Bristol’s community organisations are pioneering bold and fair community-led climate action. On 9 March Bristol’s first Community Climate Action plans will be launched, demonstrating the leadership role communities are taking in the city’s response to the climate crisis.
Six community organisations representing some of Bristol’s most disadvantaged communities have co-produced community climate action plans with and for their communities as part of the Bristol Community Climate Action project, co-ordinated by Bristol Green Capital Partnership and supported by the lottery’s Climate Action Fund. The plans identify key priorities which will help deliver Bristol’s 2030 carbon neutral ambition whilst also improving the quality of life for local residents, as the city recovers from the pandemic and the country attempts to ‘level up’ inequality.
“We are pioneering the way to show that all community work is climate work. We are becoming experts in climate work because the benefits of things like warmer homes, cleaner air, better public transport, access to green jobs and nature are invaluable to our local residents“Donna Sealey from Ambition Lawrence Weston
Bristol communities leading the way on climate change
Throughout 2021 ACH, Ambition Lawrence Weston, Bristol Disability Equalities Forum, Eastside Community Trust, Heart of BS13 and Lockleaze Neighbourhood led an in-depth community engagement process – working with artists, hosting community meals and presenting radio shows to start accessible climate conversations with their communities. These conversations explored transport, energy, food, waste, nature, buildings, jobs/economy and inequality and enabled each community to create a unique set of climate priorities as part of a comprehensive community plan.
Priorities range from new green jobs for refugees and young people to closed loop food systems that tackle waste and food insecurity; from the generation of community owned renewable energy on local buildings to creating a bespoke ‘Repair Hub’ enabling the community of Disabled people to save money and reduce waste. The project partners now plan to put their priorities into action showing the contribution communities can make to the city’s climate targets.
Why is community-led climate action important?
The climate action we take as individuals and households is critically important. And the actions of governments, business and local authorities too. But we can’t solve the climate crisis without community. In Bristol, community has been key to so much the city has achieved. It’s people working together that makes real change happen. With community we can achieve great things.
“Bristol’s community organisations showed real leadership during the pandemic – they proved how essential they are when a city needs to respond to a crisis – they are a critical part of our city’s response to the climate and ecological crises. The innovative plans cocreated by these communities will help Bristol realise the bold and rapid climate action needed to reach the city’s 2030 net zero target“Amy Harrison Community Manager for Bristol Green Capital Partnership
Taking action on climate and equality
A key focus of the plans is ensuring the city’s response to the climate and nature emergencies improves, rather than worsens, inequality for local people.
“we want to ensure that climate action reflects the reality of people’s lives. It’s important that we’re not asking the people who are least responsible for carbon emissions to carry the biggest burden for reducing them. It’s about climate justice – we need to improve people’s quality of life whilst tackling climate change“Emily Fifield of Eastside Community Trust
These ambitious community plans have been developed by neighbourhoods experiencing inequality, along with the communities of Disabled people and Refugees in the city. The community organisations involved believe taking climate action can also be an opportunity to make the lives of local people better and that by creating their own community-led plans, the voices and needs of Bristol’s diverse communities will be better represented.
“Climate action has a history of creating new barriers for Disabled people and of leaving us out of the conversation. Our plan shows that by including Disabled people there are simple, actionable ways that we can make our cities fairer and better for both the planet and everyone who lives in them.”Emma Geen, Bristol Disability Equal
If the plans developed by these communities are to succeed, they will need the support of the council, local businesses and organisations.
“Bristol has a bold One City Climate Strategy, with ambitious targets for 2030. If we are to reach these targets, we all need to work together – the council, businesses, individuals and of course communities. Community organisations have such an important role to play, and by developing their own Community Climate Action plans, six of Bristol’s communities have identified clear climate priorities which also bring benefits – like saving people money during a cost of living crisis – to local people. We as a council are keen to support these communities as they put their plans into action and champion community-led climate action in the city”Nicola Beech, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy
Bristol demonstrated ambition and leadership as the first local authority to declare climate and ecological emergencies and develop city strategies in response. So let’s work together to build on that.
We know what role communities can play. What role can you play?
Read Bristol’s first Community Climate Action Plans at the bottom of Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s news post