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Open letter from GM-CAN to Manchester City Council

Dear Cllr Leese and Cllr Stogia,

As Parliament today debates the global climate crisis, we the undersigned call on Manchester City Council to declare a Climate and Environmental Emergency at the soonest possible opportunity.

We note the council’s commitment to a science-based carbon budget of 15m tonnes (as its share of the Greater Manchester carbon budget) and that this requires Manchester to make 13% cuts every year for the next 19 years.

However, we also note that even under the measures outlined in existing plans, the city and region are set to emit twice the carbon allowed by this budget by 2038.

Furthermore it is also clear that the actions required, which will fall on a variety of sectors across the city not just the local authority, are not happening anywhere near quickly enough, with few businesses signed up and barely anything done to bring in citizens as partners to help own the problem and work up solutions.

In addition the funding required to help pay for much of this is still not in place.

Yet it is clear we need to go further, faster – which is why we are asking you to take this extra step to maintain the council’s leadership role both locally and nationally.

Because since Manchester announced its carbon target in December 2018, the full scale of this crisis and depth of change required has further emerged. For instance, the following things have happened;-

  • Dozens more councils across the UK have declared a climate emergency and a zero-carbon target of 2030 
  • Many have set up Citizens’ Assemblies to plot how communities can work together to meet this challenging goal
  • The government has issued a report admitting the UK will miss its statutory carbon budget from the 2020s and beyond 
  • Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in the streets – hundreds of them from Manchester – and more than 1,000 have been arrested due to the strength of feeling that we need to go further faster
  • Hundreds of children have demonstrated in Manchester City centre, demanding further action here
  • Millions of people were shocked by a powerful documentary on BBC1 – ‘Climate Change the Facts’ in which David Attenborough issued a call to action with the following words: “If we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies”.
  • Parliament has today (1/05/2019) debated climate change – with both Michael Gove and Jeremy Corbyn and other party representatives agreeing we all face ‘a climate emergency’.

Furthermore, on May 6, there will be more shocking reading in the form of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, that will highlight the devastation to our natural world over the past 50 years, warn that tens of thousands of species are threatened, and highlight the risk to humans if this devastation continues.

We therefore believe Declaring an Emergency would signal the urgency and intent that is required for Manchester to come together to tackle this challenge, and is what citizens would expect of its leaders in a time of unprecedented crisis.  

It will also help build the public support needed for the necessary actions by the council and its partners and beyond.

We therefore ask that Manchester City Council does the following:-

  1. Declare a Climate & Environmental Emergency at the soonest opportunity – we note MCC’s next full meeting is on 15 May
  2. Urgently review its ‘zero carbon by 2038’ pledge with a view to bringing forward to 2030 (but keeping the same cap of 15m tonnes), for instance by listening to the proposals we set out in our March 2019 response
  3. Take immediate action to further reduce emissions given the imperative to cut most of our emissions in the next few years
  4. Set up a Citizen’s Assembly to help advise on the action needed across all sectors to meet these goals.


The Greater Manchester Climate Action Network (GM-CAN)

(coalition of climate and environmental groups in the city region)

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