Response to Manchester City Council leader’s blog post: How Green is My City
(Submitted as a comment on Manchester City Council website and annotated here with links. Comments appear to be disabled on the Leader’s blog, although the comment form is still there. Until fixed that is a source of frustration to citizens who want to enter into dialogue.)
Manchester City Council declared a climate emergency earlier this year. I understand that there had been some resistance to this initially but in the end the back-bench motion, one of the most comprehensive, clear and action-focussed of its kind, was passed unanimously with Executive support. Although some steps have been taken to implement the motion, the appearance from outside the council is that this is going slowly and not very transparently, although the institution of an Overview and Scrutiny Climate Change Subgroup could help. It would be good to know just what the new (senior management level) Zero Carbon Coordination Group is proposing to do: so, for instance, regular public announcements and clarity re targets would be very welcome.
The leader [in his recent blog post] is obviously correct to say that the council is directly responsible for only a small part of emissions but it is disappointing to see a continuation of road widening schemes and the plan to create a car part on Great Ancoats Street [update: greed by a majority of councillors at the planning committee on Wednesday 16 Oct], a street that is to be renewed with no cycle provision.
Critically the council could do more as a shaper and influencer by adopting a total carbon approach: the recent C40 cities report on city consumption emissions gives a lot of clues for opportunities for reducing emissions radically. That means reducing the emissions that take place elsewhere but as a consequence of producing and distributing the things we use in the city.
Finally I must respond to the punch line about stationary cars not making emissions. Obviously this is true at trivial level but it ignores a) the embodied emissions in vehicle manufacture, b) the emissions caused when they are travelling to places such as … Great Ancoats Street, along roads such as Hyde Road and Princess Road, c) the continuing demand for private motor vehicles that is facilitated by provision of excessive levels of parking in the inner area. We could learn so much from other cities that restrict cars in the inner city via congestion charging and restriction of car-parking. It will take some time to reduce car use and yes parking will be needed still for those residual and necessary car journeys. However, that does not excuse plans to actually create parking spaces when as we all agree we are already in a climate (and air pollution) emergency.