The Partnership commits to championing a just transition
16th January 2023
Bristol Green Capital Partnership has published a statement of intent outlining our commitment to a just transition. In this blog post, Amy Harrison (Head of Community Partnerships) and Clara Fung (Project Coordinator), outline why this feels so important to the Partnership’s activities and strategy, and to Bristol’s climate and nature ambitions.
Bristol Green Capital Partnership is kicking off 2023 by publishing a statement of intent demonstrating our commitment to a just transition. The Partnership’s recently updated vision is for a “zero carbon, socially just Bristol where all our communities and nature thrive”. This emphasises the important interconnections between climate and nature action and social justice, and the need to tackle them together.
We strongly believe that the transition to decarbonise Bristol and beyond needs to happen equitably, in a way that improves rather than worsens inequalities, that doesn’t expect those least responsible for carbon emissions to make the biggest sacrifices, and which creates new opportunities that improve the quality of life for people locally and globally. This view has been strengthened by the last two years coordinating the Community Climate Action Project with diverse community partners.
Some important drivers for our position on a just transition are:
Bristol is not an equal city. Average life expectancy of residents living in economically poorer parts of the city are 10 years lower than in other more affluent areas.
- The environment, climate and sustainability sector is one of the least diverse in the country. It is not representative of our Bristol communities or the national population.
- (At the time of writing) the UK is experiencing a cost of living and energy crisis which is compounding existing inequality and negatively impacting people’s lives, livelihoods and wellbeing.
- Our work with city partners has highlighted the exclusion of particular communities from the climate conversation (eg. Disabled community, Black people and people of colour (BPOC), refugee community).
- The youngest and oldest in our society are likely to be more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.
- The transition to net zero will create many opportunities (eg. significant numbers of new green economy jobs) that have the potential to improve the quality of life for local people.
To achieve a just transition the Partnership believes it is important to interconnect climate action and social justice
ambitions, both on the ground and at a strategic level. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, for example:
- Insulating housing stock reduces energy poverty and provides a healthier living environment – this can be especially important for members of the Disabled community.
- Easy access to quality green and growing spaces and nature improves mental and physical health and reduces social isolation and food poverty, particularly for older people and the refugee community.
- Encouraging safe, active travel reduces air pollution, improves health and reduces transport costs for families living on lower incomes.
- Creating quality, new green jobs for young people severely impacted by the pandemic, provides career and social mobility opportunities for the next generation.
The Partnership staff and directors acknowledge we’re not experts in just transition, but we are committed to developing our knowledge and understanding and prioritising a just transition in the development of our future programmes, events, partnerships, fundraising and strategic collaborations. Just transition will be an area of active learning for us, we know we won’t always get it right and will be actively open to feedback. However, we are committed to sharing our learning honestly and openly with our members, networks and partners both locally and nationally.
Moving from talk to action
So how will we make sure we are moving from talking about a just transition to proactively taking action on this important issue and encouraging others to do so?
Just transition will be threaded through all aspects of organisational development, including our rebrand, Theory of Change and strategic business planning. We will create a new community leadership panel on climate and just transition for the city as part of our Community Climate Action Project, encourage businesses to consider just transition principles as part of our Climate Action Programme, and build on the learnings from the last two years of the Black and Green Ambassador programme.
If you or your organisation is thinking about or prioritising a just transition do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and explore partnership possibilities.
In June 2023 we will hosting a just transition themed city gathering, so keep an eye on our comms channels to hear more.