Green Capital Year ends… as Bristol steps up its sustainability mission
Green Capital Year ends… as Bristol steps up its sustainability mission. It doesn’t stop here! That was the message delivered loud and clear when the end of Bristol’s European Green Capital Year was celebrated with a closing ceremony in front of an audience of 1,000 people at the city’s Colston Hall.
“At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December, 196 countries signed the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate accord. “Of those, 76% are playing Sustainable Shaun! Andrew Garrad
It doesn’t stop here! That was the message delivered loud and clear when the end of Bristol’s European Green Capital Year was celebrated with a closing ceremony in front of an audience of 1,000 people at the city’s Colston Hall. As Mayor George Ferguson put it: “The most important aspect is that it is seen as a catalyst for the sort of changes we need to make so that your children and grandchildren can enjoy a city that is healthier, happier and wonderfully liveable.”
The event highlighted the many phenomenal achievements of Bristol 2015 – not least, the way it brought communities across the city together through the funding of more than 200 local environmental projects, inspired 100,000-plus hours of voluntary work on green topics and involved 30,000 children in a schools programme.
On a national and international scale, too, its initiatives provided a shining example for other cities to follow. George Ferguson revealed how a recent letter from the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission applauded Bristol for “setting the bar higher than any preceding Green City.” The Mayor added: “That makes us feel very proud. I will take all the criticism for what we did wrong, but that pales into insignificance compared with the things we did right.”
The importance of maintaining momentum was stressed by Liz Zeidler, chair of the Green Capital Partnership, who said that one of the most striking aspects of Bristol’s year had been the difference in scale it demonstrated – “not just in the number of organisations involved, but in what people felt capable of achieving.” She suggested that our “very bold ambitions to cut carbon emissions in this city can be beaten before our 2050 goal because there are now so many people who are prepared to work together to make it happen. “It’s a question of not saying – ‘what are they doing?’ – more a matter of ‘what we are doing’.”
Barra Mac Ruairi, Bristol City Council’s Strategic Director of Place, said the “momentum, ownership and understanding” of sustainability issues established through Bristol 2015 would be invaluable in supporting the city’s development strategy for the future.
The Colston Hall finale turned the spotlight on many of the new community initiatives that sprang up during the year. The illuminated, multi-coloured umbrellas that made such a striking impact at the opening ceremony a year ago, were there again – carried with great pride at the very end by Bristol schoolchildren. So was Shaun the Sheep, whose fame spread to an even greater worldwide audience after Bristol 2015 teamed up with Aardman Animations to create a new ‘Sustainable Shaun’ game. Green Capital chairman Andrew Garrad took great delight in telling the audience: “At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December, 196 countries signed the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate accord. “Of those, 76% are playing Sustainable Shaun!” Bristol’s wonderful year proved an inspiration to countless local organisations and individuals. Here are just two examples:
Let’s Walk Bedminster: Frustrated that their streets had been reduced to obstacle courses by poorly parked cars, abandoned recycling bins and more, a Bedminster resident group set about making the area walkable again, as well as tidying up waste ground and creating new garden areas. The scheme, organiser Ben Barker told the audience, had been so successful that Bedminster was now working with 40 different community groups to expand the initiative across Bristol.
Raquel Meseguer, volunteer co-ordinator of Bristol Energy Co-operative, which raises funds to install community-owned solar farms and other solar installations on community buildings. “A year ago, I had only a faint interest in green issues,” she explained. “But I wanted to volunteer and do something that helped achieve things by advocating small behavioural changes. Thanks to Bristol 2015, it led me to the Energy Co-operative and it has been an inspiring experience.”