Green councillors have welcomed the first steps at Bristol Council towards work for Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030. Work began after a Council motion by Green Councillor Carla Denyer passed in November last year, and Greens are now working with other parties to identify policies with cross-party support, that can be pushed forward. Meanwhile the Council has commissioned a study to assess how much more the city needs to do to reach the 2030 target, and the Mayor is due to present a report back to Full Council in July.
A Green amendment to the council budget, passed in February, enables some initial action towards the new target by levying fines on commercial landlords with energy-inefficient buildings. The funds raised will be used to develop the city’s carbon neutrality action plan and providing funding for small community energy generation and energy efficiency schemes, as well as funding local street improvements (paying for a crackdown on fly-tipping and street flooding).
Green councillors highlighted some actions that could help Bristol reach carbon neutrality in their ‘Change Starts Now’ report released in January. They say these are common sense, effective ideas drawn from experience elsewhere, which could be good for Bristol as well as good for the climate, improving quality of life as well as reducing carbon emissions. Some of the key ideas include: developing renewable energy sources in the region, building and refitting much more carbon-neutral housing, and changing transport policy to prioritise public transport, walking and cycling.
Green group leader councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“The Mayor committed himself to the target of achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2030 when he voted for the Green Climate Emergency motion back in November, now there is an urgent need to turn those words into real action. Since we passed the motion over 70 authorities in the UK have followed Bristol’s example, including London. We know that 2030 is an ambitious target, but we have to be bold and not delay to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown.
“Councillors of all parties supported the 2030 motion, and there is a strong mood of co-operation in the cross-party working group, so I am cautiously optimistic about the way things are going. However, I would say to all the campaigners – the protesters, the letter writers, the petitioners and the climate strikers – your work is not yet done. Reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 is going to take some big changes, and not all politicians will have the courage for that. We need you to keep the pressure on – and Greens will do the same from inside the council.”
Green candidate for Bristol Mayor, Sandy Hore-Ruthven, added:
“We can see the difference Bristol’s Green Councillors make, in the way they have taken the lead on the climate emergency. With unanimous political support across parties we have the opportunity to take bold action that will put Bristol at the forefront of tackling climate change. Our children are demanding it and our city leaders must show they are willing to take action.”