Time for a Zero Carbon UK plan? Time to talk Fijian

by Jonny Sadler on 11.05.2018

Last month the UK Government’s MP for Clean Growth, Claire Perry, announced that she will be asking the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to review the UK’s long-term CO2 targets and to provide advice on what the UK’s new targets should be, to bring them in line with the Paris Agreement. It’s expected that the CCC’s headline recommendation will be that the UK needs to become a zero carbon country by 2050, if not sooner. As momentum and commitments continue to build globally, it’s a recommendation that I hope the UK Government will adopt.


Such a move would also most likely be welcomed by Manchester residents – 93% of those who were involved in the development of the Manchester Climate Change Strategy 2017-50 supported the aim for a zero carbon future [ But it’s a move Manchester – and the rest of the UK – will need to welcome with two conditions. Firstly, that the approach to developing a zero carbon target and plan for the UK is open, transparent and genuinely involves UK citizens and organisations in their development. And secondly that any plan recognises the critical role that cities and their businesses, charities, local councils, schools, universities, public sector, and citizens will need to play in its delivery – and with the right resources to enable them to act.


Following such an approach would be a radical departure from the UK Government’s current processes for developing climate change policy. Happily though, inspiration is at hand.


Last week I have been at the United Nations in Bonn, discussing how citizens, cities, regions and other ‘non-party stakeholders’ can be genuinely involved in further developing and delivering the Paris Agreement on climate change. Organised as a day-long meeting with presentations, workshops and plenary discussion, the ‘Action for Climate Empowerment’ (ACE) session was a great example of how to embrace openness and transparency as key ingredients in the development of public policy.


Young people (including the organisers of the ACE Youth Forum, environmental organisations, cities, museums, and many others were directly responsible for the workshop’s final recommendations. The recommendations are expected to be available shortly on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website before going forward to be considered by negotiators who will be involved in the 24th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice in December 2018.


If the UNFCCC process isn’t inspiration enough, the UK Government has one other fantastic tool at their disposal – the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ approach.


‘Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.’


The Talanoa Dialogue will be part of the legacy of Fiji’s presidency of the COP23 conference in 2017. Individual dialogues are currently being organised around the world, including those aiming to bring together national, regional and local governments to discuss shared goals and the means of achieving them.


At the time of writing there is no Talanoa Dialogue planned in the UK. As we now look towards COP24 this December, and with cautious optimism that the UK Government will start the process that will lead to a new target for the UK to become a zero carbon country, is now the time for us to have a Fijian-style conversation of our own?


To help get the conversation going, Manchester Climate Change Agency is asking for the views of the people that live, work and study here:


‘Do you think the UK, including the Government, public sector, private sector, third sector, and citizens, should play its full part in helping to keep global warming well below 2oC?, in line with the Paris Agreement?’


We will provide an update on the responses we receive at the Manchester Climate Change Conference on 17th July 2018. 


Finally, to the UNFCCC Secretariat, particularly Niclas Svenningsen and Adriana Valenzuela in the brilliant Global Climate Action team, thank you for the opportunity for Manchester to participate in this week’s meeting, for working to ensure that cities have a strong role in our collective efforts to keep global warming well below 2oC, and for the excellent Fijian-style discussions. We look forward to the next opportunity.


CO2 emissions

Manchester Climate Change Agency is a Carbon Literate Organisation and is committed to understanding and managing the environmental impact of our activities. We are currently at the ‘understanding’ stage of this work, with details on how we will manage the impact to follow. The CO2 emissions from the flights to this event were 174.6kg, calculated using the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) carbon emissions calculator.