The article below, from Cllr Kye Dudd (Cabinet Member for Transport & Energy), first appeared in Bristol 24/7:
Bristol’s Labour council – the city’s first majority administration since 2003 – has both municipal socialism and municipal environmentalism at our heart.
As one of the first local councils in the country to own a wind turbine, and one of the earliest to establish a council-owned energy company with 100 per cent green tariffs, Bristol is at the forefront of fighting climate change.
Despite their early spin and photo-ops, successive Tory governments have undermined progress on climate change: cutting subsidies and allowing and promoting damaging activities like fracking to continue.
In contrast, Labour is serious about delivering a green industrial revolution – promising 400,000 new jobs.
A Jeremy Corbyn-led government will bring in the subsidies, taxes, regulation, and funding to fully address the scale of the challenge we face.
As the climate emergency declared by mayor Marvin Rees and supported by Labour councillors shows, urgency is required, and we cannot afford to wait for the next general election and a much-needed change of government.
In the meantime, we’re taking the lead – showing what cities can do.
We have met our carbon emissions targets two years early and will be setting out even more ambitious goals going forward.
We’ve been crowned the best recyclers in the English core cities, and we are on track to hit our household recycling target by 2020.
We’ve won awards for reducing food waste and using what does still go in brown boxes to generate more renewable energy.
We’ve also backed the UK’s largest bio-gas bus order and secured funding to retrofit the oldest buses to bring them up to standard.
We invested almost £20m in new lower-emission vehicles for our own fleets, led regional work to install hundreds of new electric vehicle charging points, and will go out to consultation on a Clean Air Plan this summer.
Most exciting of all is a £1bn energy revolution – a Green New Deal for Bristol – which will reduce the city’s annual 1.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions generated by energy.
Building on local pilot projects, we are taking a huge leap forward to transform and decarbonise the city’s energy infrastructure.
This City Leap Energy Partnership will radically change how Bristol generates, stores, and manages energy demand and use.
It means more heat networks, like the Bishport Fives in Hartcliffe and the expanding Redcliffe/Temple Quarter heat network, tackling fuel poverty by providing low-cost and low-carbon hot water and heating.
Using the low-carbon waste heat from industry in Avonmouth we can deliver the UK’s largest city-scale heat network.
This transformational programme is bold, but builds on the good work already happening thanks to city partners and the council’s energy service.
We need to push on and expand our solar and wind farm capacities, and innovate to make best use of new technologies and our natural, renewable resources.
This vital work has interest from investment partners with expressions of interest from local community groups and companies as well as around the world, from places like Japan, America and Australia.
Just as importantly, we can combine our aspirations of social justice and equality, because through investment and innovation we can also lift 60,000 people out of fuel poverty, meaning people no longer have to choose between heating and eating.
We will also increase Bristol’s share of the almost £900m a year which leaves the pockets of Bristolians into big energy companies, keeping it in our local economy.
We were the only party in 2016 to set a clear manifesto commitment for the council to be run on clean energy or become carbon neutral, so it is not surprising that only Labour voted to fund and move forward with our City Leap energy programme in February.
However, I’m proud to be part of an administration which is delivering for Bristol and, through City Leap and other pioneering environmental initiatives, for the planet too.