Barbara, our Programme Action Officer, gave a presentation to a conference entitled ‘There is no Planet B’ organised by S I Madurai, one of our Friendship Link clubs. The conference was attended by over 100 members from all five Federations.
‘S I Manchester hasn’t really focussed on environmental projects in recent years, but we have started to challenge each other to make individual changes – to reduce, reuse and recycle. However, there are bigger challenges in our area. Like many great cities around the world Greater Manchester has a strong industrial and commercial heritage, from the early days of the cotton industry, through the development of major engineering industries to the current focus on service industries and the media. But this does come at a cost – there are not enough homes close to where people work, and not enough public transport or other infrastructure for those who don’t want to use their cars. As a result our air quality is extremely poor – although there are targets for improvement these are not in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
Plans for the region cover tackling climate change through initiatives such as Clean Air Zones and providing a transport strategy that doesn’t focus on the car. The objectives set out in these plans – zero carbon emissions and a greener economy – are just what we want to hear. But when you get down to the details at local level things are very different – there are plans to build large housing estates on carbon-capturing peat moss, tearing down thousands of tress in the process, and to provide roads for more cars rather than sustainable transport and cycle routes. How these plans fit with the fine objectives set out by the Greater Manchester leaders is totally beyond us!
What can we – as Soroptimists or as individuals – do about it? We can raise awareness, lobby for alternative and sustainable solutions, protest, and plant trees (or prevent them being destroyed). There are local groups in our area working on a variety of climate change and environmental issues and we could work with them – to challenge our leaders when their plans don’t meet the objectives they have set out and hold them to account for their decisions. What we cannot do is sit back and let it all happen around us. We all need to take action now!’