Your say / climate emergency

‘Bristol’s One City Climate Strategy is a big, bold and vital call for action’

By ben ross, Tuesday Mar 3, 2020

The Bristol Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) has unveiled the new One City Climate Strategy, setting out a clear pathway of action on how Bristol can become climate neutral and climate resilient by 2030.

The strategy looks at how we can accelerate climate action in the next few years, identifying opportunities for investment and job creation, as well as looking at redevelopments within the city. As a member of the ESB, I’m proud of the strategy and to have played my part in its development. At over 70 pages, I appreciate there’s a lot to digest, but we live in a complex city and we felt this was an appropriate balance, providing context, clarity and detail, and a framework to plan and deliver.

The strategy is big, bold and evidence-based, and includes all greenhouse gas emissions. When you consider what we, as individuals and collectively as a city, are responsible for, we have to tackle the broadest possible set of activities and decisions, from heating our homes and fuelling our cars to ‘scope 3’ emissions created from supply chains. Think the fossil fuels required to power the factory to make the widgets for our white goods or get that airplane off the ground, or the emissions from high intensity farming or burping cows! It also looks at the changes to our climate that are already underway and how we can create a resilient city that’s able to weather the storm and adapt over time.

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A lot of this is defined by the system we live within that’s been built up over hundreds of years. But it’s really since the start of the industrial revolution, when we realised and started harnessing the incredibly high energy value of fossil fuels that this has rapidly accelerated. There are six key enablers for change identified, from finance to skills, but it’s engagement, culture and inclusion that I’m really fascinated by. We can only make this journey if we do it together, and there are opportunities to address issues such as fuel poverty along the way.

 

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Bristol has already shown good momentum in reducing direct carbon emissions by 36 percent between 2005 and 2017, but this needs to increase if we are to meet our 2030 goal. Last year, Bristol City Council became the first local authority in the UK to declare a climate emergency, and only last month, an ecological emergency was declared. Having defined the strategy we now really need to come together to deliver.

As the city’s local energy supplier, Bristol Energy will have a key role to play in helping Bristol achieve its decarbonisation targets. We’re already making moves to innovate at a local and national level to help reach these ambitious environmental and social goals. We’re exploring a range of projects, from retailing renewable heat, integrating electric vehicle networks, providing businesses with energy efficiency audits and helping organisations integrate battery storage. In the future, we want to offer our customers tailored energy services that can help them on their journey to net zero.

Many Bristol businesses are already doing their bit by switching their energy supply. We The Curious, Avon Fire and Rescue, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste all use Bristol Energy’s 100 percent renewable energy. Together, they have so far saved cut the same amount of carbon as taking 8,000 cars off the road. This equates to over 12,000 tonnes of carbon saved or the carbon absorption of over six million full grown trees over one year.

And individually, we’re pleased to see the organisations making green choices and doing their bit. For example, Avon Fire and Rescue Service has made great progress in reducing their carbon footprint by nearly 60 percent since 2008, while in an example of the circular economy the biogas they use is produced at the anaerobic digestion plant based in Avonmouth where they send their fire stations’ food waste.

From my perspective, it’s clear that having defined the strategy we now really need to come together to deliver. There’s no single owner nor specific leader but I call out to all leaders and change makers to see what this means for you, and to work out how to deliver the future we want to achieve.

Ben Ross is partnerships manager at Bristol Energy and a member of the One City Environmental Sustainability Board.

Main photo by Chris Bahn

Read more: Bristol’s first citywide climate strategy published

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