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Local election candidates back tough action on climate change & air pollution

3rd May 2016
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Manchester Friends of the Earth today released the results of their survey of local election candidates views on some of the key environmental issues facing Greater Manchester and the UK. The survey highlighted that:

* Over 95% of all respondents would support Greater Manchester setting a more ambitious target to reduce its climate emissions by 80% by 2030.

* 85% of all respondents supporting calls for Low Emissions or Clean Air Zones in their town or district centres.

* there are high levels of opposition to fracking with over 93% of all respondents supporting calls for their local authority to to declare itself ‘frack-free’.

On Thursday 5th May, people across Greater Manchester have the opportunity to vote for the local councillors to represent them. The elected councillors will have to find and implement solutions to meet many social and environmental challenges during the next 10 years and beyond. These include rising transport & energy costs, traffic congestion, ill health and rising obesity levels, poor air quality and the need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.

Manchester Friends of the Earth asked all the Greater Manchester local council candidates to let people know their views on a range of key environmental issues. (1) The responses received from each candidate and a summary by political party are available online (2).

Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator said:

“We wouldn’t dream of telling people which way to vote but we think voters have the right to know where candidates stand on key environmental issues that will affect all our lives, such as climate change and air pollution.”

“As last year’s Supreme Court decision on air pollution and the historic Climate Change agreement signed in Paris last December show, we need urgent action from our newly elected politicians to slash greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our badly polluted air.” (3)

Local election survey results:

Climate and Energy questions

Climate target: 95% of all respondents supported a target for Greater Manchester to reduce its climate emissions by 80% by 2030.

Public energy company: 89% of all respondents supported Greater Manchester setting up a public energy company.

Retrofit scheme: Support for Greater Manchester funding a home retrofit scheme to achieve a minimum CO2 reduction of 60% was supported by 88% of all respondents.

GM Pension Fund: Overall support for the GM Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels was 85% of all respondents. .

Flooding: Overall, 97% of all respondents would ensure that new property developments in your local authority area have to include measures to deal with surface water flooding.

Frack Free: Over 93% of all respondents supporting calls for their local authority to to declare itself ‘frack-free’.

Air quality (4) and Transport questions

Clean Air Zone: Overall, 85% of all respondents would support introducing a Low Emission Zone or Clean Air Zone in their District / Town centre.

Buses: Overall, 93% of all respondents supported the replacement or retrofitting of buses with diesel engines below Euro 4 standards by 2020.

Car-Free Days: 75% of all respondents would promote a ‘Car Free Day’ in their District/Town centre.

Cycle Funding: Overall, 78% of respondents supported dedicated funding of £20 per head of population for cycle infrastructure in Greater Manchester. .

20mph speed limits: Overall, 87% of respondents supported the introduction of a default speed limit of 20mph in all residential areas for the benefit of people walking and cycling.

Nature and Food questions

Bees: Overall 98% of all respondents would call on their Council to protect bees from harmful pesticides on council land.

Sustainable Fish City: Overall 82% of all respondents would encourage their town/city to become a Sustainable Fish City.

Trees: Over 97% of all respondents would support the Manchester City of Trees campaign to double the tree cover across Greater Manchester.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Overall, 67% of all respondents thought that their local authority should become a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – free zone.

Trafford (28.1%) and Manchester (27.3%) had the highest proportion of local election candidates who responded to the survey. Responses from other local authority areas: Bolton (24.2%), Stockport (18.7%), Tameside (19.4%), Bury (13%), Salford (10.9%), Rochdale (8.3%), Oldham (6.5% ) and Wigan (5.3%). See attached chart (5)

ENDS

Contact for comments: Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth, Mobile: 07951 642858

Ali Abbas, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator. Mobile:

Notes for Editors

1) The local council candidates were asked their views on the following 15 questions. (Overall percentage for all respondents and support by political party as of 2nd May 2016):

* Following the historic agreement in Paris in December 2015 to keep the rise in global temperatures to well below 2°C and to aim for 1.5°C, will you support a target for Greater Manchester to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2030?

95% of all respondents supported a target for Greater Manchester to reduce its climate emissions by 80% by 2030. Support ranged from Conservative (88%),
Liberal Democrats (94%), Green (99%) to Labour (100%),

* Do you think Greater Manchester should set up a public energy company with the principles of clean energy, social justice and democracy at its core?

89% of all respondents supported Greater Manchester setting up a public energy company with the principles of clean energy, social justice and democracy at its core. Support ranged from Conservative (38%), Liberal Democrats (76%), Green (96%), Labour (97%), and UKIP (100%)

* Would you support Greater Manchester funding a home retrofit scheme to achieve a minimum CO2 reduction of 60% ?

Support for Greater Manchester funding a home retrofit scheme to achieve a minimum CO2 reduction of 60% was supported by 88% of all respondents. Support ranged from Conservative (63%), UKIP (67%), Liberal Democrats (82%), Labour (92%) to Green (95%).

* Will you call on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels?

Overall support for the GM Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels was 85% of all respondents. Political party support ranged from Conservative (38%), UKIP (67%), Labour (75%), Liberal Democats (82%) to Green (99%).

* Will you ensure that new property developments in your local authority area have to include measures to deal with surface water flooding?

Overall, 97% of all respondents would ensure that new property developments in your local authority area have to include measures to deal with surface water flooding. Political party support ranged from: Conservative (88%), Liberal Democrats (95%), Green (98%), UKIP (100%) and Labour (100%)

* Would you support your local authority to declare itself ‘frack-free’?

Over 93% of all respondents supporting calls for their local authority to to declare itself ‘frack-free’.Support ranged from Conservative (63%), UKIP (67%), Liberal Democrats (89%), Labour (94%) and Green Party 99%).

* Would you support the introduction of a Low Emission Zone or Clean Air Zone in your District/town centre?

Overall, 85% of all respondents would support introducing a Low Emission Zone or Clean Air Zone in their District / Town centre. Support ranged from: UKIP (33%), Conservatives (50%), Liberal Democrats (76%), Green (93%) and Labour (94%).

* Would you support the replacement or retrofitting of buses with diesel engines below Euro 4 standards by 2020 ?

Overall, 93% of all respondents supported the replacement or retrofitting of buses with diesel engines below Euro 4 standards by 2020. Political party support ranged from: Conservative (65%), Liberal Democrats (92%), Green (94%), Labour (94%) and UKIP (100%).

* Would you promote a ‘Car Free Day’ in your District/Town centre?

75% of all respondents would promote a ‘Car Free Day’ in their District/Town centre. Support ranged from UKIP (33%), Liberal Democrats (58%), Conservatives (63%), Labour (75%) and Green (88%)

* Will you support a commitment at the Greater Manchester level for continued dedicated funding for cycle infrastructure of at least £20 per head of population?

Overall, 78% of respondents supported dedicated funding of £20 per head of population for cycle infrastructure in Greater Manchester. Political party support ranged from: Conservative (50%), UKIP (67%), Liberal Democrats (68%), Labour (78%) and Green (88%).

* Do you support the introduction of a default speed limit of 20mph in all residential areas for the benefit of people walking and cycling?

Overall, 87% of respondents supported the introduction of a default speed limit of 20mph in all residential areas for the benefit of people walking and cycling. Support ranged from Conservatives (38%), UKIP (67%), Liberal Democrats (82%), Labour (92%) and Green (94%).

* Would you call on your Council to protect bees from harmful pesticides on council land?

Overall 98% of all respondents would call on their Council to protect bees from harmful pesticides on council land. Political party support ranged from: Conservative (88%), Labour (94%), Green (100%), Liberal Democrats (100%) and UKIP (100%).

* Will you encourage your town/city to become a Sustainable Fish City?

Overall 82% of all respondents would encourage their town/city to become a Sustainable Fish City. Support ranged from: UKIP (33%), Conservative (50%), Liberal Democrats (76%), Labour (83%) and Green (91%)

* Would you support the Manchester City of Trees campaign to double the tree cover across Greater Manchester and ensure that your Council makes an effective contribution towards achieving this ambition?

Over 97% of all respondents would support the Manchester City of Trees campaign to double the tree cover across Greater Manchester. Political support ranged from: Liberal Democrats (95%), Green (98%), Conservative (100%), Labour (100%) and UKIP (100%)

* Do you think your local authority should become a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – free zone?

Overall, 67% of all respondents thought that their local authority should become a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – free zone. Opinion was divided and ranged from: Liberal Democrats (21%), Conservatives (38%), Labour (58%), UKIP (67%) and Green (95%)

2) Each response from local council candidates is available online at: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/election-survey-2016-local-candidates/

Responses can be sorted by local authority area, political party and a summary by political party is available at: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/election-survey-2016-local-parties/

Some of the questions were asked to local election candidates in 2015 and a summary by political party is available at: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/election-survey-2015-local-parties/

3) Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution – Manchester Friends of the Earth reaction.

4) See Manchester Friends of the Earth response to the Greater Manchester Low-Emissions Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan consultation.

5) Chart (attached) showing the proportion of candidates who responded by local authority area.

6) Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. www.foe.co.uk

7) Manchester Friends of the Earth has endorsed Manchester: A Certain Future, an action plan for the city of Manchester to cut its carbon emissions by at least 41% by 2020. For more information, visit www.manchesterclimate.com