Council environment “leader” holds takes no emergency action on carbon budget blow out.

The person in charge of Manchester’s response to climate change had held precisely ZERO meetings about getting the city vaguely close to its carbon-cutting emissions.

A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed the shocking fact that the Executive Member for the Environment, Tracy Rawlins, has not held any emergency meetings about the carbon budget blowout with faith leaders, business leaders or, well, anyone.

In November 2018 Manchester City Council and its Climate “Partnership” announced that Manchester was to be a zero carbon city by 2038. They were very keen to get loads of publicity for this. In July 2019 the Council, after pressure from activists, declared a climate emergency and added ” or sooner” to that aspiration.

The carbon budget for the city is 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, to last for the rest of the 21st century. The latest figures, known to the Council for several months, and snuck out in September and November, reveal – once you’ve found the buried information and decoded the deliberately hard-to-understand graphs – that in the last 3 years, even with COVID dampening economic activity, the city has burnt … 6 million tonnes. That’s 40% of the budget for 80 years…

If the Council cared about the carbon budget, or was planning to do more than hide behind its own “cuts” (mostly an artefact of austerity), it would be holding regular emergency meetings with various stakeholders, left, right and centre. Instead, well, read it and weep.

On November 4th I wrote to them

Dear Sir/Madam,

recently a spokesperson for the Council  conceded that
“We fully recognise that while the city as a whole has seen year-on-year reductions in its carbon emissions these have not yet been sufficient to say that Manchester is on the right trajectory to meet the citywide 2038 target.”

That got left out of their response, which continues below

Dear Marc Hudson

Re: Request for Information – Actions by Executive Member for the Environment– Reference Number: FOI/6021

Thank you for your request for information, which was received by Manchester City Council on 04/11/2021 and has been considered under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“the EIR”).

You have requested the following information:

I want to know, in the past 5 months, since becoming Executive Member for the Environment,  what action has Tracey Rawlins taken to help organisations in the city get on this “right trajectory”.  

Has she held any emergency summits with fellow Executive Members and/or members of the Council’s SMT? If so, on what dates, who attended, what were the outcomes. If not, why not, and are any planned? 

Response: There are no records of meetings entitled ’emergency summits’ held with fellow Executive Members and/or members of the Council’s SMT. None are currently planned. 

Has she held any emergency summits with businesses leaders? If so, on what dates, who attended, what were the outcomes? If not, why not, and are any planned? 

Response: There are no records of the Executive Member for the Environment holding meetings entitled ’emergency summits’ held with business leaders. None are currently planned. 

Has she held any emergency summits with faith leaders? If so, on what dates, who attended, what were the outcomes? If not, why not, and are any planned? 

Response: There are no records of the Executive Member for the Environment holding meetings entitled ’emergency summits’ held with faith leaders. None are currently planned. 

Has she held any emergency summits with community leaders? If so, on what dates, who attended, what were the outcomes? If not, why not, and are any planned? 

Response: There are no records of the Executive Member for the Environment holding meetings entitled ’emergency summits’ held with community leaders. None are currently planned. 

Has she held any emergency summits with members of the Climate Change “Partnership” under the banner of the Partnership.  If so, on what dates, who attended, what were the outcomes. If not, why not, and are any planned? 

Response: There are no records of the Executive member the Executive Member for the Environment holding meetings entitled ’emergency summits’ held with members of the Climate Change “Partnership” under the banner of the Partnership. None are currently planned. 

Has she asked the Partnership to display the existence of climate change and the need to take urgent local action on their websites? If so, when did she ask this and what were the replies. If not, why not, and does she ever intend to do so. 

Response: There are no records of the the Executive Member for the Environment asking the Partnership to display the existence of climate change and the need to take urgent local action on their websites. 

So, what action HAS the Executive Member taken since getting the gig? It’s hard to say. Note also that in each occasion we asked “if not, why not” and there has been no answer to that on any of the questions. So, will ask for them to clarify this, and if not, will go to internal review… Here’s the email I just sent back

Dear Mr Kershner,

thank you for your reply to this FOIA.

If at all possible, I would like to avoid an internal review.

I would like complete answers to all the questions. None has in fact been comprehensively answered.

For the questions about emergency summits, if you look again, you will see that it says “if not, why not.”  At no point is there any explanation given for the lack of an emergency summit. It may be that in some cases the Executive Member heard on the grapevine that, for example, the business community wasn’t interested, or that faith leaders thought that prayer would be enough. It may be that she was too busy doing other things.  Whatever it is, I would like to answers to each of those questions.

In addition, on the last question, concerning contacting the Partnership members about their websites, I asked if there were any plans to do so. The response provided did not answer that part of my question.

Please let me know in the next 48 hours if you intend to provide this information. If I do not hear from you, I will assume that you are not going to do so, and will – with reluctance – pursue the internal review option.


Yours sincerely
Marc Hudson

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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