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Bristol and Paris call on cities to take action at international climate summit


Bristol has teamed up with the City of Paris and the international local government sustainability network, ICLEI, to co-host the presence of the world’s cities and regions at global climate talks next week.

Cities & Regions Pavilion

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, which will be attended by most major world leaders, Bristol is co-hosting the Cities and Regions Pavilion to show how cities can have a wider influence in the climate debate, deliver real change at a local level and attract investment for future actions to tackle environmental problems.

The Pavilion, hosted by Paris and Bristol and facilitated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability with support of over 40 partners, will be the central point for cities and regions at COP21 as they demonstrate a commitment to improving the liveability of their territories and playing a part in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. While the nations, the negotiating “parties” at the conference, will be discussing the details of the climate agreement, the cities and regions will discuss how to mobilise resources and implement commitments that immediately raise global climate ambitions.

Pavilion-Program-Booklet_coverAs part of Bristol’s year holding the prestigious title of European Green Capital, it will take to the world stage, sharing the city’s learning, experiences and challenges with delegates during a dedicated ‘Bristol Session’ on Tuesday 1 December. Later that day it will also host a panel debate involving Mayors of past, present and future European Green Capitals, to be chaired by Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Environment, Daniel Calleja. You can view a timetable of Bristol activities and engagements here.

Bristol will use the event to unveil its own plans to build on its successes as Green Capital and a recent bid to become the European Capital of Innovation in 2016.

This includes a proposal for a £700m investment making the city’s buildings more energy efficient, and a new approach to the future planning of cities to explore and develop smarter infrastructure. The proposed ‘Bristol Brain’ will project real-time data onto a 3D physical model to allow citizens and planners to break down silos and explore the impacts of new developments. It could be used to illustrate real-time energy use of buildings, the flow of traffic and pedestrians through the city, the haze of air pollution or a line that rises to show different future scenarios from flooding.

Bristol Projects

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, will be leading a session in Paris on Bristol’s experiences and aiming to inspire other cities around the world to become vital players, strengthening local and regional governments as central to successful long-term climate action.

He said: “Bristol is a complex, adventurous and highly creative city of artists and innovators, people who like to do things differently. It is a liveable city with a determination to improve the environment, health, happiness and wellbeing of its citizens. We are noted for our sense of fun, matched with a determination to make life better and show the world the massive difference cities can make in creating a low carbon, sustainable future.

Bristol is one of 88 cities and regions in 42 countries to present innovative projects aimed at placing local and regional governments at the heart of positive and long-term climate action. At the Cities and Regions Pavilion in Le Bourget, Bristol will pitch two projects on energy efficiency and smarter future planning of cities to an audience of multilateral development agencies and public financial institutions. Bristol’s two action projects will join over 120 on display in Paris as part of ICLEI’s Transformative Action Programme (TAP), a 10-year initiative that aims to identify projects with the most potential to transform the lives of their citizens. The critical next step is to ensure these projects receive adequate financial resources to address urgent and evolving local needs to create a sustainable future.

The first proposal, entitled ‘Energy efficiency for everyone’ (or Bristol Billion), is for a $1B (or £700m) investment making Bristol’s buildings more energy efficient to achieve significant carbon and energy savings. It will involve refurbishing 56,000 homes in Bristol – 30% of the city – to lift them out of fuel poverty and reduce health costs.

The second project in the making, the ‘Bristol Brain’, seeks to reimagine how citizens and planners can work together to shape a sustainable future for the city. The aim is to create a physical and digital city model, on top of which, real-time data and sophisticated analytics can be projected and visualised, creating environments that can be explored through virtual and augmented reality. This will allow different scenarios for future developments to be explored as if they are real, and for the impact on energy, transport, air quality and other factors, to be fully understood.

“Cutting-edge projects such as the ‘Bristol Brain’ have already been identified as having outstanding transformative potential, which is why we’ve been invited to lead the way with the City of Paris to demonstrate how cities can transform communities whilst contributing to the UN global climate change goals and beyond.”

shaun_in_circle_0The award-winning Bristol 2015 European Green Capital education programme for primary schools will be in the spotlight in Paris. It incorporates sustainability workshops which have reached 13,500 primary pupils over the past year, encouraging them to think about how to create a more eco-friendly city by monitoring resources, food, energy, transport and nature. Sustainable Shaun, an online game created by Aardman for the programme, recently won a TIGA Award, a leading industry accolade, for the best ‘Game with a Purpose’ and has now attracted 25,000 players across 145 countries.

The education programme is now going national with a new UK-wide teaching resource, tested and piloted in Bristol, which is designed to put sustainability back in the classroom.

Councillor Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, will be joining the Mayor at COP21. She said: “One of the most important things that Bristol has done during Green Capital year is to produce an environmental education programme for Bristol that is now going national. This will have a lasting impact on future generations, as an understanding of environmental issues is one of the key stages on the road to becoming a truly sustainable city.”

Bristol Green Capital Partnership

Gary Topp, Development Director at the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, is part of the Bristol delegation at COP21. The Community Interest Company is helping to carry forward the legacy of Green Capital year.

He said: “Bristol is a city full of organisations and individuals that have a long history of helping to create and imagine a low carbon city and over 850 organisations are now part of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership. The Partnership is the city wide mechanism for bringing all of this activity together to support, amplify and connect up all of the energy and expertise that resides in our businesses, our community organisations and our two universities. This cross sector and highly collaborative approach will not only help to create a great legacy platform for the European Green Capital award but also places Bristol at the forefront of global city ‘practice’. I am pleased to be able to share this part of the Bristol story at COP21.”

Bristol has a track record of action on climate change and sustainability. The Green Capital award acknowledges the city’s shared ambition and commitment to become a more sustainable place. Over ten years ago the public, private and voluntary sector in Bristol agreed a common goal – to be the Green Capital in Europe and this achievement was the result of many people working in their own areas and collectively, with both small and large initiatives, to make Bristol a greener city.

This year Bristol City Council has hit its 2020 target for carbon reduction five years ahead of schedule, reducing emissions by nearly 40% compared to a 2005 baseline.

As a growing city Bristol has reduced carbon emissions per person by 24% since 2005 and Mayor Ferguson has committed future CO2 reductions of 40% by 2020, 50% by 2025, 60% by 2035 and 80% by 2050 for the city, while the council works to a new 50% reduction target by 2020. A study by the University of Bristol showed achieving these targets over the next 20 years and low carbon investment could generate up to 10,000 jobs and tackle fuel poverty.

Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General, said: “While the negotiations in Paris will hopefully deliver a meaningful agreement, the discussions around the Pavilion, where Bristol is co-hosting with Paris, represent an important constant: cities and regions are ready to act and scale up their efforts now, regardless of the outcomes of the agreement.”


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