deal with the first of these components, showing how estimates can be arrived at for the proposals to build on green spaces in Places for Everyone, the 2021 version of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) strategic and spatial plan. The estimates that we have arrived at are provisional. There are a number of uncertainties and it was not possible to make a detailed assessment for each green space since we do not know the ecological breakdowns and as a small NGO we do not have the capacity to do such detailed work. However, our work can be treated as a “proof of concept”, that it is possible to make ballpark estimates of changes to carbon sequestration and emissions resulting from urbanisation, and moreover we note that any attempt to do this appears to be missing from the inadequate Integrated Assessment. The calculations that follow make use of the figures cited above on the loss of green space entailed by P4E.

Finding the relevant carbon flux figures.

The next step was to find figures for average emissions or capture from representative land types. There are a lot of uncertainties here. Reviews by Isabel Alonso and colleagues at Natural England do provide some estimates8. The review first appeared in 2012 and was updated this year. Not all the estimates from the early report appeared in the second report. I have used the later estimates where they are available.

The figures from the above reports are for annual carbon fluxes. However, what about the missed opportunity to improve carbon sequestration by the green land lost to development? To estimate this we used a figure quoted (but without a primary reference source) by the website Farm Carbon Toolkit9.

Work completed by the FCT has demonstrated that every hectare of land that raises its soil organic matter levels by just 0.1% (e.g. 4.2% to 4.3%) can sequester approximately 8.9 tonnes of CO2 per year at 1.4 g/cm3 bulk density). This is an extraordinary figure; in practice that is not only possible but being exceeded by farmers and growers building healthy soils.”10

Since not all the Greater Manchester green space would be suitable for such improvement, applying the above 8.9 tonnes figure to just 30% of the land would seem a reasonable procedure.

Applying emissions/sequestration rates (flux) to the green spaces to be developed under Places for Everyone.

Table 2 of the Greater Manchester Natural Capital investment Plan Baseline Review11 gives areas for Greater Manchester’s Green Spaces as follows.

Greater Manchester’s Natural Capital assets (Broad UK habitats)

Area (ha)

Arable

9,264

Broadleaf woodland

11,118

Built-up areas and gardens

58,537

Coniferous Woodland

190

Freshwater

1,450

Improved grassland

29,871

Mountain, heath, bog

8,423 ( > 4,000 ha of which bog)

Semi-natural grassland

8,761

Total

127,613

The flux figures from the Natural England reports were then applied to these categories, where relevant. Built up areas and gardens and freshwater were excluded. As we do not have a category breakdown for the sites12, the flux figures were applied first to the areas in the above table and then a simple ratio applied for the area of the green space to be lost. This will not be accurate, for example, there will be little development in the mountain heathland area but proportionately more in the grassland areas) but should serve to provide an order of magnitude estimate. The result is in the following table.

Natural Capital assets in GM (Broad UK habitats)

Area (ha)

Estimated kg sequestered annually

Notes

Arable

9,264

-2,686,560

Broadleaf woodland

11,118

119,518,500

This is average for woodland 30 and 100 years old (combined range 2-25.5 tonnes)

Built-up areas and gardens

58,537

not included as not subject to change

Coniferous Woodland

190

4,180

not given in 2021 report: used 2021 figure

Freshwater

1,450

Have taken average for lakes and ponds: carbon burial rate.

Improved grassland

29,871

10,754

Mountain, heath, bog 13

8,423 ( > 4,000 ha of which bog)

-1,684,600

Note that peatland is a large carbon store, but currently emitting CO2e. Not possible to give an overall figure due to diversity of peatlands nationally and in GM. Note, however, that Restoring Bogland from Drained to a Near Natural state Saves 3.46 tonnes / ha / yr

Semi-natural grassland

8761

0

Negligible carbon flux as in approximate equilibrium

Total

127613

115,162,274

Applied to the Places for Everyone Area

3511.7

3,169,076

3,092.3 ktonnes per annum

Applied to the Green Belt allocations only

2336.9

2,108,897

That is 25.35 ktonnes over the 16 year plan period) assuming that development proceeds at an even pace (16/2 x the annual figure).

This estimate makes no allowance for the opportunity cost of not making improvements to carbon sequestration in lost areas, e.g. by tree planting, wetland restoration, or improved agricultural practices. If 30% of this land raised its soil carbon content by 0.01% per year of the 16 years of the strategic period, then,
Additional sequestration per ha per year = 0.0089 ktonnes.
Additional sequestration for 30% green space loss per year = 9.4 ktonnes.
Additional sequestration foregone over the plan period = 150 ktonnes

Total estimated carbon sequestration cost of Places for Everyone = 175.37 ktonnes.

There would also be a further direct carbon loss due to development from released soil carbon and growing biomass. Using a total figure from Gregg et al. For the UK as a whole, I estimate that this would add a further 0.534 tonnes of emitted carbon per hectare, or 1.83 ktonnes for all the green space. This is small in comparison to the sequestration losses.

Furthermore there would be embodied carbon emissions from all the new build. From the housing alone we calculate that this could be in the region of 83 ktonnes.

What is concerning is that no attempt appears to have been made to assess this in the IA.

We acknowledge that a fair comparator for P4E is not zero development. It is up to the GMCA to suggest what a plausible null case for comparison would be. It is salient to point out that should the Green Belt allocations not be utilised,  some 65% of this lost sequestration could be avoided.

As Paragraph 1a of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 makes clear,

Development plan documents must (taken as a whole) include policies designed to secure that the development and use of land in the local planning authority’s area contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.”14

We submit that P4E falls far short of this requirement.

We propose that the plan be rewritten to a) estimate its carbon consequences and b) to build in proportionate and adequate mitigation and preventative measures, together with proposals for radically increasing the carbon sequestration from the City Region’s green spaces.

Growth assumptions

P4E makes very high assumptions about the overall growth of the Greater Manchester Economy.

This plan supports high levels of economic growth across Greater Manchester and seeks to put in place the measures that will enable such growth to continue in the even longer-term.

However, delivering these high levels of growth will become increasingly challenging. Beyond the slowdown in productivity growth seen across the UK economy, and increasing international competition for trade and capital, Greater Manchester also faces the challenges of accommodating rapid technological change, and political risks and economic shocks such as Brexit and Covid-19. Greater Manchester will therefore need to continue to invest in the sites that will make it an even more attractive place for businesses to invest, bringing high-value, well paid jobs, to the city region, and supporting the continued progress towards a low-carbon economy15.

GMSF Growth Option 2: “Meeting assessed needs” was the preferred one which informed the two previous versions of GMSF. However, “the assumed path of GVA for GM under the Accelerated Growth Scenario (AGS-2019) used to inform the GMSF Growth Option 2: “Meeting assessed needs” was, over this period around 2.4% pa.”16 i.e., despite the GMCA choosing option 2, it used option 3 (Accelerated growth) to inform it.

The Nicol report, commissioned by GMCA, suggests:-

1) Likely 2-3%17 smaller UK economy as a result of EU exit and Covid19. This works out at about -0.1% to -0.2% p.a. (note that this is cumulative). The AGS scenario had a “deliberately ambitious” 2.4% pa. There is evidence that GM is slightly worse affected than the UK economy as a whole.

2) Increased need for warehousing and logistics as a result of a 5% (residual) shift to internet shopping and need for higher stock inventories due to EU exit. However, SSM argue that the total volume of sales is not likely to be higher, and given economic scarring could be lower. The increase in Internet retail will be subject to a ceiling (it cannot increase for ever). Moreover, the biggest increase is likely to have happened already: this appears to have been absorbed by current infrastructure. (the Savills report cited by Nicol consulting) indicates that there is still a 5% level of spare capacity). “The effect of Covid-19 and the lockdowns has been to “supercharge” what was already an established trend”. So it seems unlikely that this will in the medium to longer term alter the level of requirement for this kind of industrial space.

3) There are some indications that demand for office space will decrease as a longer-term impact of working from home arrangements. Firms and other organisations have discovered that they can reduce accommodation costs by maintaining in part these arrangements.

4) There is uncertainty about the future pattern of housing need as a result of Covid-19 and EU exit. Household formation rates could reduce in the near term but affordability could increase due to reduced competition.

As of March 2021, our conclusion remains broadly similar to that set out in August 2020. This was that given the significant degree of uncertainty that exists about future events and their implications for GM, there is not sufficient certainty/evidence currently available to inform a robust “reasonable alternative” growth option for purposes of the PfE 2021 Plan.”18

However, SSM argue that there is certainly no cause to argue for greater levels of growth. The consensus view of the UK’s annual growth rate in 2024 (after the misleading annual gains in earlier years, which are an artefact of recovery from the very depressed levels during the Covid lockdowns) is that growth will be well below 2%19. The annual rate for the North West in that year could be 0.2% below the UK rate20. The question is what will be the reduction on the forecasts and scenarios that informed GMSF and continue to inform P4E?

It is worth noting that in the last 13 years there have been three major economic disruptions. The Great Financial Crash, the Global Covid pandemic, and Brexit. It seems, a priori, unlikely that there will not be further major economic shocks21 over the 17 years of the P4E plan. Therefore the economic scenarios used in P4E would likely be over-”optimistic”.

We submit that the plan has consistently over-estimated future growth rates. It has failed to make sufficient adjustment for the reduced GVA growth rate following recent and future systemic shocks.

We propose that the plan be amended to reduce the growth assumptions to no more than 1.5% p.a. overall. This should be supplemented by an assessment of the impact of moving to a steady state economy, the adoption of which is indicated by the climate crisis22.

Housing

Population

Population increase, 2021-2037 for the nine districts is now projected to be:

2021 (ONS mid year estimate): 2,554,000

2037 (P4E): 2,712,194

Change: 158,194 (6.19%)

Interestingly, the equivalent figures for the GM Area, i.e. including Stockport are
2021: 2,848,286

2037: 3,038,286

Change: 190,000 (6.67%)

In other words, taking Stockport out has decreased the projected population growth rate significantly: Stockport will now have to accommodate that change within its own boundaries, reducing pressure on the other districts, principally Manchester and Salford.

Households and housing

P4E projects building 164,880 homes over the 16 year period 2021-2037. That is 10,305 per year. Note that this figure is the result of using the standard government Housing Need Methodology.

This gives a ratio of 1.04 people per home. That’s an extraordinary ratio, although it assumes that the inhabitants of the new homes are those counted in the population growth figures. Instead, we should take account of the rehousing of people presently in the population and also assume that some of the population growth would be accommodated in the existing housing stock. To estimate that we can compare the two overall ratios of people per homes at the start and end of the plan.

2021: People: 2,554,000 Homes: 1,064,167 Occupancy: 2.4

2027: People: 2,712,194 Homes: 1,229,047 Occupancy: 2.21

But we should assume that some of the population growth would be assimilated by the existing housing stock.

If we did take the new average occupancy figure of 2.21, then the new population could be accommodated by 71,687 homes. Even if we took a mid point figure, between 2.21, the projected overall occupancy level (from P4E figures) and the apparent occupancy P4E assumes for new stock, 1.04, i.e. 1.625, then there would be a need for 97,350 new homes.

Yet the housing land supply in P4E is estimated at 170,385 before Green Belt allocations. That gives an excess of 73,035 housing units. Indeed, the sites identified as brownfield alone provide for an estimated 135,140 homes. Indeed, as Friends of Carrington Moss have noted,

even without the (20,000) green belt allocations, there is more than sufficient land supply (170,000) for every single expected additional member of our population (the increase of 158,200) to have their own home!”23

Even if some of those sites turned out to be unfeasible, it seems unlikely that the additional population couldn’t be accommodated there, particularly as some of the increasing densification of housing (e.g. building several houses on an existing housing plot, or extending existing houses to accommodate additional family members, or to add flats) is not accounted for in the P4E projections.  Nor, apparently has an estimate been made of the impact of the  conversion of office accommodation to residential use.  While in some cases this has been undesirable, given the poor resulting quality, that need not be so.

We consider this grounds for GMCA to argue that it should not follow the standard Housing Need Methodology but instead apply one of its own, more appropriate to the characteristics of the GM population.

P4E identifies one location as a potential Green Belt withdrawal, the High Crompton Broad Location in Oldham [our earlier version mis-identified this as in Rochdale]. That land is not to be considered as a Green Belt allocation at this stage, awaiting demonstration that it is required. The same arrangement could be applied to most, if not all the allocations, rather than at this premature stage, assigning all of them.

We submit that the housing need projections are manifestly implausible. We acknowledge that this is a result of using the government’s recommended methodology. However, when it was seen how absurd the figures were, GMCA should have made the case that an alternative method should be used (indeed they did do something like this in the earlier stages of the GMSF process).

We propose a recalculation of housing need based on plausible occupancy and population growth figures. However, there could be an uplift for the accommodation of climate refugees24 (internal and international) over the plan period.

We also propose that any Green Belt allocations be given the same status as the High Crompton location.  That will reduce the likelihood of developers opting for a greenfields first strategy and also reduce the risk of speculation and land banking.

2from allocations spreadsheet (supporting document): this figure used in calculations

3from additions plus net release (main paper)

6Floor space https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/725085/Floor_Space_in_English_Homes_main_report.pdf
Embodied emissions https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261919317945 Note: the figures for embodied emissions are based on international data, post pre 2005 for Europe and pre 2007 for USA (after which higher standards were introduced) so the estimates will be somewhat high. It is likely that embodied per m2 emissions will decrease over the plan period.

7Our calculations using figure from Clilverd, H, et al. ‘Mapping Carbon Emissions & Removals for the Land Use, Land-Use Change & Forestry Sector: Report Based on the 1990-2018 Inventory.’ Penicuik, Midlothian: UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology for BEIS, May 2020 , Table 1 (UK as a whole, proportionately reduced for the calculation for England’s proportionate area). Clilverd cites for UK as a whole, emissions from conversion of land to settlements: 6,061.81 soil carbon + 425.30 deforestation loss and 67.75 non-forest biomass. Calculation also used UK government Land Use Statistics England 2018 and 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2017-to-2018

8Alonso, I., K. Weston, R. Gregg, and M. Morecroft. ‘Carbon Storage by Habitat: Review of the Evidence of the Impacts of Management Decisions and Condition of Carbon Stores and Sources’. Natural England Research Report. Natural England, 29 May 2012. http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/1438141
Gregg, R., J.L. Elias, I. Alonso, I.E. Crosher, P. Muto, and M.D. Morecroft. ‘Carbon Storage and Sequestration by Habitat: A Review of the Evidence’. Natural England Research Report NERR094. Second. Natural England, York, 2021. https://tinyurl.com/4etay7f5

11GMCA. ‘Natural Capital Investment Plan Baseline Review’. GMCA, December 2018. https://naturegreatermanchester.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/GM-NCIP-Baseline-review-261018-Final.pdf

12These could be laboriously derived in outline for the Green Belt sites by interrogating the site allocation papers but would not be available for the other green space.

13Note that at present peatland is a net emitter of carbon. However, measures to restore it would radically reduce, and even reverse those emissions. Furthermore, peatland is a carbon store, the disturbance of which (e.g. by building on sites such as Carrington Moss) will release soil carbon.

15Employment topic paper, paras 8.7, 8.8.

17OBR: 3%, BoE 2%

18Covid-19, EU-Exit and the Greater Manchester Economy – Implications for the Greater Manchester Places for Everyone Plan. Nicol Economics, March 2021 Paragraph 1.89, page 32. https://greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/GMCAFiles/PFE/Supporting%20documents/05%20Places%20for%20Jobs/05.01.03%20COVID-19%20and%20PfE%20Growth%20Options.pdf

21Due to cyclical crisis tendencies of the global economic system, future pandemics, climate change, wars and conflict, resource supply shocks, major pollution incidents and “unknown unknowns”.

22Hickel, Jason, Paul Brockway, Giorgos Kallis, Lorenz Keyßer, Manfred Lenzen, Aljoša Slameršak, Julia Steinberger, and Diana Ürge-Vorsatz. ‘Urgent Need for Post-Growth Climate Mitigation Scenarios’. Nature Energy, 4 August 2021. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-021-00884-9.
Keyßer, Lorenz T., and Manfred Lenzen. ‘1.5 °C Degrowth Scenarios Suggest the Need for New Mitigation Pathways’. Nature Communications 12, no. 1 (December 2021): 2676. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22884-9.
Nieto, Jaime, Óscar Carpintero, Luis J. Miguel, and Ignacio de Blas. ‘Macroeconomic Modelling under Energy Constraints: Global Low Carbon Transition Scenarios’. Energy Policy 137 (1 February 2020): 111090. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.111090.
Bordera, F Valladares, A Turiel, F Puig Vilar, F Prieto, and T Hewlett. ‘Leaked Report of the IPCC Reveals That the Growth Model of Capitalism Is Unsustainable.’ Monthly Review, 23 August 2021. https://mronline.org/2021/08/23/leaked-report-of-the-ipcc-reveals-that-the-growth-model-of-capitalism-is-unsustainable/.

24The plan and associated documents appear to make no mention of this likely area of need.

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Organizing degrowth – A talk at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting

Steady State Manchester collective member James Scott Vandeventer was recently invited to speak on a panel at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting. The following piece is adapted from this talk, which was based on his paper ‘Organizing degrowth: The ontological politics of enacting degrowth in OMS’ (Available to download without paywall here) and contains several points that may be of interest to our readership.

In a recent paper written with Dr Javier Lloveras, we seek to understand how degrowth is crossing boundaries and being engaged with as an object of research in the study of organizations and management.

Drawing on Science and Technology Studies, we explore the research practices whereby scholars are using degrowth in their research. This required thinking about and discussing degrowth in relatively new ways. I use some of that discourse here, in hopes that it will help show how we might reflexively reconsider, and talk about, our own ways of engaging with degrowth.

Our findings identified at least three distinct ways in which degrowth, as a research object, is brought into being and sustained at present. These practices of enacting degrowth include: stabilizations that temporarily fix its meaning, reconfigurations toward different audiences, and projections that relationally link degrowth with established organizational concepts. In other words, degrowth is being stabilized as an object to which scholars can ascribe a fixed meaning; reconfigured in order to engage with particular groups (i.e. in specific disciplines or fields of research); and projected to make connections with other ideas. We offer multiple examples of these practices in the paper.

These findings have significant implications. One is that understanding degrowth as a flexible object means it is prone to different varieties. Ultimately, the longevity and validity of these versions depend on their uptake by others – whether in citations, paper downloads, conference presentations, and so on. This asks us to give due consideration to the performative effects of enacting degrowth and recognition of the ontological politics involved. To paraphrase Annemarie Mol, whose work we draw on extensively, ontological politics involves acknowledging that the conditions of possibility for degrowth are not given, but rather its possibilities are being made and remade in specific, contextual practices.

A second implication involves recognizing that degrowth’s malleability brings risks as its spread accelerates. In some cases, degrowth’s most radical edges are smoothed over to fit with existing knowledge. There is a strategic dilemma here: should ‘thinner’ versions of degrowth reach further into business contexts and research debates, or should degrowth’s critical potential be maintained? We don’t offer a priori answers, but encourage a more strategic approach to navigating this dilemma and ensuring degrowth remains politically actionable. This might involve slowing down degrowth, and being more reflexive about how we are using this object.

Finally, it is becoming clear that degrowth is being enrolled in the reproduction of academia, with perverse publishing dynamics and research productivity incentives that demand additional publications, citations, collaborations, research grants, and so on. Thus, degrowth’s future is tied to institutional pressures, such as the casualization and intensification of academic labour, and to existing institutional rules, whether ‘targeting’ highly ranked outlets or abiding the ‘publish or perish’ culture.

By recognizing these exploitative trends, which are characteristic of neoliberal capitalism, it is clear that organizing degrowth must be part of a broader call for political action to engage with, and transform, the sites where such organizing occurs, including business schools.

To conclude, we hope to have stimulated some thinking about how – and why – the degrowth object is circulating faster and further. Hopefully, this provides a language and, perhaps, a more reflexive gaze for examining the translation of degrowth and similar objects into new arenas, for discussing the contextual practices involved in performing degrowth, and for thinking about implications of these enactments.

While we showed how scholars make objects like degrowth more, or less, real through research, this is perhaps even more evident in teaching and our engagements with students. This question, how degrowth is being enacted in business school classrooms, is the focus of a project I am leading that is funded by the UK & Ireland Chapter of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education. In that project, I am looking at the ways that degrowth is transforming, and being transformed by, the content and pedagogies of business school teaching.

This continues my efforts to encourage more reflexive stances toward degrowth scholarship, teaching, and activism. But there is much more work to be done. I invite you to join me in regularly pausing to look inward at our own practices of enacting degrowth, and their consequences.

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