On 8 July 2019, Manchester City Council declared a Climate Emergency and as a result a new committee has been tasked with scrutinising  progress to the city’s carbon-zero 2038 target.  Here’s what I learnt from attending the first meeting.


1. The new Climate Emergency Scrutiny committee means business.

It seemed clear that this group of seven councillors, chaired by Annette Wright, (Hulme councilor and co-author of the Climate Emergency motion) – seem genuinely set on examining and overhauling everything the council does to bring it in line with the emergency declaration. ‘We want to understand where we are now, where we need to get to, what we need to do to get there, how we’re doing along the way,’ said Wright {paraphrased}.

2. The current Climate Action Plan is not fit for purpose

The meeting spent almost two hours forensically going through each of the 20 points in the existing Manchester Climate Action Plan, thus exposing its inadequacy.

Currently – it’s an eclectic mix of actions, some specific and with carbon reductions attached (‘LED street lights = 8,000+ tonnes of Co2 saved’), some huge and broad (‘meeting our 2050 carbon-zero target’) and some vague with no clear outputs attached (‘participate in the Core Cities Adaptation project’), some covered by multiple points and possible double counting (eg emissions from council buildings covered by four separate points).

Snapshot of the current Climate Action Report – which lists all 20 items on track

As Wright testily made the point again and again, the plan doesn’t contain a breakdown of segment targets, or how each of the 20 actions relate to the cuts we need to make – so there is no sense of where Manchester is on its journey to a carbon-zero future.

For instance – if transport accounts for 31% of Co2 in Manchester, what are the year by year reductions required, how will we make them, what progress are we making and who is accountable for reaching them?

It seemed surprising that after claiming to be a leader in this for so long (2009), this document is what underpins the city council’s climate action; let’s hope what comes next (to begin March 2020) is far better. 

3. There are no council employees working full-time exclusively on the climate emergency.


We have a ‘1 million trips a day’ challenge in Greater Manchester – which we can only solve if we stop driving short distances

In this in-depth post I set out compelling evidence why…

    • our climate and health crisis can only be solved with dramatic cuts to car use
    • leaving cars at home for short journeys is now critical, almost obligatory
    • we therefore need a massive programme of measures to disincentivise car use and induce behaviour change including


If Greater Manchester is to meet its environment, civic, and health commitments  – the city region’s transport challenge is very clear.

About one million MORE journeys EVERY day need to be made by foot, bike, bus, tram or train* by 2040, instead of by car.

The trouble is – no-one likes to talk about the last four words of that sentence. 

Our current strategies assume that this massive transformation of our daily habits will just ‘kinda happen’ as a result of new infrastructure, public transport investment and a bit of ‘awareness raising’. 

But a new report from the influential Transport Select Committee makes a clear set of recommendations that spell out this is a car-reduction challenge which must now be tackled head on.

Continue reading “We have a ‘1 million trips a day’ challenge in Greater Manchester – which we can only solve if we stop driving short distances”

Three Climate Emergencies Declared – yay! And then ignored. Oh…

Credit: Dilbert/Scott Adams

You know that uncomfortable, jarring feeling you get.

When your body experiences one thing, but your eyes see another?

It’s known in the psychologist trade as cognitive dissonance – when beliefs are contradicted by information.

When it happens our brains get very uncomfortable and have three options – change our beliefs (hard), change our actions (quite hard), change our perception of our actions (easiest).

Well this has been the experience of being on the environmental campaigning beat in Manchester this week.

Extreme cognitive dissonance – as the city revealed we’re way off our carbon targets, rose up to declare a climate emergency – and it all went completely ignored.

It could have been so different – a momentous, landmark, ground-breaking week.

It started with Monday’s revelation at the Manchester Climate Agency’s annual ‘conference’ that the city had only managed 2.5% of our pledged 13% year on year carbon reductions .

Continue reading “Three Climate Emergencies Declared – yay! And then ignored. Oh…”

What’s the block to creating the world you want? (clue: it’s not what you think)

When I saw this question promoting a talk from an experienced tutor at the well-regarded Northern School of Permaculture, I was intrigued.

What is the block indeed?? Great – here I will find the answer!

So when Angus Soutar asked this question of the 25 or so of us who gathered in the back room of the Briton’s Protection pub in Manchester, a very suitable venue with it’s connections to the Peterloo Massacre, I was ready with my replies..

‘Exploitative capitalist economics’, ‘inadequate government policies’, ‘fickle politicians’, ‘a broken voting system’…What should I pick first?

So I was very surprised when people volunteered very different answers to those on my mind…

Continue reading “What’s the block to creating the world you want? (clue: it’s not what you think)”

Why launch Bee The Change Blog?

Beethechangeblog came from my desire to do something positive in these challenging times – The Great Turning as it has been called.

And to document my own discoveries and difficulties as I and the rest of the world wrestle with the monumental challenge of de-carbonising ourselves and re-balancing our relationship with earth.

Firstly, for myself because the act of transforming thoughts to written words helps me make sense of what I’m experiencing.

Secondly in the belief that they might be useful to others.

Thirdly because it seems, just in these deeply troubling times when we most need an independent media, this part of this agenda isn’t being covered in the way it should be. Continue reading “Why launch Bee The Change Blog?”