The Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN) and Zero Carbon Manchester held a discussion on 6th July 2017. The meeting, which was also the MEEN Annual General Meeting (AGM), took place in their HQ, Bridge 5 Mill and besides the inspiring ideas presented during the 2.5-hour-long session it also showed the immense power of community-based initiatives.
Paul Allen from Zero Carbon Britain told the story of how we were led into our current ‘extreme energy’ lifestyles and explained that ‘the landscape is designed to increase consumption.’ We can only echo these remarks – especially the one about ‘we are still building houses which are not nearly as energy efficient as they could be.’! Perhaps his most important message was this: we already have the technology to reach zero emissions and fulfill our Paris Accord commitments. This should be done through practical projects which are capable of overcoming challenges in innovative ways. Systematic change must be implemented through supported and scaled-up practical projects. Change will not happen instantly – but at least there is a way.
Later, in order to try to get into the positive mindset necessary to really have an impact, the participants were asked to write a postcard, describing how they imagine the future to be when carbon emissions are reduced to zero. After the exercise, we shared these visions to build collective enthusiasm. This was followed by a discussion on the Zero Carbon Implementation Plan (http://www.manchesterclimate.com/sites/default/files/MCCS%202017-50_Imp%20Plan%202017-22_0.pdf) which has a particular relevance in light of our Community Green Deal, deep retrofit program, a summary of which can be found here:https://carbon.coop/content/community-group-points-way-warm-manchester-homes. The presentation of the plan brought with it many questions but one thing became clear to me during the Q & A: these communities, like MEEN or Carbon Coop, have an incredible capacity to connect people sharing the same passion for the environment. They may not have the resources of bigger organisations but with the people involved, they are strong beyond imagination. And when combatting climate change, these communities can lead the way. The event later continued in The Briton’s Protection with further discussions. The most important thought which I came away was, however, a very simple one: if you can, go to these local events, get involved, be a pioneer, join your community!
If you’d like to follow the work of MEEN, check out their website: https://www.meen.org.uk/