Author Archive

Steady State Manchester gathering at Madlab, Thurs 19th July 2012

From http://steadystatemanchester.net

A date and venue has been set for the next gathering for everyone interested in preparing Manchester for the post-growth world.

Please make a note in your diary now for the evening of Thursday 19th July. Between 6.30pm and 9pm dozens of people will pass through Madlab, 36-40 Edge Street, in the Northern Quarter. They will mingle with new friends and old, put forward ideas, learn about different ways that they can be involved, look at an early draft of some of the sections of the report.


Councillors to discuss Steady State Economics

from Manchester Climate Monthly

Next Wednesday 20th June 2012, councillors and citizens will discuss a report about Steady-State economics, at
Mancheser City Council’s “Economy Scrutiny Committee.” (See below for details)

This report was written solely by several council officers, despite a long-standing offer to work collaboratively from a group of academics, business people and activists (an offer the Council initially accepted).

Manchester Climate Monthly have re-posted (with permission) a critique of the Council’s report, pointing out its short-comings and offering constructive ways forward. It can also be found here.

The meeting starts 9.15am in Committee Room 11 at the Town Hall. It’s free, there’s no need to book. Some of us are meeting at the Waterhouse pub on Princess Street from 8.30am.


Ryanair marketing stall ejected by students

A protest banner from another Ryanair demonstration

On Thursday 27th October 2011, Ryanair had to cancel a marketing event at the University of Manchester Students Union after students dismantled their promotional stall in protest against the company’s record on the environment and workers’ rights.

Ryanair had advertised to hold a stall from 12pm to 3pm last Thursday (29 October). However, at 12.30pm, a group of around nine students began dismantling the company’s banners and display boards and popping their promotional balloons. The Ryanair sales team soon left the building.

Students said the action was in anger at Ryanair’s disregard for the dangers of climate change by aggressively marketing cheap flights. They said the action was also taken in solidarity with disgruntled Ryanair workers. Last August, Ryanair worker John Foley staged a rooftop protest at Liverpool John Lennon Airport against the company’s anti-union activities and poor record on workers rights.

Physics student Catherine Redcliffe said, “Ryainair’s relentless pursuit of profit over all other concerns is trampling on workers’ rights and endangering our future at the same time. The aviation industry takes more money out of Northwest region than it puts in.”

Nonetheless, Ryanair seemed adamant that the day had been a success claiming that their staff were “about to pack up and head home” when the stall was disrupted.   Spokesperson Stephen McNamara said, “Ryanair thanks the Plane Stupid clowns for once again turning a good promo into a great promo.”

However, students were bemused by this claim. Redcliffe explained, “Ryanair’s promotional stall was advertised on posters to last from 12noon to 3pm. The stall was dismantled at around 12.30pm after which their sales team left – so they lost out on most of the day.  Their response is nothing unusual though.  Everyone’s used to being lied to by Ryanair.”

Student Union democracy

Just one balloon remain.....abandoned Ryanair marketing stall at the University of Manchester Students Union

The students, who did not claim to be from any particular group, were further angered at Students Union management for renting the space to Ryanair in the first place. Previously, students had voted that their union should campaign on climate issues and not have business relations with environmentally-damaging companies.

Geography student Marc Hempton, 20, said, “I wanted to show how Ryanair’s presence was a breach of our democratic process. This is my Union and our collective decision had been sidelined by unelected management. We shouldn’t allow environmentally damaging companies in our union where we have fought for positive policies on climate change and against relationships with unethical companies. I’m glad we sent them packing for the day.”

The day before the stall (Wednesday 26th October), activists had petitioned UMSU management with letters signed by students to cancel the promotional event.  Management refused, saying that Ryanair stall was bringing in extra cash.

Hempton added, “In some ways, this is a microcosm of problems regarding climate change and workers’ rights. Where making a quick profit is prioritised at the expense of people and our environment, it makes it harder to address these issues and creates bigger costs further down the line.”

UMSU were unavailable for comment.

This article was adapted from the Mule.


Runway activists to re-unite

Environmental activists who occupied tree-houses and barricaded themselves in underground tunnels during the long running protests against the construction of the second runway at Manchester Airport will be re-united at a public event this Thursday 17 February commemorating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the runway in February 2001.

Original article from the Manchester Mule.

Hosted by activists from Manchester Climate Action and People and Planet, the evening will see veteran activists from around across the country return to Manchester for an event including a photo and video exhibition from the protest camps, displayed at the University of Manchester Students Union.

Merrick Godhaven, 41, who now lives in Leeds explained why he was returning for the event, “There’s a radical history of resistance to power, and that history will never be taught in schools.  We have to make the effort to make this people’s history live, and see that one generation can take inspiration and practical ideas from what has gone before.  The present campaign against Manchester Airport is also a source of inspiration to me.  Seeing the new generation of activists team up and share ideas with the older one makes us all stronger and more likely to succeed.”

Lance Crookes, who was also involved at the time, and who now lives in Northenden said, “Manchester’s council leaders were very vocal when they promised that 50,000 new jobs would be created as a result of the 2nd runway but there has been silence since it opened in 2001.”

MULE contacted Manchester Airport for a response on the question of job creation, however they declined to respond.

Simon Bradley, 22, from Manchester People and Planet, “The event not only looks at the rich heritage of environmental activism in Manchester, but also provides a valuable opportunity for today’s generation of activists to meet those who were campaigning on the same issues a decade ago. With the airport still at the top of the environmental agenda in Manchester, swapping stories and experiences can help us raise awareness and challenge the Airport’s dangerous expansion plans.”

The event is being organised in the run up to the trial of six climate activists who breached airside security at Manchester Airport last May – temporarily shutting the airport down. The four day trial begins on Monday 21st February at Trafford Magistrates Court. The defendants are charged with aggravated trespass and will plead not guilty.

“Site Battles: Second Runway at Manchester Airport” will take place on Thursday 17th February at 7.30pm at the University of Manchester Students Union. The event is free and open to members of the public.


The Co-operative Bank; good with money or fantastic for aviation?

From the Mule – 7th January 2010

Environmental activists have been angered by the news that the Cooperative Bank has taken part in a refinancing deal for the development of Manchester Airport. The bank will provide £40 million over the next 5 years to Manchester Airports Group despite its much-vaunted ‘Ethical Investments Policy’ which includes mitigating the threat of climate change as a central tenet.

The Bank’s policy states, “We will not finance any business whose core activity contributes to global climate change, via the extraction or production of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), with an extension to the distribution of those fuels that have a higher global warming impact (e.g. tar sands and certain biofuels).”

Zoe Creighton-Hird from Manchester Climate Action said, “If their ethical policy states that they won’t finance businesses that contribute towards climate change via fossil fuels then why do they finance businesses that do the same via emissions from aviation? It’s another case of aviation being ignored as a massive contributor to climate change and goes to show that the Coop’s environmental image is an illusion, if they are willing to invest millions into the fastest growing cause of carbon dioxide emissions.”

Manchester Airport is currently responsible for around 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, making it one of the biggest polluters in the North West. It plans to demolish local homes to expands its operations, with the intention of doubling passenger numbers by 2030.

The Coop Travel arm of the business states the following on its website, ”We were the only travel agent to oppose the development of a third runway at Heathrow and we oppose the development of runways throughout the UK unless there is a clear sustainability case.”

The Cooperative Bank’s brand is based heavily its environmental credentials, in particular for its recent active role in opposing the tar sands project in Canada. While its ethical code is widely regarded as being at the forefront of conscientious banking, this move raises serious questions over the bank’s policies.

When contacted by the MULE, a spokesperson for the Cooperative Bank said, “The Bank’s Ethical Policy is based on consultation with our customers and reflects their ethical concerns.”

“Whilst we acknowledge that the climate change impact of various forms of transport are a concern to some people our Policy does not contain an explicit statement excluding finance for air travel related business.”

“We are, however, arguably one of the UK’s leading businesses in tackling climate change, through, for instance, our refusal to invest in fossil fuel extraction and production, procuring virtually all our energy supply from renewable sources and our, as part of our Toxic Fuels campaign with our customers and members seeking to halt the increasing trend towards exploiting fuels with a higher global warming potential such as tar sands.”

The finance deal with Manchester Airport Group totalled £280 million, with six other banks – Barclays, Handelsbanken, RBS, HSBC, National Australia Bank (through its subsidiary Yorkshire Bank) and Santander – providing £40 million each over a five year period.


Giant elephant visits Council’s climate change conference

Campaigners against the expansion of Manchester Airport took a 12 foot inflatable elephant to the city council’s Climate Change Action Plan stakeholder conference on Tuesday 30 November. Members of Manchester Climate Action were highlighting the omission of the airport from the council’s climate strategy  – the ‘elephant in the room’.

 

Participants arriving at the conference including council leader Sir Richard Leese and a number of business and community representatives were flyered explaining the elephant at the foyer entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefields.

Sarah Thomas from Manchester Climate Action said, “Having a Climate Change Action Plan that ignores the impact of the airport is like having a drink driving law that ignores the effects of whiskey. The Council need to get real.”

The first annual stakeholder conference was aimed to engage with residents and businesses of Manchester about reducing their carbon emissions. The event was part of the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, named ‘Manchester: A Certain Future’, which was published in 2009 and promised to cut the city’s C02 emissions by over 40 per cent by 2020.

The stunt by Manchester Climate Action occurs the week before 11 activists from Manchester Plane Stupid stand trial at Trafford Magistrates Court following a protest at Manchester Airport in May. The trial begins on Monday 6 December 2010 and is expected to three to four days. A show of support is being organised outside court from 9am.

A campaign titled ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ is being run around the court trial and has received statements of support from Heathrow Labour MP John McDonnell, Independent journalist Johann Hari, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.


Debate: Is direct action necessary to create a better world.

Direct Action debate - Thurs 25th November 2010

Around 50 people attended the debate on direct action at Man Met Students Union on 25th November 2010.  The event was organised by Manchester Climate Action and Plane Stupid in the run up the trails of seventeen climate activists who took direct action to stop emissions at Manchester Airport last May 2010, temporarily shutting it down.
http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org/

The three panellists addressed the following issues:

- Why do people take direct action and transgress the law?
– What are the legal defences available to people in court?
– Can civil disobedience be justified and is it effective?
– What role could it play in fighting the cuts, tackling climate chaos and creating social change?

Dan Glass from the Climate 9 spoke of his work exploring the boundaries between environmental justice and the law.  He can be heard discussing the issue on Radio 4’s ‘Costing the Earth’.  Dan is also a defendant in the Ratcliffe-on-Soar trial which began on 22nd November 2010 at Nottingham Crown Court.

Kate Brandon is Strategic Engagement Worker at the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Action Group (SNAG). Part of her work involves acting as liaison between different community groups in Manchester and the City Council as part of the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Partnership. Kate raised some problems and concerns with direct action including the risk of alienating some parts of the public and the need to take people with us in climate campaigning.

Catherine from Taget Brimar talked about direct action and the law within the peace movement, and what useful comparisons could be drawn in relation to climate change.

The discussion was facilitated by Sarah Wakefield (General Secretary – University of Manchester Students Union).

Related links:

- The Drax 29 were found guilty of obstructing a railway line in June 2009.

- In September 2008 – six people were acquitted of criminal damage to Kingsnorth power station.


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