Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

The promise of a Bristol Local Food Fund

The Bristol Local Food Fund is a bold new idea to tackle food insecurity in our city.

Today’s blog is by Michael Lloyd-Jones, the Founder and Project Coordinator for the Bristol Local Food Fund

In Bristol, around 1 in 20 households in our city experience “moderate to severe” food insecurity, unable to access enough good quality, nutritious food to maintain health and development.

We know that food is fundamental to our lives, intertwined with key aspects of our society, economy, environment, culture, and community. Many of us are fortunate enough to enjoy Bristol’s wonderful food and drink sector, filled with talented local independents, but for tens of thousands of people in our city, it is a world away.

On top of existing structural inequalities, we’re seeing rocketing energy bills, rising food prices, supply chain failures, and recent cuts to Universal Credit conspiring to wreak a very harsh winter on already vulnerable households.

How can we respond to this urgent crisis as well as tackling the recurrent structural issues that cause food insecurity in our communities?

Community food projects across our city are working to reduce food insecurity, delivering solutions that go beyond the emergency provision of food banks and towards more sustainable solutions. These include growing food locally, community cooking classes, distributing nutritious food boxes – including culturally appropriate food for our diverse population – and running affordable social eating spaces.

Projects such as Heart of BS13, Lawrence Weston City Farm, National Food Service Bristol, BS5 Super Supper Club, the MAZI project, Redcatch Community Garden, and countless others are all offering responses to the specific needs of the communities they serve.

But these projects need funding and support to sustain and scale up their work. Not just emergency funding to see communities through this winter, but help to build a fairer food system that ensures everyone in Bristol can access good quality, affordable food.

That’s why we have launched the Bristol Local Food Fund.

We want to bring all the resources of our city together to create a new, accessible source of funding for community food projects. One that prioritises equitable outcomes for communities that experience the greatest disadvantages around food.

To start the fund off, we launched a crowdfunder campaign in October with a target raise of £100,000.

To ensure the fund is accessible, equitable and serves people in the city who are most in need, we will recruit a Citizen’s Panel – a group of people with lived experience of food insecurity – to help design the grant awards process.

The BLFF team is 100% voluntary, and has developed the project in partnership with Bristol City Council, Feeding Bristol, Quartet Community Foundation (on behalf of Bristol City Funds), Bristol Food Network, and Burges Salmon. Quartet will also act as the grant-holding organisation on behalf of the fund.

The crowdfunder campaign launched on October 26th, and we’ve had a fantastic response so far. Over 40 independent food businesses offered thousands of pounds worth of rewards as an incentive for people to donate to the crowdfunder. We’ve connected with business networks such as Bristol Law Society and Business West to explore ways of supporting the fund. Even major ethical brands like Lush and Patagonia are actively promoting the campaign in their Bristol stores.

We know that Bristol has both the will and the wealth to create this fund – so let’s make it a reality.

To donate to the Bristol Local Food Fund, go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/BLFF

Glas-gow, going, gone

The prospect of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still alive, just, but the world remains ablaze. Antonio Guterres, the UN’s Secretary General, described this goal as being on “life support”. While there have been a series of important agreements, including on deforestation, Climate Action Tracker reports the planet is still heading for 2.4c of warming above pre-industrial levels.

Bristol on the world stage

Bristol has made a big contribution to COP26. I was there for ‘Finance Day’ and ‘Cities Day’. We also had Cabinet Member Councillor Nicola Beech and our Bristol MPs Darren Jones and Kerry McCarthy there. Meanwhile, our Black and Green Ambassadors, Roy Kareem and Olivia Sweeney, made headlines with their presentations on making the environmental movement more inclusive.

We were there in our own right as a city taking real action, three years on from the words of declaring an climate emergency. We were also there as part of a collective of cities — global networks of city mayors and leaders including C40 cities, ICLEI (International Local Governments for Sustainability), Eurocities, and the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission (UKCCIC).

On these various stages I have continued to carry a clear set of messages over the last fortnight.

First, that cities and their mayors should be put front and centre of any COP26 commitments. The battle against climate change will be won or lost in cities. Cities already account for three-quarters of global carbon emissions, and by 2050, 68% of people will live in urban areas. Bad urbanisation is a threat. But good urbanisation can plan for more efficient living that reduces carbon emissions, supports the recovery of wildlife, and builds more just and more inclusive societies.

Second, national governments, international organisations, and private finance must work together to enable mayors to access the scale of investment they to decarbonisation as their existing cities and the future of urbanisation. 

Ensuring a just transition

Third, we need a just transition. I pointed out the triple hit of climate change: that people have been exploited hand in glove with the exploitation of the planet; that those people will then be hit first and hardest by the consequences of climate change; that those people are most at risk of being further disadvantaged by the economic restructuring we must go through if we are meet the 1.5c target. Failure to deliver a just transition will not only be a moral failure but could generate a political backlash as people lose hope and predatory, extremist political actors move to take advantage of the confusion.  

The need for fairness, with social justice hand-in-hand with environmental justice, has proved essential in developing our Clean Air Zone plans. We have taken the time to get things right – including on hospital staff and visitor exemptions, and support for people and businesses to transition. The same is needed for our work tackling the twin challenges of the climate and ecological emergencies. We must be thorough because while time is in short supply, it is also true that we don’t have time to get this wrong.

Cities offer hope

I opened this blog with a sobering reality check, but I also want to share grounds for some hope.

First, COP26 did, for the first time, start talking about cities. Cities and local governments are mentioned in the final agreements. This is a source of hope because with the right kind of finance, cities can deliver irrespective of the ability or inability of national governments to agree targets that meet the scale of the challenge. And from London to Los Angeles, from Bristol to Freetown, that is what we have committed to do.

Second, COP26 has been talking about city finance. As part of UKCCIC we have identified £205 billion of decarbonisation opportunities and needs across the UK’s 12 biggest cities (representing 60% of the population and over half of the economy). Former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney worked up £130 trillion of private sector finance commitment under the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero. We need to ensure that this and government announcements focus on timescales and places, and the regulatory change that will enable us to access funding and deliver projects.

Getting stuff done

This is all very welcome but I have concerns.

First, that large sums of money will be announced but they will not address the problem of cities’ limited ability to actually access the money. Second, that having seen the need for finance, governments, international organisations, and foundations will begin announcing pots of money in an uncoordinated way that will add to the financial complexity cities already face difficulty navigating.

We have some next steps. On my first at day at COP I shared the stage with Treasury Minister Helen Whately MP. I suggested the UKCCIC have a day with the Treasury where we map out the investment need and journey and agree a decarbonisation plan. That meeting is being arranged and could enable Bristol to plan and embark on its own £10 billion decarbonisation journey, while other Core Cities and London embark on theirs.

Next year, the Commonwealth Heads of Government will be having their biannual meeting. I suggested we undertake the same exercise with a collection of Commonwealth cities with the intention of announcing their journey at the gathering in Rwanda. 50% of the urbanisation up to 2050 will happen in the Commonwealth, so this presents a huge opportunity.

We have been raising issues of finance, social equity, and the need for an inclusive approach to climate action to raise the ambition of other cities and national government through our own ambitious policy and green business and industry strengths in Bristol. Speaking the same language, through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, can cut through the complexity of cities. The SDGs show the interdependency of to-do lists for places like Bristol, and the interconnected benefits of invested in cities across public health, economy, housing, and environment.

Actions, not just words

This year’s COP was particularly significant because it comes on the third anniversary of our declaration of a climate emergency.

We haven’t been sitting around, waiting for the international community. We delivered lots since the motion – including much work behind the scenes like City Leap procurement and building the case for investment. Energy and transport remain the two major carbon contributors in Bristol, and we are proud to have insulated some 70% of council homes to EPC level C standard. This is around double the figure for the city as a whole, and last week we announced a new scheme to ensure that private landlords improve energy efficiency in their properties.

We have been creating the conditions to enable other organisations to join us in delivering for Bristol.

COP26 has enabled us to build more momentum both in terms of what we are saying to government and business, and in increasing climate action by local engagement of citizens and businesses. We want every community in Bristol to make and take ownership of their own community climate action plan, and Hartcliffe and Lawrence Weston have gotten off to a great start. No two plans will be the same – and they shouldn’t be – and the Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s community climate action project shows just how we can leave nobody behind in making a just transition.

Since 2016, we have invested over £30 million into low-carbon energy projects, like heat networks, solar panels, electric vehicle charging, and energy efficiency. This programme is delivering England’s largest wind turbine in the north of the city, and, through City Funds, and Bristol’s first hydro-powered dam at the Feeder by St Annes.

Doing, not delaying

I want to finish with this. On Thursday Sadiq Khan told the UN Secretary General and other delegates that C40 had mobilised an international alliance of investors to deliver $1bn (£750m) for zero-emission buses in Latin America.

“In cities, we are the doers, in contrast to national governments who are the delayers, kicking the can down the road to 2040 or 2050,” he said. “National governments can talk a good game, but then refuse to put in place the plans, action or funding we desperately need. Unfortunately, we have seen more examples of this at COP26.”

Cities want to work in partnership with national government: only together can we have any chance of averting the climate emergency.

Bristol’s Climate Smart Cities Challenge

Today’s guest blog is from Jessie Wilde, Deputy Project Director at Bristol Housing Festival

On November 3rd, working with the One City Office, we saw the launch of the Climate Smart City Challenge in Dubai at the International Expo with Nesta and UN Habitat.

The challenge is a city-based open innovation competition that will invite technologists, businesses, and investors to develop, test and scale cutting-edge solutions in four cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bristol has been selected alongside Bogota in Colombia, Curitiba in Brazil, and Makindye Ssabagabo in Uganda. The focus of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge is to design a project at neighbourhood level that will showcase how cities can co-create new ideas together with innovators that make cities more sustainable and climate smart.

As we know, Bristol is currently facing a housing crisis, a climate crisis and a construction skills shortage, and the problem we’re interested in solving is how we deliver new housing, so it becomes a positive contributor to reducing greenhouse gases in the city.

The challenge, or barrier to this, is not the housing technology itself. Where innovation is truly needed is in the model used to deliver housing by multiple stakeholders. The challenge is both in the collaboration required and the financial model and mindset that currently costs, values and processes transactions based on immediate capital return.

There is a challenge of ‘best value’; what does this really means in context, and how does it release the right kind of finance. We need to find a way to demonstrate how an enlightened and informed development appraisal process (looking at the intended outcomes and revenue saving, not just repayment of capital) can create the business case for low carbon, affordable homes with decarbonised energy supply.  

Drawing from the knowledge and wisdom of stakeholders across the city, through focus groups and workshops over the last few months, Bristol has shaped this unique challenge.

We are hoping that challenge submissions will help support system change in how housing is commissioned and to re-create a model of value (not just cost) so that we really can see more housing built in our city, at pace.  But this housing needs to positively contribute to the sustainability and biodiversity of our city and help to combat the climate and ecological emergencies we are facing. However, we must not lose sight of the challenge of homelessness and growing housing waiting lists in the city.

This challenge is complex, it will require innovation and systems thinking. We are not necessarily looking for a widget, an app, or a piece of software, but a solution that crosses sectors and breakdown silos to provide a holistic way forward in the face of Bristol’s challenges.

Meals on electric wheels

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood

One of the Council’s services that I have been most proud of during the pandemic is our Community Meals Service, sometimes called “meals on wheels”.

The service delivers hundreds of hot meals, 364 days a year, to isolated and vulnerable residents, and is a vital part of our agenda to support people to live longer in their own homes, and stay independent. 

The great thing about this service is the wellbeing check that our staff undertake when they deliver the meal. Stories from our drivers just underline for me how passionate they all are about what they do, and how they have, in some cases, saved lives by their visit. 

So, what has this got to do with COP26 and our carbon commitments?

For several years I have been asking about electric vans to replace our current fleet but, until relatively recently, the technology had not been available to be confident in what was out there. We know that battery life is a key fact in switching to electric vehicles, but in the case of these vans, the battery also needs to power ovens to keep meals warm and a refrigeration unit to keep cold and frozen foods fresh.

I am delighted to share with you that these issues have been overcome by the next generation of vehicles, and we are going to have the first four electric vans delivered to our base in Barton Hill in the next few weeks.

On a recent visit to the service, I asked James Dagnall, our Manager, how the drivers viewed this development, and it was so heartening to hear how they have embraced this initiative, and all want to trial the new vans when they arrive.

So, everyone wants to play their part in meeting the climate challenge, whilst continuing to deliver a service in ways that will fit us better for the future. 

If you are interested in finding out more about Community Meals, please go to https://www.bristol.gov.uk/social-care-health/bristol-community-meals

The Natural Curriculum: Inspired by Nature

Today’s guest blog comes from David Millington, creator of the Natural Curriculum

In 2011, on a rainy January afternoon, I had the honour of sharing the stage with my childhood hero – Sir David Attenborough. It was the Association for Science Education’s annual conference. It was held at Reading University. Sir David had been invited to talk about how important it was for children to have a respect and fascination for the natural world. His message to the assembled audience of teachers and lecturers was very clear:

 “Our children will ultimately be the ones that will decide the fate of this planet. If they don’t understand how it works, how will they protect it? And, if they don’t understand the importance of it, why would they want to protect it?”

For my part, I had been invited, as a Bristol-based primary school teacher, to talk about how I had been using natural history film clips in my classroom to inspire learning and to help children become intrigued and excited by the natural world.

Almost 20 years have passed since I first used a natural history clip in my teaching. It was a maths lesson on measurement. It was a Year 4 class. The clip was from Blue Planet and it featured Sir David Attenborough reeling off incredible facts about the size of a mighty blue whale as it breached the surface of the ocean. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, I can vividly recall the children being captivated by the film footage. I can also remember how eager they were to engage in the whale-related maths challenges that followed. Ever since, I have been using similar clips (from ground-breaking BBC series such as Blue Planet, Life and Planet Earth) across the length and breadth of the primary curriculum. The clips are like little nuggets of gold. The children are immediately gripped by the audio-visual content, their attention is held and their enthusiasm for learning is ignited.

With such a vast and ever-growing digital archive of BBC Natural History film clips to choose from, bringing the outside in and exposing children to the wonders of natural world is now at the fingertips of all educators.

Creating the Natural Curriculum

Determined that teachers utilise the BBC natural history archive to its full potential, I approached the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) with the idea of creating a website. (ERA licences the use of broadcast recordings for non-commercial educational use.) The idea being that the website would combine captivating NH clips with high quality lessons that were linked to the National Curriculum for England and Wales. Initially, animal-themed grammar lessons would feature on the site. It was a project that the Educational Recording Agency were keen to be a part of from the outset, and, through their financial and technical support, our website was launched in March 2020.

Since its launch, the Natural Curriculum’s grammar lessons have reached out to thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of children across the UK. During lockdown periods, where remote learning became the norm, the Natural Curriculum showed young people what our incredible planet had to offer, bringing the outside world into the limited spaces that they were occupying. The wondrous animals and far-reaching landscapes particularly appealed to children living in cities, and to those children who had not had the opportunity to explore much of the natural world beyond their own home.

It is important to note that the Natural Curriculum has been a truly collaborative effort. Many dedicated teachers from Bristol and around the country have either written lessons for the site or have given invaluable feedback on it.

Award-winning

Despite being a relative newcomer on the educational resource scene, the Natural Curriculum has already won several prestigious awards: it was recently named a 4* Winner at the Teach Primary Awards. This followed awards earlier in the year, when the Natural Curriculum won both of its categories at the prestigious 2021 Education Resources Awards ceremony.

As it continues to branch out into different subjects and topic areas, the Natural Curriculum is a beast that will not be tamed. As more animals become threatened with extinction and landscapes become degraded, the Natural Curriculum will show children why they must do their very best to engage with the natural world and take their own steps to safeguard it.

They must not follow the same path that those before them have trodden.

David Millington is the creator of the Natural Curriculum. He is currently working as a Year 3 teacher at Cotham Gardens Primary School in Bristol. The school is in the process of developing an exciting climate change curriculum with the support of a co-operative working group that includes the voices of children, staff, parents and carers, senior leaders and governors. 

If you would like to contact David about the Natural Curriculum, please email naturalcurricculum@era.org.uk

Climate action in Lawrence Weston

Today’s guest blog is by Donna Sealey from Ambition Lawrence Weston

Lawrence Weston has been busy writing their own Community Climate Action Plan over the summer and, after months of events, workshops and activities, it will be ready to be published in January 2022. We are one of six communities in Bristol who are pioneering this new approach to tackling the climate crisis at a local level.

We have been co-producing our climate action plan with local residents in the driving seat, after all they are the local experts who know their community the best. It is imperative to give residents the lead when planning any kind of community action, residents have to feel that they are part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

We began this journey in the Spring of 2021 right in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced us to rethink the way in which we wanted to engage our residents. Covid cases were high in our ward, lockdowns imposed, and schools closed.

Why a Community Climate Action Plan?

There are two important outcomes of our Climate plan for Lawrence Weston. The first is our community’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030, but secondly, and most importantly, is the co-benefits that comes with delivering this plan. For example, more opportunities to access green spaces, better public transport, warmer homes, training within the green economy, financial benefits, improving mental and physical health, and better-quality food. All of these will improve overall health and wellbeing for our residents whilst reducing carbon emissions.

It comes to no surprise that housing, public transport, jobs and skills, food and fuel poverty, and green spaces all feature strongly in our plan. Residents were at the forefront of deciding what the issues were, and how they were impacting on their everyday life but, more importantly, what the actions should be in addressing these issues, as well as the journey on how we will achieve carbon neutrality.

Projects being delivered

We have many community projects that we are currently delivering, including our community litter picking group, Lawrence Weston in Bloom, community food growing, cycling facilities, as well as building 36 affordable energy efficient homes and a new community hub. We are also a Going for Gold champion, which means we are only one of 25 organisations in Bristol who have taken action across all six areas as our commitment to ensure we have a more sustainable, fairer and healthier food system that benefits people, communities and planet.

England’s largest wind turbine

One project that Ambition Lawrence Weston has been working on is building our own community owned wind turbine. This project came out as one solution to address fuel poverty during our 2017 community plan consultation. The wind turbine will be the biggest on-shore wind turbine in the UK, and will generate enough energy for 3,500 homes and save 1,965 tonnes of CO2 a year. That’s enough energy to power all the homes in Lawrence Weston! We expect the wind turbine to be spinning by November 2022.

Pledgeball: Love sport, love the planet

Today’s guest blog comes from Katie Cross, Founder of Pledgeball

Tackling climate change requires collective action: it requires decision makers to put a sustainable future first; it requires businesses to work under the ethos of leave no trace and it requires the many to make all choices informed by their impact on the planet.

Pledgeball rallies the many, by making visible the impact that we can have as a collective. Pledgeball works primarily with football fans for two reasons. Firstly, I love football. Secondly, the football community has the potential to rapidly initiate significant change. 

Bristol City FC were the first professional club to partner with Pledgeball back in April 2021. Just one Ashton Gate-worth of fans reducing their shower time to 5 minutes saves the same amount of carbon emissions as taking over 2,000 cars off the road. Then there’s the unmeasurable impact of this behaviour change filtering out into each fan’s own sphere of influence. Conversations about climate change with friends, relatives, colleagues plant the seed that grows into the majority living sustainably.

This is how Pledgeball works.

Each match day fans make one or a number of sustainable lifestyle pledges – pledges that range from switching to a reusable cup, to going vegan two days per week, to installing solar panels. The team of fans that pledges to save the most emissions wins that fixture and the cumulative amount they pledge to save determines their team’s place within the Pledgeball League. Robins fans have so far pledged to save 143,239kg of carbon emissions per year and lie in third in the Pledgeball League, behind two other Pledgeball partners.

But the true power lies in the grassroots communities – and not just in football either. Therefore, Pledgeball is open to anyone: any grassroots team, any group, any club can have a listing at pledgeball.org, which lets them pledge together, support each other with the changes they choose to make and see the collective impact of carrying out these pledges.

Pledgeball’s potential for initiating a significant, holistic shift in mindset has been proven, and its work continues to be informed and assessed by academic research. 

It would not take many of us to live as sustainably as possible for it to start to become the norm. This will reduce carbon emissions both through our own individual choices and through the pressure applied to businesses, organisations and governments.

We all care about something, from family to football, and every one of those things will be affected by climate change. As individuals, we have the power to create change, through our choices and our conversations. Mobilising our existing communities will significantly accelerate our move to a sustainable future.

The Global Goals Centre’s #Bristol17 Campaign, which I was very happy to be a part of, illustrates this last point beautifully – look out for posters of us 17 around Bristol and our films playing in Millennium Square. 

To list your community: www.pledgeball.org/host-your-own-event

To see us at COP26, presenting our World Cup partnership with Spirit of Football: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/spirit-of-football-one-ball-one-world-how-the-unif

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Tackling the climate and ecological emergencies

Today Bristol held its tenth, bi-annual City Gathering, an opportunity for over 300 individuals and organisations from around the city to come together with a shared desire to work with a One City Approach which champions collaboration and partnership between public, private, charitable, and voluntary sector organisations. In the run up to COP26, this City Gathering was centred on our climate and ecological emergencies, with a focus on three key-areas:

  • The challenge Bristol is facing;
  • What organisations and communities are already doing to address the crises; and
  • COP26 and the work we still need to do.

We had a great line up today with national and local speakers from diverse and wide-ranging backgrounds who all share our goal of becoming net zero by 2030 and with many representing and reflecting the different aspects that make up this great city of ours. We realise how urgent this situation is and now is not the time to downplay the crises to make it seem more manageable, instead, we have addressed the issues head on and held ourselves accountable to the challenges at hand. We had leading academics like Professor Dan Lunt, one of the recent IPCC report authors, and Professor Jim Longhurst, co-chair of the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change, setting out the challenge and how we need both individual action and systemic change. 

We were pleased to welcome all the speakers to the Gathering, including Anneka Sutcliffe of Extinction Rebellion, who offered reflections on the day, Helen Kidan and Mohammed Osman who drew on their experiences as climate migrants, John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, who focused on how to lead the way locally with a Just Transition, and Professor Greg Clark, Chair of Connected Places Catapult, on the importance of financing cities.

All speakers were asked to come to the Gathering with a big Offer and Ask of the city to maximise the potential of having so many pioneers and innovators in one room and to focus on the practical actions Bristol can take to progress our One City Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategies. In this spirit, the city had its own ‘Climate Ask‘. We are calling on all businesses and organisations based in the city to: 

  1. Declare an ambition to become Net Zero by 2030;
  2. Commit to developing a plan to reduce carbon emissions within 6 months;
  3. Start delivering on your plan within 12 months;
  4. Inspire other businesses by sharing your journey; we want to share your stories.

Our Offer to the city is that we will connect you to the businesses and networks that can support you to write that plan and to have it in place by 2022. Acknowledging that your plan will not cover all your emissions, but it will enable the next step that will set us on the pathway to 2030.

With this Offer and Ask, and those of the organisations in attendance today, Bristol took an active step forward towards tackling this challenge. It is only by working together as One City, that we can achieve the ambitious goals that we have set ourselves and move forward collectively to a greener, more sustainable future.

Thank you to everyone who attended today, we hope it left you with hope and a sense of unity to protect our city for future generations.

Bristol’s Heat Network

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Energy, and Waste, and Labour Councillor for St George Central

To play our part in the fight against climate change, Bristol has committed to becoming a carbon neutral city by the year 2030. The expansion of Bristol’s Heat Network to new communities across Bristol is one key ingredient in securing Bristol’s energy future and providing businesses and homes with heat and energy form low carbon sources.

Heating and hot water currently account for 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, and 40% of Bristol’s emissions come from heating our homes and workspaces, so it is vital that we continue to invest in technology like this to support our transition to net zero.

What’s Bristol’s Heat Network?

Heat networks are a network of underground pipes that deliver affordable, low-carbon heat and energy to homes and businesses across the city. Bristol’s Heat Network is divided into different sections that cover areas across the city, with each section powered by a local energy centre. Heat networks are not new technology and are commonplace across Europe, with Copenhagen topping the charts with its heat network supplying around 98% of the city’s heat demand. Heat networks are less common in the UK and Bristol really does lead the way here.

Our existing heat network now supplies over 1,000 properties with low-carbon heat with pipe spanning over 8km underground. The neat part of heat networks is that they can draw their heat from many different sources – from the river to sewers to underground geothermal. So as our city continues to transition to 2030 and other heat sources become available, our heat network can live on.

But timing is everything and our cabinet paper brings forward our investment into Bedminster Green where 2,000 new homes are being built. By taking this decision, we are ensuring that we minimise disruption during the installation of the underground pipes and low carbon energy centres and have the energy solution in place ready to serve new developments as they are built.

What’s next for Bristol’s Heat Network?

The approved Bedminster section of the network will use heat extracted from waste-water in our sewer system to provide homes with warmth and warm water. We are living our waste nothing values by recycling Bristol’s hot shower water to heat homes elsewhere.

We are also continuing with the construction of a new Water Source Heat Pump in Castle Park, a renewable technology that will create heat from water in the floating harbour and the largest in the country.

As we see global shocks in gas prices forcing consumer bills up, I am really proud to be part of an administration which is creating the energy infrastructure Bristol needs, putting us in control of our energy future and taking big leaps on our journey to 2030.

You can find out more about Bristol’s Heat Network at: www.energyservicebristol.co.uk

World Habitat Day

Ian Barrett stands, smiling, in a black fleece with Avon Wildlife Trust's badger logo, with green hills and trees behind him. Ian writes for World Habitat Day.
Today’s guest blog is from Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust (photo credit: Jon Craig)

The United Nations recognises the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day, which is intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

We live in challenging times, but there is reason for hope and things that we can all do to help to restore the health of our planet for people and wildlife.

An Ecological Emergency

Next month, countries from around the world will meet in Glasgow to talk about how we tackle the challenge of climate change. Next year they will be meeting in China to look at how we tackle the challenge of declining wildlife and the ecosystems that support life on Earth.

The figures are stark. We’ve lost 68% of the world’s wild vertebrates since the 1970s. Nationally, we’ve seen massive and accelerating declines in previously common species such as songbirds and hedgehogs. In Bristol we’ve lost 96% of our swifts and swallows since the 1990s. This matters not only for wildlife, but also for all of the things nature does for us, ultimately including clean air, clean water, and the pollination of food.

Reasons for Hope

It’s easy to get down about the state of the world’s natural environment. “Eco-anxiety” is a growing issue for people of all ages. But there are signs of hope. We have wild beavers back in the river Avon for the first time in over 400 years. Lapwing are raising chicks in the Gordano valley after a 20 year absence. We know that where we restore damaged habitats and give nature a helping hand, wildlife can recover and thrive. 

Bristol has led the way in facing up to today’s environmental challenges. We were the first major UK city to declare a climate emergency in November 2018 and the first to declare an ecological emergency in February 2020.

What You Can Do

Our ecological emergency strategy sets out the actions we need to take as a city and as individuals to restore nature and bring wildlife back. This includes managing more land for nature, reducing pesticide use, cleaning up our rivers and reducing the impact of the things we buy on wildlife and habitats around the world. Our ambition is to see 30% of land managed for the benefit of wildlife by 2030, including wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and business parks and more nature-friendly farming.  

We want to create and support a movement for change, with people and communities coming together to take action for wildlife. Every little action can help, from planting bee-friendly plants in window boxes to rewilding local green spaces, creating a pond or bug hotel, choosing to buy food from local, organic producers. You can find 30 things you can do to help wildlife on the Avon Wildlife Trust website. Join us today in helping to secure the future of our planet for people and wildlife.

Avon Wildlife Trust's banner, showing a wild beaver in the river Avon, with the following text: 

"30% of land and sea by 2030: help aid nature's recovery - donate today."

Ian writes today for World Habitat Day.