A Green New Deal for Bristol promises to transform the economy, invest in jobs and infrastructure and take a collective approach to tackling the climate emergency.
But it did not pass through the council chamber without controversy, as the city’s opposition parties accused the Labour administration of proposing a motion full of “self-aggrandising guff” and devoid of practical measures.
The motion, put to full council on Tuesday, September 10, pledges to: restate the urgency of the climate emergency, back the One City Plan and request all party group leaders to write to their national politicians for support with legislation, regulation and funding to fulfil goals that include reaching zero carbon emissions by 2030, investment in renewables and green jobs.
It came with a lengthy preamble about ongoing work, prompting opposition councillors to hit back at the Labour group for politicising an important issue and de-valuing the motion.
Carla Denyer, a Green councillor for Clifton Down, put forward an amendment with what she termed “concrete actions”, including halting major road building that adds to carbon emissions, instead prioritising alternative infrastructure and opposing the expansion of Bristol Airport.
This was voted down.
Proposing the Green New Deal motion, Kye Dudd, the council’s cabinet member for the Green New Deal, energy, and transport, told members: “It’s about bringing people together; it’s about bringing workers and communities together rather than dictating to workers, accusing people of not changing fast enough.”
“It’s about providing the right economic package for workers in those industries that are changing due to climate.
“We are calling this a just transition. It’s very important that we look after people with changes that are coming.”
He outlined work already being done at a city level to support the Green New Deal, including the City Leap programme, investment in energy infrastructure and water source heat pump being installed in Castle Park.
Proposing her amendment, Denyer, who successfully proposed Bristol declare a climate emergency last year, said: “This amendment seeks to do three main things: First, remove the self-aggrandising guff.
“It’s true, as the original motion says, that a lot depends on national government policies. It’s also true that Bristol is already doing a lot compared to some councils. But there is plenty more that we could be doing.
“We have a great opportunity to make this better.”
Commenting on the Labour motion, Anthony Negus, a Lib Dem councillor for Cotham, said: “There is some stuff in here that’s valid and we would support it, but it is wrapped up in so much guff, you have actually devalued your own motion.
“We will support the amendment because it’s clear what it wants to achieve and it’s not surrounded by guff.”
Steve Smith, a Conservative councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, was damning in his assessment of the Green New Deal, stating his disappointment at a motion that he says “delivers nothing” and accusing Labour of trying to “out green and out left” the Greens.
The Green New Deal was voted through.