The challenge we face decarbonising Bristol and where we are already

Councillor Kye Dudd is pictured, smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy and Labour Councillor for Southmead Ward.

Since we took office, much effort has been put in across Bristol’s communities to ramp up the work to lower our carbon footprint.

Bristol’s journey to becoming climate neutral and climate resilient by 2030 stepped up a notch three years ago, when the ambitious One City Climate Strategy was launched by Bristol’s Environment Board.

Since the council is responsible for just 0.5% of direct emissions in Bristol, to reach the city-wide climate goal, it’s essential that businesses, organisations and individuals also play their part.

To lead by example, the council have taken significant steps to generate the activity needed to reach that goal. Across every sector, and every community, the council, along with partners of all shapes and sizes, are putting in the hard yards needed.

Probably the most significant of those steps so far was the establishment of Bristol City Leap, our partnership with Ameresco and Vattenfall Heat UK, which plans to deliver some £630 million of investment over the next five years to decarbonise the city’s economy. This landmark deal is already seeing the partnership deliver programmes to introduce heat pump technology into homes, expanding the city’s vital heat network and working with the council to continue our success in decarbonising our buildings. By 2028, we expect to see over 1,000 jobs created and 150,000 tonnes of emissions saved, as well as wider social value return. In the longer term, the partnership builds towards £1 billion of investment.

The programme of decarbonising the council has been ongoing throughout our administration. It involves reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings, primarily through either reducing their energy usage or moving to more sustainable forms of electricity and heat supply. It also includes developing our vehicle fleet to ensure that we’re operating in the cleanest way possible.

This programme has seen much success to date with the council’s direct emissions being halved since 2015. We’re now into the phase of the programme that we always knew would be the toughest to deliver and have taken the steps necessary, such as the formation of Bristol City Leap, to have the tools available to meet our target of being a carbon neutral council by the end of 2025.

Later today, I will lay out the challenge ahead of us at the next meeting of the city’s Cabinet.

Our approach to continue the decarbonising of our estate includes prioritising the work to connect council buildings to the city’s heat network, installing alternative low carbon heating sources, moving some buildings onto a “green gas” supply, and increasing the use of electricity generated by the council’s own renewable energy assets.

The effort to develop a lower-emission vehicle fleet is also one we’ve been working to deliver since the early days of the administration. The latest proposals I will consider at Cabinet include recommending up to a £1 million investment in additional electronic vehicle charging infrastructure across five council sites as well as trialling the introduction of home-chargers for drivers of vehicles who take their council vehicles home overnight.

The overall investment required for this work is estimated to be around £31 million and is proposed come from a mix of our own investment, grant funding and the funding secured through Bristol City Leap.

These proposals follow other recent decisions I’ve taken at Cabinet to forward our net zero ambitions for the city.

In July, I approved the acceptance of £1.3 million of European Union funding to establish an innovative approach to generating the additional finance needed for the city to meet its goals. This decision will now see us lead the creation of a Net Zero Investment Co-innovation Lab – a multifaceted project that will research and pilot a number of methods of accessing funding for citizens, business and communities to invest in their projects to reduce emissions and to generate a return. As the programme develops it will bring forward a new scheme for citizen investment in climate action and open opportunities for philanthropic investment in projects all targeted at driving the city towards carbon neutrality.

The decarbonisation of our economy will generate substantial business opportunities and will require all individuals, businesses and organisations to make changes, in the bid to avoid the worst effects of climate change. For inspiration and personalised advice visit Bristol Climate Hub.

Whether you’re well on your way to net zero, or just beginning your journey, join your fellow businesses and sign up to the Bristol Climate Ask. There’s help and support available to get you started.

To help inspire others to take action, if your business or organisation has a story to tell on its journey to net zero, publicise it on your website and social channels using the hashtag #BristolClimateAction

For residents, a wide range of energy-saving measures are available to low-income households through Bristol City Leap’s Bright Green Homes scheme, which offers free solar panels, heat pumps and insulation. Visit the Bristol City Leap website for information on the Bright Green Homes scheme and to check the eligibility criteria.