This year’s European Green Capital – Bristol, UK – has pledged to accelerate its already ambitious targets and pursue carbon neutrality by 2050. Mayor George Ferguson made the commitment alongside local political group leaders following the city’s role co-hosting the Cities and Regions Pavilion at the COP21 climate talks in Paris.
Bristol has so far reduced carbon emissions per person by 24% since 2005 and under its most recent climate strategy the mayor committed to future CO2 reductions of 40% by 2020, 50% by 2025, 60% by 2035 and 80% by 2050. Now, inspired by other cities and what is required to deliver the agreement at COP21 he now seeks to update the target to 100% by 2050.
Bristol is a member of the Compact of Mayors, launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Michael R. Bloomberg. It is the world’s largest global collective effort to date by cities to tackle climate change, proactively prepare for its impacts, and regularly track and feedback on progress. Bristol is also a signatory to several climate pledges, including two issued during COP21 – the Paris City Hall Declaration and the ‘Under2’ Memorandum of Understanding.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “Cities and regions played a major role at COP21, marking the first time they’ve been included at the event. In recent years whilst nations have talked, cities and regions have acted. We pledged to do all we can to pursue a future where unavoidable climate temperature increases are limited to no more than two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. We made this pledge at a time when the outcome of COP was unclear, but now the world’s nations have reached their historic agreement there’s an even better chance of success.
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“To succeed requires greater ambition, investment and dedication across all sectors. Bristol is once again taking a lead amongst UK cities. We are saying we shall take on board what has been agreed at COP21, we shall accelerate our ambition and work with partners at home, abroad and across any and all sectors to try and achieve our goals.
“When it comes to climate change we are a politically united city. Also our Green Capital Partnership includes over 850 member organisations, a key element of the city’s success as European Green Capital this year, and crucial to the success of our new carbon zero target date of 2050. Working with them, with our dedicated Energy and Futures services, with our international networks and many others, I am sure we can rise to the challenge.”
Bristol City Council itself is working towards a new 50% reduction target for its own emissions by 2020 after meeting its 40% goal five years early. It has also made large strides in renewable energy. In a few years, it is forecast to produce 1GW of electricity from solar panels. Since 2005, Bristol has reduced energy use by 18%.
Cllr Helen Holland, Leader of the Labour group on Bristol City Council said: “It was a Labour-led Council that first applied to Europe for our city to be European Green Capital, so I am delighted to take part in this pledge to commit Bristol to become a Carbon Free City by 2050. This ambitious commitment will have to be matched by bold actions, but I am sure that everyone – residents, community organisations, business – will all play their part in helping Bristol meet that challenge, joining worldwide efforts to rescue our planet.”
Cllr Mark Weston, Leader of the Conservative group on Bristol City Council said: “My group is supportive of efforts to move to a lower carbon economy as we end energy generation from high carbon fuels such as coal. We need a diverse energy mix including both renewables and nuclear generation. We would urge city planners to look carefully at how we can both reduce energy usage and improve micro generation in the future as we rise to meet the challenges ahead.”
Cllr Ani Stafford-Townsend, Leader of the Green group on Bristol City Council said: “Greens have been campaigning for decades on carbon reduction to avoid devastating climate change. In 2006 Cllr Charlie Bolton used his first motion as councillor to call for more ambitious carbon reduction targets. We welcome the firm commitment for Bristol to lead the way and become carbon neutral by 2050. We have the technology and vision to tackle the greatest challenge of our generation, all we need now is the political will from across the board to make zero carbon Bristol a reality.”
Cllr Gary Hopkins, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Bristol City Council said: “Bristol has for many years been leading the way and should sign up to ambitious targets. Declarations though must be matched by actions. The Liberal Democrats would look to get to grips with our public transport by investing in urban rail and bus services and ensuring the highest environmental standards, we would prioritise sorting out waste and importantly, would prioritise investment into the hydrogen economy.”