Council urged to respond to climate emergency

January 24 2019
Council urged to respond to climate emergency

COUNCILLORS from Bristol’s Green Party have launched a report outlining the action needed for Bristol to meet its new commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

In November, councillors from all parties in Bristol supported a Green Party motion put by Councillor Carla Denyer to announce a climate emergency and pledge to make Bristol carbon neutral by 2030 - the most ambitious target of all UK core cities.

Following this, Bristol’s Mayor was tasked with developing an action plan within six months to respond to the emergency, and all political parties were invited to contribute ideas for measures which might move the city towards this goal.

Green Party councillors developed their work into a report, entitled Change Starts Now,  that outlines the first steps Bristol City Council needs to take. Among other ideas, this report highlights the urgent need for all parts of the council to factor in the need to reduce carbon emissions in every decision, whether on housing or transport or parks or any other area of the council’s work.

 Bristol’s climate pledge follows the recent announcement from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  that humanity has just 12 years to take emergency action to prevent global warming greater than 1.5°C. Sir David Attenborough called the emergency the greatest threat in thousands of years, warning that inaction will lead to the collapse of civilisation and the extinction of much of the natural world.

A cross-party group has been formed to oversee and support the council’s progress, with members including local councillors from our area: Eleanor Combley (Green, Bishopston and Ashley Down), Tom Brook (Labour, Bishopston and Ashley Down), Claire Hiscott (Conservative, Horfield) and Anthony Negus (Liberal Democrat, Cotham).

 Eleanor Combley, Leader of the Bristol Green Party councillor group, said: “The scientists have done their job by telling us of the risks of floods, droughts and extreme heat and the increase in poverty, conflict and migration this will cause. Now it’s time for our politicians to respond.

“History will not judge inaction kindly. I’m proud that Bristol’s councillors from all parties have come together to vote for Bristol to have the most ambitious climate change targets of all the UK core cities. We now need these promises to be turned into action, and our Change Starts Now report showcases some of the inspiring action cities across the country and the world are taking to respond to the climate emergency, as well as the extensive work already being done across Bristol.

“The Mayor committed himself to the target of achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2030 when he voted for the Green Climate Emergency motion back in November, now there is an urgent need to turn those words into real action. We know that this is an ambitious target, but we also know that this is what we need to do to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown. 

Councillors of all parties supported that motion, so it should be possible for us all to work together to take action towards that target.

“Residents can be rest assured that we will continue to drive forward this work and be there to hold the Mayor to account if he does not honour the commitment he made.”

Bishopston Labour councillor, Tom Brook commented: “I’m really excited to be part of this group. Clearly this is not something that the council can achieve alone, but councillors are in a unique position to help drive the change.

" I’m delighted that this Labour administration is grabbing the bull by the horns to achieve the goal, and is involving all political parties in the discussion to ensure as many ideas as possible are taken on board.

“Mayor Marvin Rees has recently launched Bristol’s One City Plan, which brings together key organisations across the city; public, private and third sector. This innovative approach will mean that we can drive forward key changes such as the carbon neutral target in a collaborative, co-operative way across the city.

 “We should be clear that achieving our 2030 carbon neutral target is going to be extremely hard, possibly the hardest thing we will have ever achieved as a city, but it is absolutely necessary if we are to do our duties to the environment and to achieving social justice.”

A report back to Full Council covering the initial steps and plans for action is due in May, as defined by the original motion. However, as the May meeting is also the AGM and Lord Mayor-making ceremony, Cllr Combley expects that it will get presented at the July meeting instead.