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Bristol’s first Community Climate Action Plans launched

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In Bristol, community has been key to so much the city has achieved. It’s people working together that makes real change happen. With community we can achieve great things. Climate action is no exception. 

Over the last year Bristol’s community sector has been pioneering bold and fair community-led climate action. Throughout the pandemic, six community organisations, representing some of Bristol’s most disadvantaged communities, have been busy co-producing the city’s first community climate action plans with and for their communities, as part of our Bristol Community Climate Action project. Demonstrating the leadership role communities are taking in the city’s response to the climate crisis, the plans identify key priorities which will help deliver Bristol’s 2030 carbon neutral ambition, whilst also improving quality of life for local residents, as the city recovers from the pandemic and the country attempts to ‘level up’ inequality.

Bristol communities leading the way on climate change 

Throughout 2021 ACH, Ambition Lawrence Weston, Bristol Disability Equalities Forum, Eastside Community Trust, Heart of BS13 and Lockleaze Neighbourhood led an in-depth community engagement process – working with artists, hosting community meals and presenting radio shows to start accessible climate conversations with their communities. These conversations explored transport, energy, food, waste, nature, buildings, jobs/economy and inequality and enabled each community to create a unique set of climate priorities as part of a comprehensive community plan.

Priorities range from new green jobs for refugees and young people to closed loop food systems that tackle waste and food insecurity; from the generation of community owned renewable energy on local buildings to creating a bespoke ‘Repair Hub’ enabling the community of Disabled people to save money and reduce waste. The project partners now plan to put their priorities into action, showing the contribution communities can make to the city’s climate targets.

We want to ensure that climate action reflects the reality of people’s lives. It’s important that we’re not asking the people who are least responsible for carbon emissions to carry the biggest burden for reducing them. It’s about climate justice – we need to improve people’s quality of life whilst tackling climate change’ Emily Fifield of Eastside Community Trust.

Why is community-led climate action important?  

The climate action taken by individuals and households is critically important, and the actions of governments, business and local authorities too. But the climate crisis can’t be solved without community. Bristol’s community organisations showed real leadership during the pandemic, they proved how essential they are when a city needs to respond to a crisis, and they are also a critical part our city’s response to the climate and ecological crises. The innovative plans cocreated by these communities will help Bristol realise the bold and rapid climate action needed to reach the city’s 2030 net zero target.

 

We are pioneering the way to show that all community work is climate work. We are becoming experts in climate work because the benefits of things like warmer homes, cleaner air, better public transport, access to green jobs and nature are invaluable to our local residents.” Donna Sealey from Ambition Lawrence Weston.

Tackling climate change whilst levelling up  

“Tackling climate change and tackling inequality aren’t mutually exclusive. As we emerge from the pandemic, perhaps the biggest ‘co-benefit’ of addressing climate change could be the opportunity to also address systemic inequity (‘level up’).” Amy Harrison, Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

Climate and quality of life goals can be interwoven, after all:

  • Insulating housing stock reduces energy poverty and provides healthier living environments.
  • Easy access to quality community green and growing space reduces isolation and improves mental and physical health.
  • Encouraging safe active travel and sustainable transport improves health outcomes and reduces dangerous air pollution.
  • New, quality green jobs offer young people post pandemic opportunities and social mobility.

 

Communities like ours, already experiencing financial and social hardships will face even more of an uphill struggle as the climate and ecological emergency unfolds. We know that young people are key to tackling climate change and we want to place them front and centre of climate action, amplifying their voices and connecting them with future opportunities.” Kirsty Hammond, Heart of BS13.

The importance of diversity in climate action  

These ambitious community climate action plans have been developed by neighbourhoods experiencing inequality, along with the communities of Disabled people and Refugees, with the aim of ensuring the city’s response to the climate and nature emergencies improves, rather than worsens, inequality for local people. The communities involved believe that by creating their own community-led plans (rather than having top-down initiatives imposed) the voices and needs of Bristol’s diverse communities will be better represented.

Climate action has a history of creating new barriers for Disabled people and of leaving us out of the conversation. Our plan shows that by including Disabled people there are simple, actionable ways that we can make our cities fairer and better for both the planet and everyone who lives in them.” Emma Geen, Bristol Disability Equalities Forum. 

It is vitally important to involve our clients and service users in the important conversations around climate change. Many in the refugee community have been impacted personally by the real-life impacts of climate change and yet typically they have some of the lowest carbon lifestyles. It’s important to raise awareness of this and ensure we are asking those with the largest carbon footprints to make the biggest changes first.” Katya Thickpenny, ACH.

Working together to reach Bristol’s carbon goals  

The Partnership believes the Community Climate Action project is an opportunity to champion bold community-led climate action, which brings about wider social change and challenges existing inequality by ensuring the voices of Bristol’s most diverse and disadvantaged communities are both heard and help to set the agenda.

 

Although these plans are a brilliant start, it is only through collaboration that the community priorities identified in these new plans will become a reality. If the plans are to succeed, they will need the support of the council, local businesses and organisations.

Bristol has a bold One City Climate Strategy, with ambitious targets for 2030. If we are to reach these targets, we all need to work together – the council, businesses, individuals and of course communities. Community organisations have such an important role to play, and by developing their own Community Climate Action plans, six of Bristol’s communities have identified clear climate priorities which also bring benefits – like saving people money during a cost of living crisis – to local people. We as a council are keen to support these communities as they put their plans into action and champion community-led climate action in the city.” Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, Bristol City Council.

 

Bristol demonstrated ambition and leadership as the first local authority to declare climate and ecological emergencies and develop city strategies in response. So let’s work together to build on that.

We know what role communities can play. What role can you play?

 

Read Bristol’s first Community Climate Action Plans:

You can also watch the recording of the launch event on our YouTube channel.

Community-led climate action
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