News / Environment

Bristol’s first citywide climate strategy published

By ellie pipe, Wednesday Feb 26, 2020

Fundamental and radical changes are needed for Bristol to achieve its carbon neutrality vision by 2030, say the people behind a new citywide strategy.

Among the actions proposed in the One City Climate Strategy is a significant increase in active travel, transforming freight, aviation and shipping, retrofitting buildings, heat decarbonisation, restoring and protecting wildlife and moving to a more plant-based and sustainable diet.

Agreed by the One City Environmental Sustainability Board at a meeting in Watershed on Wednesday, the working document has been revealed just two days before Greta Thunberg’s high profile visit to Bristol.

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“We need our city to come together like never before and it’s encouraging that people from organisations across the city have made this approach a reality,” said mayor Marvin Rees, speaking ahead of the publication of the working document, put together by representatives from across the city.

“This strategy is an important step in the process because it shows that we need to make widespread and radical changes to the way Bristol and the UK operates.

“It shows what needs to happen nationally, regionally and locally for our 2030 carbon neutrality goal to be achieved, including changes to legislation, finances and infrastructure. But it also shows that we can use this change to create thousands of jobs and create a fairer and better city in the process.

“We now need widespread collaboration to accelerate change. No single organisation alone is enough to drive the transformation that’s needed. We must respond as a city – involving everyone in Bristol.”

One City Environment Board in Watershed. Photo by Ellie Pipe

More than 300 people have had input into the ‘evidence-based’, working document, which aims to set out a pathway of action on how Bristol can become carbon neutral and climate resilient.

Bristol City Council became the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency in September 2018, when a motion presented by the Greens’ Carla Denyer gained cross-party backing. An ecological emergency was then declared earlier this month.

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Read more: Bristol declares climate emergency and pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030

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The environmental board is made up of 18 members, including the mayor, representatives from Bristol Waste, Bristol Energy, Wessex and Bristol Water, Avon Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and others.

The strategy is described as the first of its kind. It sets out the challenges and opportunities in tackling climate action and also looks at the wider carbon footprints of residents and businesses, influenced by their global activities.

The independent Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change (BACCC) reviewed the evidence base and the strategy. The committee is co-chaired by Dr Joanna House, research lead for global environmental change at the University of Bristol, Cabot Institute, and Professor James Longhurst, assistant vice chancellor for environment and sustainability UWE Bristol.

Welcoming the launch of the strategy, House said “The committee understands that decarbonisation and adapting to climate change will not be easy, and welcomes this important first step.

“In line with the requirements of a climate emergency, these reports have been developed rapidly and with limited resources, with the intention of catalysing urgent action.

“As such, it provides a good evidence base from which to get started, whilst recognising that in some areas more evidence is needed, and this should be brought in to decision-making as it becomes available. The focus should now shift to developing the urgent next steps that are needed in areas like transport and heating.”

The next steps are to align the plans and actions of organisations, including Bristol City Council, to transform the way they operate at a local level and ask national government for necessary changes in laws, policies and finances.

A new website is in development to help Bristol citizens, organisations and businesses take effective action on climate change.

Main photo by Lowie Trevena

Read more: Bristol declares ecological emergency

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