Climate experts acknowledge Bristol’s progress but warn pace of change must accelerate
22nd May 2023
The latest report from the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change (BACCC) reviews citywide progress on tackling the climate crisis and concludes that, although there is some positive progress, the city is still way off meeting its 2030 carbon neutral and climate resilient targets.
BACCC is an independent committee which provides expert advice on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate. Their latest report is an assessment of progress against the One City Climate Strategy which was launched by the Environment Board in March 2020, setting out the pathway for the city to reduce carbon emissions and build resilience to a changing climate by 2030.
Dr Jo House and Professor Jim Longhurst, Co-Chairs of BACCC said “There are many encouraging examples of innovative climate action from across the city, such as the creation of Bristol City Leap – which aims to accelerate energy efficiency, district heating and renewable electricity generation, and the Community Climate Action Project – supporting communities to take a leading role in shaping Bristol’s transition to a low carbon and climate resilient city. However, climate change is not slowing down so unless we act collectively and urgently to scale up action in other areas, the ambitions set out will not be met.”
The UK Climate Change Committee is making similar warnings on a national scale, as is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on a global scale. BACCC have made 12 recommendations for the city to help inform policy and move the agenda forward, including analysis of the 2022 heat wave and lessons learnt; the need for more data to assess progress; city-wide climate engagement activity; and the scaling up of successful initiatives such as Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s Climate Action Programme.
According to BACCC, transport is one of the areas with the least progress. They suggest a large well-funded public transport intervention is necessary, as well as further investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, to offer an alternative to the high dependency on private car use. Alongside transport, infrastructure interdependencies is another area lacking in progress, for example, understanding the risk that extreme weather poses to water, sewerage, power distribution, highways, railways and telecommunications.
Councillor Kye Dudd, Co-Chair of the One City Environment Board and Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy says: “Our Labour administration has already invested some £100 million in decarbonisation work since 2016, as we continue to build homes and tackle the climate emergency. Mayor Marvin Rees was right to set up Bristol’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change to independently scrutinise our city’s continued progress towards carbon neutrality.
“It’s reassuring that the report recognises the significance of the £630 million initial planned investment secured through Bristol City Leap’s clean energy partnership to cut energy bills, create jobs, and slash carbon emissions. Clearly similar scales of investment are required across all sectors. As we continue to plant historic numbers of new trees here, Bristol City Leap is an important green shoot of hope both locally, nationally, and internationally. After more than a decade of national austerity, we need meaningful change in the UK and globally to unlock the further finance required for Bristol and other cities to build on our progress in tackling the climate emergency.”
Ann Cousins, Co-Chair of the One City Environment Board said “The Environment Board welcomes this review of the One City Climate Strategy and acknowledges that faster progress is needed to respond to the climate emergency. The council cannot progress this agenda alone; addressing the climate emergency needs the innovation, capacity and resources of the wider city and beyond to work collaboratively towards a more sustainable city.”
There are many ways to contribute to Bristol’s climate action and plenty of support available. Find out more about how you can play your part whether as an individual, as part of a business, or through your community on Bristol’s Climate Hub website.