Monday, 14 April 2014

A Sense of History and Responsibility: Manchester and Climate Change

Its not uncommon for Manchester’s Leaders to evoke the city’s industrial heritage and spirit of innovation.

Manchester is the home of The (Manchester) Guardian, the first computer with memory, the first ‘nuclear-free’ city. It has a history of ‘firsts’.

Manchester is also arguably known as the first industrial city, with the advent of the cotton industry, mechanical innovation, the building of factories and a huge increase in population transforming the conurbation and the country.

Of the many things written about Manchester at the time it was described as a ‘great city rising before us as the very symbol of civilization, foremost in the march of improvement, a grand incarnation of progress.’ [Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, 1858; quoted by Briggs, Victorian Cities, 88]

But at the same time it was described ‘Earth and air seem impregnated with fog and soot. The factories extend their flanks of fouler brick one after another, bare, with shutterless windows, like economical and colossal prisons’ [Girouard, Cities and People, 257-258]

In describing Manchester as that first industrial city which influenced the world, so it can be argued that the origins of man-made Climate Change also began in this city.

This city, as much as any, needs to take ‘Climate Change’ and its effects as seriously as the global threat it is. In the same way that Manchester has historically been a technological and cultural leader, today it needs to be an environmental one.

The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report's focus was to look at ways of reducing the effects of climate change. Its message is that catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards. It suggests that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable. The implication of this statement is that action is ‘doable’, it’s possible, if action is taken quickly.

As a central and influential organisation in the region, Manchester City Council has been notable for

Manchester Green Party has been critical of the Council for this particularly as its actions or inaction are ultimately political decisions.

We call upon Manchester City Council to

 Manchester was also home of Emmeline Pankhurst the leading Suffragette. Their motto was ‘Deeds not Words’.

That is the spirit the City’s Leaders need to evoke.

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