Climate resilience in marginalised communities: “For the first time in more than 100 years life expectancy has failed to increase across the country, and for the poorest 10% of women it has actually declined.” (Marmot, 2020). People from low-income groups and those with other disadvantages (e.g. illness, disability) face multiple climate injustices (Preston et al., 2014). They contribute least to climate emissions and are more likely to face adverse effects. These groups pay a relatively high proportion of their incomes toward policy responses yet participate least in decision- making which shape policy and practice (ibid.). Levels of participation in political action and civil society associations closely correlate with income, education and occupation so that action tends to favour opinions and perspectives of those relatively advantaged over the disadvantaged (Pattie et al., 2004). Perceptions of unfairness in process and outcome affect willingness of communities to act, which includes climate adaptation (Adger et al., 2016). Despite their inherent limitations, empirical understandings of geographical patterns of vulnerability and disadvantage (e.g. Lindley et al., 2011) help to raise awareness of who is most affected, where and why. Yet multiple challenges remain for engaging and developing appropriate actions with disadvantaged individuals and communities.
Manchester (UK) is a diverse city of 503,00 citizens with over 200 languages spoken. MCC’s Forecasting Model projects a population of 661,000 by 2027. Benefits of economic growth are not equally matched by improvements in health outcomes inequalities across the city, with high levels of ill health and early death. Manchester wards have the lowest levels of green infrastructure than other local authorities within Greater Manchester. Its fast-growing population faces increased risk of extreme weather events, from flooding to drought. North Manchester is home to approximately 130,500 residents across 10 wards with high deprivation. Our research will be embedded within the North Manchester ward of Miles Platting & Newton Heath. The ward has approximately 15,000 residents and was once home to workers across varied industries.
MCC declared a Climate Emergency on 10 July 2019, setting the City’s zero-carbon target for 2038. Led by MCCA its Zero Carbon Framework outlines an approach to reach the target, yet Manchester’s carbon budget will run out in 2025. Manchester Climate Change Framework 2020-25 declares “15 Actions”, calling on all residents and organisations in Manchester to “help meet our climate change targets”. These actions combine mitigation strategies with adaptation but the methods by which to engage communities and identify barriers to taking up these actions remain undefined. Most residents face barriers to respond to the 15 Actions. We identified a viable Manchester activation of socially engaged arts as an important development for local engagement at very local levels for addressing climate resilience within communities. Subsequently, MCCA and Neighbourhood Wards have invited our research team to evolve an environmental engagement approach with a refreshingly different place-based, creative approach to connect communities with the 15 Actions.