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Creating a Movement: Bristol’s Decade of Transformation


Max Boon is a Senior Account Manager at Greenhouse PR, a communications agency dedicated to creating positive social and environmental change. He attended the Partnership Gathering Bristol’s Decade of Transformation on 15 January, and shared his reflections in the blog post below. Find out more about Greenhouse PR on their website or follow them on Twitter.

Leaving Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s Decade of Transformation event I felt hopeful. I felt scared. I felt optimistic. I felt angry. I felt empowered.

The facts were laid out. The scale of the challenge we face in Bristol was made clear. The impacts of the climate crisis on us, our children and our city are frightening but the opportunity for change is vast.

Bristol has set the ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, twenty years before the national target, and that puts us in a fantastic position to become an epicentre for change. To discover new approaches, create a movement and share that ambition for the world to follow.

But this is not going to be easy and we have no time to waste. 2030 suddenly feels a lot closer now than it did last year.

The event started with a healthy dose of reality. We heard from Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on the importance of calm heads and concerted action, the sweeping changes we will see and the need to bring people together in the movement.

We heard from Bristol Green Capital Partnership Director Manu Maunganidze on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion and how our scientific focus must be matched with a social conscience.

Ian Barrett of Avon Wildlife Trust spoke of the twin emergencies of the climate crisis and the ecological crisis and the numbers presented were terrifying. Since 1970 we have lost 60% of our wild vertebrates, 83% of freshwater wildlife and 50% of our marine population.

But that is just the start. Even if we are to achieve our best-case scenario of keeping temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, then we will still lose 20 – 30% of the species on Earth.

Finally, we heard about the scale of the challenge closer to home, as Simon Roberts from the Centre of Sustainable Energy, and Damien Canning and Sophie England from Arup, explained the changes necessary for Bristol to meet net-zero and the impacts we could feel from climate breakdown as a city – with drought, extreme heat and flooding becoming far more common.

This was the first time I’d heard these impacts first-hand and it served to highlight the urgency of the problem on a local, national and global level.

Meetings and discussions on the climate crisis can only take us so far. With a decade to go, it is time for action.

That was the focus of the final section of the event as we collaborated in groups to identify the different solutions we must find in Bristol to reduce our emissions across a range of topics and sectors, including electricity, heat, transport, food and much more.

These suggestions will now be fed into the development of the One City Climate Strategy which is due to be signed off by Bristol’s Environmental Sustainability Board by the end of February.

The room felt like a microcosm of the society we need to create to achieve net zero by 2030. It requires a war-like response, with the public collaborating with business and decision-makers to create a seismic shift.

This is how change happens.

Be part of it. Take action to make your organisation greener. Share your work, contribute to the discussion and communicate it to the city and beyond and inspire others to do the same.

This is not going to be easy. But we must find a way. Bristol is uniquely placed to do so and Bristol Green Capital Partnership is a perfect community to help enable that change.

I’m reading ‘We are the Weather’ by Jonathan Safran Foer at the moment and will finish with a line from him:

“Our decisions will determine not only how future generations will evaluate us but whether they will exist to evaluate us at all.”

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