Marvin Rees, the Labour Mayor of Bristol, today made changes to his cabinet – adding tackling the Climate Emergency to his personal policy portfolio. In a further move, thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the country, Councillor Kye Dudd’s remit has been extended to include the Green New Deal – as well as transport and energy.
In announcing the changes, Mayor Rees said:
“I was proud to be the first council leader to declare a Climate Emergency, and brought the motion to the Local Government Association which saw 435 councils declare a Climate Emergency and back the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Bristol has led the way on telling the truth about the Climate Emergency we face and tackling it, alongside challenges at the same time around social justice.
“We are acting. Through procurement, city planning, and investment in heat networks, we are tackling the poverty and inequality that takes away the economic and emotional space people need to be able to take the medium to long view. We are making the change the city and world needs.
“In July, my Labour administration published a ground-breaking action plan for carbon neutrality by 2030. The One City Environment Board, which I chair, is bringing together Bristol’s environmental enthusiasm and expertise. Today we take another step forward, embedding the Green New Deal into our cabinet structure to enable our administration to do even more on the environment.”
Commenting on his expanded role, Councillor Dudd added:
“Over the last 18 months, I have pushed forward Bristol’s £1 billion investment in cleaner, greener energy. The City Leap programme will totally transform how we generate, use, transfer, and store energy.
“Labour have backed City Leap when other parties have refused to act on the Climate Emergency, choosing instead just to talk about it. Now, having already progressed some 90% of Friends of the Earth’s climate changes asks of councils, we are taking further action to put Bristol at the forefront of the campaign for the Green New Deal.”
Notes to Editor
Changes to cabinet portfolios are confirmed ahead of next week’s Cabinet meeting, taking place from 16:00 on Tuesday 3 September, which will also consider approving the £26 million expansion of low-carbon heat networks including through use of heat from Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour.
These cabinet changes follow on from the Labour-run council’s confirmation that 30 of the 33 (over 90 per cent) asks of local authorities by Friends of the Earth are already being progressed by Bristol City Council. These targets are part of the Bristol One City Plan, which sets out environmental and other aims to be achieved every year through to 2050.
The Green New Deal is a national campaign by local Labour parties, who are seeking for the policy agenda to become Labour party policy at its national conference in September. In the US, it has also won the backing of Democratic politicians including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. Bristol’s Mayor and Labour Group have already signed up to the campaign.
In addition to the carbon neutrality action plan, the Mayor of Bristol has established an Environment and Sustainability Board to oversee the One City plan and its annual refresh, and set up an Advisory Committee on Climate Change – a panel of academics and experts providing independent advice and guidance to Bristol City Council and city partners.
In November 2018, Labour-run Bristol City Council and Labour Mayor Marvin Rees became the first local authority in the UK to declare a climate emergency. The motion passed then also moved the carbon neutrality target from 2050 – in line with Labour’s 2016 local manifesto, which was the only party manifesto to set such a concrete target – to 2030. In July 2019, at the Local Government Association national conference in Bournemouth, Mayor Marvin Rees’ motion got a further 435 councils to join him in declaring a climate emergency and endorsing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
At July’s Full Council meeting, Labour radically strengthened a Green Party motion on pension fund divestment and diversification. Gaining cross party support, Labour Councillor Steve Pearce called for the Brunel Pension Partnership (assets circa £30 billion) and the Local Government Pension Fund Forum (over £200 billion) to follow the lead of Bristol and the Avon Pension Fund (combined assets of Bristol and other former Avon area councils, worth some around £5 billion). This amendment represents over forty times more in terms of pension funds than the original motion.
Presenting his carbon neutrality report to Full Council in July, the Mayor highlighted how Bristol Labour have gone well beyond the first step of voting for a climate emergency to actually delivering measures to meet carbon neutrality:
- Bristol being recognised as the best recyclers among core cities and will deliver [a new recycling and reuse centre at] Hartcliffe Way;
- Bristol City Council beating its carbon emissions reduction targets, reducing carbon twice as fast as Bristol as a whole, and setting a new 2025 corporate carbon neutrality target;
- Bedminster’s new bio-methane fuelling station for buses which emit 80% less greenhouse gases and 95% less nitrogen oxides;
- That Labour have also put £90 million towards low-emission vehicles, flood defences, renewable energy, reducing fuel poverty, and increasing insulation in February.
- 435 councils back Bristol’s pledge to deliver the UN’s SDGs and declare a climate emergency;
- Mayor of Bristol’s climate action commitment [including carbon neutrality report];
- Environmental Sustainability Board unveiled;
- Consultation on traffic clean air options;
- School communities invited to join pilot to reduce air pollution