Queens Square Bristol. Credit: Chris Bahn, Bristol Design; Queens Square Bristol. Credit: Chris Bahn, Bristol Design;

Bristol One City Climate Strategy, Bristol

Creating a strategy for a carbon neutral and climate-resilient city by 2030

The Bristol One City Climate Strategy sets out objectives for the city to become carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030. Delivered in just three months from strategy inception to launch, the strategy outlines the work that needs to happen at a local, regional, national and international level, including changes to legislation, infrastructure and finance, to achieve these ambitious targets.

In 2019, the mayor of Bristol set up the Bristol One City Environmental Sustainability Board to help accelerate the city’s progress towards environmental sustainability. Arup’s climate change specialists were appointed to develop a climate strategy for Bristol.

Bristol City Council recognised the need to work with the wider city to develop a strategy that would create a pathway to reach this challenging aim, one which requires a radical rethink of how people in the city live, work and invest, and that would act as a call for action to the city’s people and businesses. Bristol hopes to lead the way for other cities to achieve net zero.

The Bristol One City Climate Strategy is one of the first of its kind to include scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions – tackling not only emissions created within the city, but also the wider consumption-based carbon footprints of residents and businesses.

Project Summary

3 month production window from strategy inception to launch

10key themes covered

300+participants at public engagement events

The One City Climate Strategy

The Bristol One City Climate Strategy sets out five key principles – that outcomes would be fair, transformative, evidence-based, collaborative and able to evolve in line with emerging technologies, changing community behaviours and new scientific findings. With a clear position on the need for transformative action, the strategy sets the framework for stakeholders across the city to take action, building on Bristol’s successes and challenges to date. 

Bristol Climate Strategy - 10 themes Bristol Climate Strategy - 10 themes
The strategy has 10 delivery themes highlighting where action is needed to achieve the vision for Bristol in 2030.

A strategy that is fair to all

All people who live, work and play in the city will be involved in the delivery of climate action. Each of the activities in the Bristol One City Climate Strategy, including engagement, data collection and evidence base development, were tailored to ensure that the final strategy supports and enables a fair transition for the city that is accessible and possible for all. This means that the areas of climate action all support Bristol in securing wider benefits of social, economic and environmental equality.

Developing an evidence base

The strategy was based on evidence reports and collective knowledge of the city. Supported by the University of Leeds, we produced emissions studies and a baseline emissions gap analysis. We developed case studies of businesses’ current emissions reduction efforts and prepared a preliminary climate resilience assessment for the city using existing data and information on climate vulnerability and climate hazards. Our team examined projected changes in these vulnerabilities and hazards based on the best climate science, the sensitivity of local systems to hazards, and the ability of systems, organisations or people to adjust to events, respond to consequences or take advantage of opportunities. We also worked with other stakeholders to interpret their evidence base – in particular, the work of the Centre for Sustainable Energy in their assessment actions to deliver net zero for scope 1 and 2 emissions. 

A strategy that embodies ‘One City’ principles

Engagement was key to ensure that the strategy reflected the vision and ambitions of the collective Bristol community. The development of both the strategy and evidence base was steered by a range of stakeholders in the city’s Environment Board as well as advice and challenge from the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change (BACCC). The BACCC includes climate change experts and stakeholders from academic, public, private, and civil society. Despite the rapid strategy delivery, the development process incorporated engagement with businesses, organisations, charities and people from across the city in a series of one-to-one discussions, workshops and public events involving over 300 stakeholders.

A respectful and collegiate atmosphere between the Bristol City Council and Arup teams ensured that everyone played their parts quickly and with a positive attitude, contributing to the fast pace of delivery of the strategy. ” Alex Ivory Climate Change Team Manager, Bristol City Council

Aerial view over Bristol, UK. Credit: Unsplash Aerial view over Bristol, UK. Credit: Unsplash

Creating lasting change

Since its launch by the Environmental Board in February 2020, the strategy has already instigated change in the city. A range of organisations, including local authorities, universities, dioceses, the local Chamber of Commerce and several utilities companies have formally endorsed the strategy. Anchor institutions in the city that have declared climate emergencies will now use it as a basis for their delivery plans. Bristol’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change will ensure that there is clear accountability to deliver the strategy and continue to work with local governments and city partners to review and revise the strategy for its success.