Your say / Bristol Green Capital Partnership

‘A collective and inclusive response to climate change threat is essential’

By lizzi testani and ian townsend, Thursday Oct 3, 2019

The Bristol Green Capital Partnership team is often asked what it is about this city that makes it such an environmental sustainability leader. They would like to understand what single special ingredient is needed to do the same in their cities, but the reality is that the recipe is complex and hard to recreate.

One essential ingredient is a strong partnership-working approach: Bristol’s instinct for collaboration is one of its unique characteristics.

You may have heard of the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’, with its fictional superheroes coming together and uniting their individual special powers to address existential threats to people and planet.

In Bristol, we have our own constellation of real-life superheroes – the businesses, organisations and individuals that make up its ‘environmental sustainability universe’ – that for many years have been collectively working towards a sustainable, carbon-neutral city with a high quality of life for all.

The environment and the need for an urgent response to the climate emergency and the closely-related ecological emergency which threaten humanity’s existence has arguably never been higher in minds than it is today.

In November 2018, drawing on new scientific evidence, Bristol’s pledge at the Paris climate talks to be a carbon neutral city by 2050 was dramatically advanced to 2030 through the first local authority climate emergency motion in the UK: a “game-changer” as we said at the time.

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

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This scale of ambition means seeking common goals and involving every business, every organisation, every community, every citizen in a collective endeavour to effectively remove greenhouse gases from their activity in a little over a decade and to adapt to the changes that are already happening. A collective and inclusive response to this existential endeavour is therefore essential.

Since 2007, Bristol Green Capital Partnership has been a key part of the city’s environmental sustainability universe. Our huge thanks go out to our member organisations and individuals that have led action, each bringing their own special powers, their energy, expertise, enthusiasm – and too often with limited resource.

Continuing to offer a unique space for our city’s environmental sustainability superheroes to bring their special powers will be vital for addressing the climate and ecological emergency: to originate and mutually support innovative projects, to encourage others by amplifying successes and sharing learnings, and to influence policies towards making doing sustainability in the city easier.

The partnership is a broad church. Thanks to our financially-supporting members, joining the partnership is free, making it easy to get involved. If your business or organisation is not already a member, do consider joining. If yours is a member already, consider what you can do to get more involved.

Responding to the challenge also presents opportunities. There is potential for improved health and happiness for citizens; high‑quality housing that is inexpensive to keep warm; nature-based solutions that enhance biodiversity and improve mental and physical health; and the increased prosperity from the economic opportunities and development of new skills that rapid decarbonisation will need.

Making the most of these ‘co-benefits’ of Bristol’s climate and ecological emergency response means working together with wider partners. The One City approach has real potential to help by bringing all these themes together.

Involving Bristol’s diverse communities – of people, place, purpose and practice – will be critical.

Bristol Green Capital Partnership has adopted environmental equality as a strategic priority, with an initial focus on the city’s Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. And we are working with members and others in the city and beyond to create opportunities for involvement, and the resources needed to support this. If your business or organisation support this, please do let us know.

Working together in a partnership, we can make the most of everyone’s superhero powers to realise a bright, sustainable carbon-neutral future with a high quality of life for all of Bristol’s citizens and communities.

Lizzi Testani and Ian Townsend say partnership working is key

Lizzi Testani and Ian Townsend are the incoming and outgoing leads of Bristol Green Capital Partnership, a community interest company that supports more than 900 member businesses and organisations.

Find out more and join at www.bristolgreencapital.org.

Read more: ‘Young people are an intimidating presence on the heels of every world leader’

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