The human brain is capable of holding two contradictory concepts simultaneously, apparently. According to Liverpool City Council you can grow an economy and tackle the climate emergency at the same time. They seem to be stuck in an Escher drawing, at the superficial level of the illusion, not having sussed out that the stairs lead you back down.
By Ritchie Hunter
Image above: Ascending and Descending, 1960, by MC Escher
What’s going on here? The world view now is that global warming is the biggest danger humanity has ever faced, even in the US, with their climate denying president. There’s no doubt that political leaders all over the world have been shaken by the upsurge of (mainly) young people, demanding that climate change be taken seriously. But while most of the ‘solutions’ to the crises rely on replacing carbon production with ‘Green’ production through ‘Green’ businesses, our council have not yet reached even this stage of consciousness. Their reaction has been to tweak economic ‘growth’ plans to emphasise the environmental benefits.
For Liverpool it’s business as usual with a minty shade of green. And they have formed a new committee – although even the name of this shows how serious they are. The ‘Climate Change Committee’ (what happened to the word ‘Emergency?) has extensive powers to…’scrutinise activities’! (See here)
Council plans for our city will increase pollution and do little to prevent a climate catastrophe. The ‘Connectivity Plan’ changes bus routes and gets people to places they don’t want to go. The 82 bus route, for instance, will strand passengers in L1, far away from Lime Street Station, the main post office, theatres and St John’s. It will bring more cars into the city centre! But the council made £8m from car-parking last year, so you can see where their priority lies.
The council have a share in Speke Airport and so plans for a new runway taking out large areas of Oglet Shore make sense to them, as it will bring in revenue. Their partnerships with Peel Holdings (See links here and here) has grown the economy. Projects such as the Everton Stadium will grow it more. The Council are providing £280m for this, to be built on Peel land, borrowing the cash from a low-interest government fund called the Public Works Loans Board (PSWLB).
While taking out bus lanes, the council are to spend £500m for road improvements to get traffic speedily from the upgraded airport to central attractions. The ‘South Liverpool Key Corridor’ scheme has been hatched to speed cars along Riverside Drive on a dual carriageway going past 2500 houses. These built on what has been described by the council as a “waste derelict former rubbish dump”, or by environmentalists as a “sanctuary for wild life, where nature is reversing the effects of toxic land use”. Although these road plans are denied by Council sources you can see them here. Borrowing money for building is all part of the council policy.
They’ve even set up their own private company to oversee this!
“HOLD ON!” You may say. “Don’t the council have to make £57m more in cuts because of the “cash black hole that’s the worst since World War 2”. Why don’t they borrow money to stop these cuts to vital public services?”
What should the Council do?
Cease all projects unless they have zero carbon emissions, with no loss of pay for the workers involved and swapping them to ‘Green’ projects.
Set up a ‘Climate Emergency’ group, comprising community representatives and environmental organisations to look at all planned projects, and with the power to make environmental improvements.