Greens say Mayor’s climate plan lacks ideas and emergency08 July 2019
Bristol Green Party has welcomed the Mayor’s new plan to address the Climate Emergency but says that the plan lacks substance or the urgent action needed to address this pressing issue.
The Mayor’s plan , due to be presented at the Full Council meeting on the 16th July, was triggered by the Green Party motion to declare a Climate Emergency for Bristol that passed in November last year and set a carbon neutrality target of 2030 for the city .
The new plan repackages several existing ideas that the city has been developing, and proposes a structure to develop the concepts further.
Sandy Hore-Ruthven, the Green Party Mayoral Candidate, said: “Although we welcome the Mayor’s commitment to the Climate Emergency, we need an ambitious and visionary set of actions that show bold leadership and the deep conviction needed to tackle to problems we face. The newly published plan does not reflect the urgency of the issue. In fact, it is a collection of existing projects, many of which were started by previous administrations. The report does little to identify a strategic approach or pin down concrete actions. A plan to make a plan is not what we need right now.”
He continued: “The technology and ideas to create a zero-carbon economy already exist and many of them are simple – renewable energy, a good public transport system and insulated homes. Many of these will benefit the city in multiple ways through reduced heating bills for the poorest, improved travel times and business connectivity, healthier citizens and cleaner air. Kicking this into the long grass by proposing more plans and reports could see Bristol slip further behind other cities when we should be leading the way.”
Bristol was the first city in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency and initiated a national trend for other cities to adopt similar pledges. Councillor Carla Denyer is the Green lead on the Climate Emergency for Bristol. Councillor Denyer said: “There’s some good stuff in the climate emergency report – I’m particularly pleased to see the inclusion of the Green proposal for the Council to adopt an annual carbon budget. It’s also good that the Council is setting a tougher carbon neutrality target for itself. This shows the power of having elected Greens to move motions like this and push for real and meaningful climate action.”
“However, coming eight months after Full Council declared a climate emergency, this is still a plan to produce a plan. When I proposed the climate emergency motion last year, it was in light of the IPCC’s stark warning that humanity has 12 years to take bold action to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown. Since the report was published, one of those 12 years has passed – so we need an end to the ‘business as usual’ approach, replaced with rapid and ambitious action, and unfortunately there isn’t enough of that in this report.
“I understand that further research is needed, but there is some work that it’s obvious we’ll have to carry out, for example massively improving infrastructure for walking and cycling, which Greens suggested in a report six months ago , and is a ‘win-win-win’ solution that fights the climate emergency, improves people’s quality of life and stimulates the economy. Everyone knows these need to happen, so why wait? Let’s get started now.”
Among other action proposals, the Greens have already brought forward costed plans to invest £6 million a year in buses to improve reliability, reduce ticket costs, and make services more frequent, paid for through a congestion zone . Greens have also stated clear opposition to the expansion of Bristol Airport. In contrast, despite the Mayor declaring his support for the Climate Emergency, he remains a vocal supporter of airport expansion .
Greens remain committed to keeping up the pressure for bold action on the Climate Emergency both within and without Bristol City Council and have pledged to work cross-party as this strategy progresses.
 The Mayor’s ‘Climate Emergency Action Plan’ was published on Friday 5th July and will be presented at the Bristol Full Council meeting on Tuesday 16th July. It is available here: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/s34127/Climate%20Emergency%20-%20The%20Mayors%20Response.pdf
 The Green motion passed in November last year by Bristol City Council to declare a Climate Emergency was the first of its kind in the UK and Europe and has triggered a movement of towns and cities adopting similar aims https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2018/11/14/bristol-greens-declare-climate-emergency-and-bring-citys-co2-emissions-target-forward-20-years/
 A copy of Bristol Green Party councillors’ Change Starts Now report is available here: https://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/action-needed-for-bristol-to-be-carbon-neutral-by-2030
 The Mayor has received a lot of attention for his strong support for Bristol airport expansion, despite backing the declaration of a Climate Emergency, e.g. see https://www.bristol247.com/opinion/your-say/airport-expansion-is-the-topsy-turvy-logic-of-an-economic-wonderland/. The local chapter of Youth Strike for Climate have also focussed their campaign on lobbying the Mayor to stop airport expansion.