Our city’s shared plan to tackle climate change

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Festival of Manchester - Survey

The Festival of Manchester took place for a second year running, it showcases the cultures and diversity that make Manchester such a great place to live. With over 100 community groups, and numerous events and stalls it was a jam-packed day. The Manchester Climate Change Agency set up our marquee by the lake in Platt Fields Park, ready to ask all the communities that were present about their experiences with climate change.

Three key questions were written on our three trees:

  1. What are you doing in response to climate change (have you taken any steps to reduce your carbon footprint)?
  2. How do you think climate change will affect you individually, and Manchester as a whole?
  3. What is preventing you from taking further action on climate change?

 

People wrote down all sorts for question one: switching to LEDs, changing to a more sustainable energy company, commuting by bike, eating less meat or being vegan was a really popular choice as well as supporting extinction rebellion. People had a good grasp of what they needed to do to reduce their individual carbon emissions – we have a list here at The Agency that you could use for reference: Actions to become a zero carbon city  

However, through many conversations, what became clear was that people were much less sure in their responses to questions two and three. Not having an answer for question two is somewhat strange. Why do people know how to reduce their carbon emissions but not know the reasons as to why these are important and necessary actions? Part of the problem is that the impacts of climate change are often put in terms of the Global South; food security, extreme weather events, global heating are often perceived as far off events that will not link through to the West. The few responses that were given touched on some big issues - but mostly things that were not tangible to Manchester, such as ‘global warming, bad for polar bears’.

From the answers on the leaves, there was a feeling that climate change remains a problem of the future, which will affect the global south and others around the world, but not us here in Manchester. Of course, this is false, one example springs to mind, a widespread impact will be the displacement of people – climate refugees is something that will affect everyone. Another response was - ‘Rainy festivals’ though I see this as the status quo for us here in Manchester.

The third question: ‘what is preventing you from taking further action on climate change?’ - produced the least answers. One response was indicative of the problem, ‘more information’. This could be due to the fact that there is an emphasis on the necessary lifestyle changes that are required by the public; the many responses to question one show this. But, there is little understanding of the bigger, structural changes that are required for Manchester and other cities to do their part on climate change. One response focused on the financing and potential subsidies of low carbon alternative transport. The more radical responses talks de-coupling of economic growth from environmental degradation, phrased as the ‘reluctance to let go of economic growth’. There is a conference in Manchester at the end of next year, which looks to understand what the world and individual’s livelihoods will look like if truly sustainable. To find out more, visit: http://www.confercare.manchester.ac.uk/events/degrowth2020/

The point to take away from question three, is that there needs to be a much bigger discussion and more realised plans made on how and what Manchester and cities across the world need to do to actually achieve climate change targets – big changes as well as the small ones. The UK government have been asked by activist groups such as extinction rebellion [include another example] to give a detailed plan of how exactly we are going to achieve the set targets. Further details are expected in the National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.

The Manchester Climate Change Agency is in the process of producing a Framework which looks to produce bespoke, individual and organisational: plans, tools, guidance in order to meet Manchester’s carbon budget. This discussion, planning and action towards structural change needs to happen now!

The Festival of Manchester was a really good event to continue the important climate change conversations with groups around the city. This engagement is very much needed to get to understand the big and small changes that are required for Manchester to play its part. 

 

We want to hear as many people's experiences with climate change, in as many communities across Manchester as possible, so as to gain an insight into how best The Manchester Climate Change Agency can first and foremost help your community, and then mitigate climate change. Fill out the survey here.