Manchester Climate Strike 20th September 2019
On Friday 20th September 2019 young people and workers across the globe joined for a Global Climate Strike to demand action on climate change. A significant moment as it was very likely the biggest protest for action on climate change in history. According to 350.org about 4 million people took part.
In Manchester, thousands of climate protesters gathered in St. Peter’s Square to show solidarity in their discontent with the current action on climate change. The Global Climate Strike is part of a movement sparked by Greta Thunberg, with Friday chosen as the strike date to support the ongoing movement of Fridays For Future – ‘why study for a future, which may not be there?’.
An open mike took place on the stage in St. Peter’s square in Manchester city centre to allow school children and adults to voice their opinions of the current state of climate affairs. The prevailing theme is that that people are increasingly anxious and worried about the rapidly changing climate, but frustrated that this anxiety and worry is not reflected by those that have the power to act and bring about systemic change.
At one o’clock the protesters marched through the city, with chants being led by the school children all the way to Ancoats Central Retail Park:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
Manchester City Council have been criticised for wanting to turn this space into a car park instead of a green space, especially after only declaring a climate emergency in July 2019. People want actions to reflect this emergency, hence car parks vs. green spaces being marked out as the latest battleground between the climate campaigners and the Council. After a short sit-in of the proposed car park space the protesters marched back through the city to St. Peter’s Square.
Currently the UK government has committed to ‘net zero emissions’ by 2050. Talking to a few people at the strike there is great dissatisfaction with this figure. Many people mentioned the IPCC special report as an indicator that the science shows we are not doing enough. The special report examines the implications of a 2°C rise in average global temperature above pre-industrial levels, against a 1.5°C rise, it demonstrates the grave consequences and importance of half a degree.
Manchester, through the input of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership and Agency, is the first UK city to adopt a science-based carbon budget in line with the Paris Agreement. This equates to Manchester halving its emissions over the next 5 years and becoming zero carbon at the latest by 2038. Although the intention set by Manchester is more ambitious than the UK as a whole, Manchester is greatly exceeding its carbon budget, with a 5% estimated reduction in 2018-2019 (2019 Annual Review) when a 13% reduction was required to be in line with the Paris Agreement. Clearly more needs to happen if Manchester is to meet its targets.
What are the implications for Manchester meeting these targets? Individual action and system change are both required to limit global warming. The movement will not be over after these set of strikes but part of a growing resistance against the use of fossil fuels and the need to rapidly accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy.
Friday marked an important milestone, globally and locally, the key question now is what comes next? It is clear people in power are starting to listen. We now need to build on this and help Manchester politicians to make the right decisions with the confidence that the city’s residents and businesses are on board.
What commitments would you like to see them make next? And how can you help the city on its zero carbon journey? @McrClimate
Here is the official statement put out by the Manchester Climate Change Partnership on the Climate Strike.
There are more cliamte srikes to come. For details visit: https://globalclimatestrike.net/