Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

The stuff we’re getting done

For too long, Bristol’s political leaders took a patch-and-mend to building Bristol, failing to prepare for our city’s growth in population, to update our city’s energy systems, or to deliver a transport network fit for a modern city. By contrast, I’m proud that our administration is getting stuff done and building the next iteration of Bristol.

Future-proofing the city

Nowhere is this more urgent than in tackling our housing crisis. Average house prices are now nine times higher than average earnings – the highest of all the core cities. Combined with the impact of the pandemic and over a decade of government cuts to public services and welfare, this has left us with over 15,000 people on our housing waiting list, and around 1,000 families in temporary accommodation. On top of all of this, our city’s population is set to grow by almost 100,000 people by 2050.

That’s why we’ve put forward investment of £12 million in our budget to support the delivery of new affordable homes, with a plan to deliver 1,000 affordable homes a year by 2024 which will be considered by Cabinet this week. The cornerstone of this plan is the delivery of one of the biggest council house building programmes in a generation at Hengrove Park, with half of the 1,400 homes delivered by our housing company Goram Homes dedicated for social rent and shared ownership.

We’re planning for the future too, by investing £1.8 billion over 30 years to deliver new council homes and upgrading our existing stock.

Rethinking the architecture of the city

We are responding to this housing crisis in the context of a climate and ecological emergency. Put simply, how and where we build these new homes will determine the price the planet pays for Bristol’s growth.

We’ve worked with experts, like the Avon Wildlife Trust, to understand the ecological impact of development in different parts of the city. That’s why we’ve taken the decision to scale down our own plans for development on the Western Slopes, building affordable homes only on the previously-developed former school site near Belstone Walk.

Not delivering homes here, however, means we must prioritise development at higher density on brownfield land near the centre of the city. We’ll continue to do just that through major regeneration schemes that will bring thousands of new homes (and jobs!) to our city: Castle Park View, Bedminster Green, Western Harbour, Frome Gateway, and – of course – Temple Island.

Even in the city centre, however, we’re building in space for nature to thrive. The work we’re doing to create green roofs and walls in the Bearpit will inform how we can incorporate these into future regeneration projects – building ecology into the very architecture of the city. And we are working with the Environment Agency to deliver on our flood strategy and protect our city from the impacts of climate change.

Connecting the city

All of this demands big changes to how we move around the city. Our mission throughout has been to connect people to people, people to jobs, and people to opportunity. But we will fail if we just tinker around the edges of Bristol’s transport network like previous administrations. That’s why we’re taking big decisions now to lay the foundations of a Bristol that is fit for the future.

We are repairing vital infrastructure that for too long has been allowed to fray, with a £15 million investment in repairing 6 crucial bridges. We’re delivering unprecedented investment in Bristol’s public transport system – providing more people across the city with more frequent and reliable alternatives to travelling by car. This includes the improvements to the number 2 route as part of the Bus Deal, and the delivery of the first new train station in Bristol in 95 years at the Portway Park and Ride (soon to be followed by a new station at Ashley Down).

All this builds the case for a radical rethink of our transport system. Bristol is the only core city without a mass transit network, and I am pleased that leaders across parties and from across the region recognise the need to redress this. I’m pleased to secure commitment from WECA on the need for tunnels and £5 million of investmentto set out our plans.

We’re applying that ambition to a local level too. We’ve opened our initial engagement so that residents can help us shape our first Liveable Neighbourhood pilot in East Bristol. Combined with £4.7 million of investment to help Bristol’s high streetsrecover from the pandemic, we’re committed to building sustainable and thriving communities for residents and businesses.

Going big

The interconnected challenges we are facing as a city and a planet demand urgent action. We are taking decisions that deliver jobs, homes, and sustainability to make sure Bristol can tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities to come over the next decades.

Now is the time for clear leadership – for getting stuff done quickly, and with an eye on the future challenges we face.

That’s what we’re delivering.

Bearpit necessities

Artist’s illustration of what the green roofs and walls could look like in the Bearpit when works are complete

Bristol has ambitious goals for ecology and wildlife in our city, but this can be challenging in urban settings. We’ve been working to bring nature and green walls to as many places as possible, and now we can share news of a project to bring pollinators to the St James Barton roundabout (AKA the Bearpit).

Our priority has been to make the Bearpit a safe place for everyone. We saw a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour of three quarters after we took action in September 2019. We are now able to share more about the work we’re doing to wild the Bearpit, which is a continuation of the improvement works there, as well as supporting our citywide ecological strategy and aims.

This week we commenced a four-week programme to create green roofs on the former toilet blocks, turning them into wildflower meadows. The native flowers will add to the biodiversity and attract pollinators, in a space dominated by concrete and busy roads. They will have a waterproof layer, topped with a recycled stone substrate layer and then sown with a wildflower meadow seed. Once it grows, it will become a mix of colourful native wildflowers and grasses, which are low maintenance, and drought tolerant to minimise water consumption and be resilient to climate change.

We have also worked on the raised terrace planting, with the Bristol Parks team having removed the weeds as well as litter and graffiti. The timber walls are being re-stained and timber seat tops replaced with sustainable oak timbers. The existing pollinator-friendly planting along the walls has been retained and pruned. In the retained existing soil, we are adding new wildflower meadow turf and meadow seed will be sown in the spring. There will be new native trees planted, with spring-flowering bulbs planted into the meadow areas. The planted terraces are being maintained by Bristol City Council.

These elements contribute to us delivering the Ecological Emergency Action Plan goals, including the aims of ‘Meadow Bristol’, by creating new wildflower meadow habitats and our commitment to ‘Green Infrastructure’ and managing green spaces to increase biodiversity within the heart of the city.

This is round two in the fight to make the Bearpit a safe space for everyone and an area with pollinators, wildlife and colour.

Help us improve a major transport route

Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport

It’s vital that we tackle congestion and air pollution across Bristol. This means reducing carbon and improving the air we breathe, improving the speed and reliability of buses and making it safer on our streets for cyclists and walkers. It’s time we think differently about the way we travel in Bristol.

Our designs for the number 2 bus route (A37/A4018), which will improve journeys along this busy traffic corridor, have been shaped by the people who live, work and travel along it.

We opened our consultation on these proposals at the start of December and have since had many people get involved and give us their views.

I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to look at our plans and share their thoughts with us. There’s still time to tell us what you think if you haven’t got round to it yet.  

The number 2 bus route is one of eight main bus routes that need to be improved in Bristol. It travels from Cribbs Causeway to Stockwood via the city centre, following the A37 and A4018.

Overall, we want to encourage more people to choose to make the switch to take the bus, walk or cycle. For this to happen, we need to improve the service offered by the number 2 bus by making it easier to catch, more reliable, with shorter journey times.

We’re also committed to active travel, and our proposals will achieve better spaces for walkers and make it safer to cycle.

This project is part of our wider transformation over the next decade, working with the West of England Combined Authority, to make Bristol’s transport network better for all.

Through our ongoing consultation, we need to know if we have struck the right balance for the city with our designs and are reminding everyone to have their say.

We’ve launched a virtual room online (see photo of what it looks like below) that allows you to isolate the parts of the route you’re familiar with, find out what we’re planning along local streets, and give your views.

Screenshot of the Virtual Engage tool for the number 2 bus route consultation

We’re also continuing to host a series of drop-in information sessions so you can find out more about the proposals and ask us your questions.

To see our plans, book onto a drop-in session, and have your say, go to the Travelwest website by 28 January 2022.

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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