Today’s guest blog is by Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet lead for Energy, Transport and Green New Deal.
Last week, I visited Thrive Renewables’ Wind Farm in Avonmouth to celebrate their 25th birthday and I also launched the City Leap prospectus: recognising the history of renewables in Bristol and taking a massive step forward for delivering a decarbonised energy system for Bristol. This is a world first. We are seeking £1 billion of investment to lead the way on carbon reduction, to help enable Bristol to be the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2030.
Bristol has always been at the cutting edge of environmentalism, and we’re proud to carry on this tradition. We were one of the first cities to own a wind turbine or an energy company, and were the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency. Marvin has taken telling the truth on the dire global environmental straits which we face to the national stage, winning the support of 435 councils across the country both for the climate emergency declaration and for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – which will see us continue to prioritise delivering social justice and environmental justice hand-in-hand.
Friday 20th will see a national climate strike, and we are expecting demonstrations in Bristol to show solidarity with youth climate strikers, demand climate action from central government. As a trade unionist I know the importance of standing up and taking action when change is necessary. As it happens on the morning of the 20th I will be holding a gate meeting at a delivery office to encourage workers in Royal Mail to vote yes to take strike action in the forthcoming national industrial action ballot that the CWU has called.
Although protest has a place in raising awareness, it won’t deliver the solutions the climate crisis needs. Where Labour is in power, our focus is on action now. Just in the last fortnight or so this Labour council has signed off an extra £7 million investment to progress world-leading new technology in the city which cuts energy bills and carbon emissions. We are busy delivering low-carbon heat networks in Bristol – including a new low-carbon water source heat pump in the Floating Harbour.
Also last week, as the UK’s first council cabinet member for the Green New Deal, I was proud to move and support our motion backing the campaign to radically transform and clean up our economy. And in the council chamber I was proud to highlight the need not only for hundreds of thousands of green new jobs but also the just transition for workers. That means skills programmes together with the investment which both people and planet need to survive and thrive in the future.
A practical example of this would mean retraining gas fitters in engineering heat pumps and other green technology. How we engage with workers in jobs at risk from climate change, the need to tackle climate change and automation is extremely important. The Green New Deal is about offering the right economic and skills package to support the current workforce and the future workforce. It is also about looking at world of work and the time spent at work with policies like a four day working week – bringing people with us, rather than blaming them for the jobs they do. The way we tackle this is through the right national regulations, taxes, and incentives, engaging throughout with workers and their representatives, enabling people struggling to make ends meet to make greener choices.
As I said in the chamber, this is not just a nice thing to do, or the right thing to do, but key to delivering our objective. Because if you don’t bring people with you on this journey, they’re against you, which makes delivering carbon neutrality almost impossible to achieve. We need take action to make the transition to a greener economy a just one that puts working people at its heart.