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How will Bristol Mayoral candidates respond to the climate and ecological emergencies?


At our Bristol Mayoral hustings on Tuesday 27 April, the four main party candidates* answered your questions on important ways to tackle to the climate and ecological emergencies in a fair and fast way.

Ambitious action needed

Bristol is the first city in the UK to declare both climate and ecological emergencies – with an ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 and to restore nature for wildlife and people to thrive together.

The Bristol Mayor leads the council and councillors and has decision-making powers for the city. They also represent the city at a national and international level, and work closely with the West of England Metro Mayor. They have a unique opportunity to lead the city in its urgent response to these emergencies and accelerate progress in a way that involves and benefits all communities.

We questioned the candidates on how seriously they will take action on climate change and address the ecological emergency.

The candidates taking part in the hustings were Alistair Watson for the Conservatives, Caroline Gooch with the Liberal Democrats, Marvin Rees for Labour, and Sandy Hore-Ruthven with the Green Party.

First steps on the carbon neutral journey

The candidates were invited to set out two key initiatives they would deliver to achieve Bristol’s carbon neutral 2030 goal and wildlife restoration targets.

  • Alistair Watson said he would prioritise action on transport and buildings. He wants to lay the foundations for a low carbon building strategy as a longer term goal.
  • Caroline Gooch talked about focusing on reducing the number of local car journeys being made, and redirecting road building funds into making segregated cycle lanes on all main routes into the city. Longer term, she wants to build a tidal generator in Bristol.
  • Marvin Rees wants to deliver decarbonised energy and heat within the city, and a mass transit system. He would continue with the One City approach.
  • Sandy Hore-Ruthven said he would insulate all council houses, and work with the WECA Mayor to repurpose the road budget for investing in public transport and active travel infrastructure.

The audience were asked ‘Do the initiatives proposed go far enough or fast enough to deliver on our cities’ ambitions?’

Bristol mayoral poll on their vision

Questioning candidates’ commitment on climate action

We also asked questions on issues related to air quality, green spaces, housing, inequalities and transport:

  • What are your plans for enhancing biodiversity and restoring nature in Bristol?
  • As Mayor of Bristol, how would you balance the need for of housing and development with the need to protect green spaces for wildlife to flourish and for the residents of Bristol to benefit from?
  • Do you accept that transport’s carbon emissions are higher than any other sector, and within the powers you would have as mayor what quick-delivery measures would you use to help reduce emissions to meet the 2030 target?
  • Can you tell us about how you will make sure that the voices of those disproportionately affected by environmental inequalities, such as poor air quality, have an opportunity to influence decisions and enact solutions in Bristol?
  • How will you enable Bristol to go further than our ambition to become a Gold Sustainable Food City and create more localised food systems that reduce emissions, food waste, and increase biodiversity as part of the city’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030?
  • In view of Bristol’s commitment to become carbon neutral, what actions will you take to drive energy efficiency in Bristol’s (private-owned, private-rented and social) old housing stock (and how will it be funded)?
  • What are the candidates’ views on the expansion of Bristol Airport (although noting that this falls outside the Bristol Mayor’s jurisdiction)?

Delve even deeper

  • Listen again to the Black & Green Ambassadors radio show. In their election special they spoke with all 8 Bristol mayoral candidates to get to know them, what they have in common and what sets them apart in their plans to make life in Bristol better whilst addressing the twin emergencies. Search for their show from Thursday 29 April.
  • Read more about the candidates on their websites:
  • Watch the recording of our WECA Metro mayoral hustings event from Monday 19 April.

Thank you to all the Bristol mayoral candidates who took part and our host Mohammed Saddiq, Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership Board and Executive Director of Operations, Wessex Water.

This politically neutral event was organised by Bristol Green Capital Partnership, in collaboration Avon Wildlife Trust, Black & Green Ambassadors, Bristol Food Network, Eastside Community Trust, Friends of the Earth, Sustrans and Extinction Rebellion.

Don’t forget to vote on 6 May!

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*Participation in the hustings was limited to those parties or individuals represented in the highest five positions of the 2016 Bristol Mayor election vote share to ensure adequate for each candidate to answer questions and a reasonable opportunity to respond to points raised by other candidates. This decision is based on guidance from the Electoral Commission in relation to the running of time limited non-selective hustings.

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