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Showcasing Bristol’s progress on climate action

Showcasing Bristol’s progress on climate action

Bristol’s approach to meeting the city’s climate goals has been welcomed at a national level following a visit by the independent UK Climate Change Committee.

a view of bristol with city hall in the foregound

Members of the committee met with Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol on Thursday 17 March, and were introduced to the levels of action being taken in the city, ranging from the delivery of large-scale infrastructure to locally focussed community work aimed at supporting neighbourhoods to tackle climate change.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the committee to the city to demonstrate the approach we’re taking to meeting our climate challenge. Bristol is a city that recognises the need for systemic change in the way we deliver energy, travel and source our food whilst also needing to ensure communities are partners in that change and are not left behind by its consequences. By marrying up our large-scale investment with community level support we aim to deliver the right actions, at the appropriate scale to make a tangible, and substantial, difference to our city’s climate footprint.”

Professor Piers Forster, Member of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate and Professor of Physical Climate Change at the University of Leeds, said: “As part of our national Climate Conversation, we at the Climate Change Committee have been visiting a range of UK cities and regions in recent weeks. Last week we were in Bristol to hear about progress in reducing the city’s emissions alongside action to build climate resilience. We’ve been listening and learning, aiming to find out more about the challenges and successes of the Net Zero, climate resilient transition – what’s working well, what isn’t and why? What we’re seeing up and down the country will help to inform our advice to Government.

“Our visit to Bristol has been both encouraging and enlightening – showing the importance of people and place in meeting our national climate targets. It’s clear from those that we’ve met here that Net Zero is firmly on the agenda and the council’s focus on partnership is beginning to unlock the finance and public will to deliver a fair transition.”

Professor Forster also shared that more needed to be done when developing national policy, to better consider those who will be impacted by decisions. He added: “Representatives from Bristol’s Community Climate Action programme highlighted that there are communities, such as those with disabilities and living in deprived areas, who are impacted by climate policies at a national and local level. Steps need to be taken to consider them from the start: they have great ideas to offer the country and we should use them.”

Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience and Flood Strategy, said: “We each have a role to play in fighting back against climate change and the emergency we find ourselves in. From individual households through to city leaders and national governments, there are things we can each do, that can have a tangible impact. We’re working with city partners and businesses on one level to deliver the fabric the city requires to embed systems that will support sustainable and inclusive growth. On the other, we’re supporting communities to work with families and individuals to identify and prioritise local needs to find solutions that ensure no neighbourhood gets left behind.”

During the visit, the team were treated to a tour of the Castle Park Energy Centre, England’s largest water source heat pump. The new water source heat pump takes water from the nearby floating harbour, extracts the heat and uses it to provide low-carbon heat and hot water for local businesses and residents. It's planned that the energy centre will also provide low-cost, sustainable heat to a proposed new development of 200 properties on top of the centre, 40 percent of which will be affordable homes. 

In addition to seeing the investment being made in delivering sustainable, low-impact infrastructure, members of the committee we’re introduced to the delivery happening at a neighbourhood level through the city’s first round of community climate action plans. 

These plans, developed by six community organisations from some of Bristol’s most disadvantaged communities identify key priorities which will help those areas deliver the city’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. Work to develop the plans was undertaken during 2021 with a focus on understanding the needs of local people in areas such as transport, energy, food, waste, nature, buildings, jobs/economy and inequality. The plans produced provide the blueprints for ensuring the most disadvantaged communities can significantly contribute to the city’s climate challenge in a way that sees them benefit as much as any other area of the city.

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