Agenda item

Agenda item

Climate Emergency petition

Report of the City Solicitor attached


The Committee is to consider a petition which asks the Council to undertake the following:-


"We the undersigned petition the Council to establish a permanent "Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee", of equal standing to the existing 6 scrutiny committees and make strenuous efforts to secure additional funding for climate action, including the use of its strategic reserves"



The Committee considered a petition, submitted on behalf of Climate Emergency Manchester, entitled “Respond to climate change with more democracy and more money”, which having received over 1,700, signatures requested the Council to establish a permanent “Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee”, of equal standing to the existing six scrutiny committees and to make strenuous efforts to secure additional funding for climate action, including the use of some of its strategic reserves.


Ms Chloe Jefferies, representing Climate Emergency Manchester addressed the Committee setting out the rationale as to why she believed the Council should establish a 7th Scrutiny Committee, which included:-


·                It was felt that the current Scrutiny arrangements were not working in relation to addressing climate emergency;

·                The current Scrutiny Committee with oversight for climate emergency had a vast remit and there was insufficient time to address an issue on the scale of climate change with sufficient depth and detail;

·                It was felt that the current approach to scrutinising climate change to date by the current scrutiny committees had been scattered rather than embedded;

·                According to a Manchester Climate Change Agency report in 2020, a quarter of Manchester’s remaining carbon budget for the 21st century had been burned in the space of just two years and the current arrangement were not keeping the city on track;

·                It was felt that the Council’s scrutiny arrangements had not been updated to reflect the complexity of climate change and growing area of Council activity which required transformative change and speed of action; and

·                For scrutiny of climate change to be robust it needed to be central to the remit of a particular committee


The Leader was invited to respond to the points raised.  In doing so he commented that:-


·                In the main he supported the principles that had been raised by the petition and the comments made;

·                The Council only accounted for approximately 2% of the city’s emissions and had no statutory powers to require other parts of the city to act or scrutinise them;

·                It was the purpose of the every part of the Council to make a contribution to tackle climate change;

·                The demands on the current Neighbourhood and Environment Scrutiny Committee were too high to allow sufficient consideration of climate emergency;

·                It was proposed that the balance of Scrutiny Committee remits would be reviewed, with the proposals that Homelessness would come under the remit of Communities and Equalities Scrutiny and that all Transport matters would be consolidated and placed under the remit of Economy Scrutiny;

·                The above proposals would free up capacity for Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee to give more time to scrutiny of climate change and zero carbon; and

·                It was envisaged that these proposals would come into effect as of the new Municipal Year and negate the need to establish a 7th Scrutiny Committee.


Some of the key points that arose from the Committees discussions were:-


·                Members were in support of the proposal to realign the remits of the Scrutiny Committees to allow greater scrutiny of climate change and zero carbon;

·                It was proposed that in addition to the realignment of scrutiny remits, the Council renamed the current Neighbourhood and Environment Scrutiny Committee to Environment and Climate Change Committee, which would be the main committee to scrutinise issues such as environmental integrity, climate change, bio diversity and flooding;

·                It was also felt that this should not preclude scrutiny of climate change by other Scrutiny Committees where appropriate to do so;

·                It was suggested that the proposed changes to scrutiny remits were made as soon as possible;

·                It was commented that perhaps consideration needed to be given to the remits of all Scrutiny Committees in order for them to remain relevant and respond to changing circumstances impacting on the council and the city;

·                It was felt that investment in tackling climate change was essential to securing the long term future of the city;

·                It was felt that the re-establishment of the Climate Emergency Sub Group needed to take place as soon as possible; and

·                It was proposed that this Committee scrutinised the financial implications in tackling climate change as part of its future work programme.


Clarification was sought by Ms Jeffries as to what the recommendation of the Committee would be and what the next steps would be.  The Leader advised that the determination of committee structure and scrutiny remits was a function of full council and the process that would be followed would be for proposals to be considered by the Council’s Constitution and Nominations Committee with recommendations then made to full Council.  He added that he would be supportive of this process being undertaken in time for consideration at the next meeting of the Council on 31 March 2021.




The Committee:-


(1)       Recommends to Council, via the Constitutional and Nominations Committee, that the existing Scrutiny Committee structure is reviewed with a view to a significantly greater emphasis being given to climate change and the environment more broadly, by an existing committee that is predominantly focussed on this.

(2)       Recommends that the review is undertaken and concluded in time for proposals to be considered at the Full Council meeting on 31 March 2021.

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