Bristol Greens have called on the Government and Bristol Council to take emergency action in response to the latest report from the IPCC, which says humanity has just a decade left to make rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases or face widespread climate devastation.
The UN Secretary General António Guterres called the IPCC’s report “code red for humanity” and warned that “there is no time for delay and no room for excuses”. The report, released less than three months before the key COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, says human activity has “unequivocally” caused rapid and some irreversible changes to the global climate. It calls for urgent action to cut emissions and stabilise warming to a 1.5°C increase. Beyond this level, at 2°C and higher, the impact of climate change would become even more serious and intense.
Councillor Carla Denyer, the Green Group’s Shadow Cabinet member for Climate and Ecology, said:
“We’ve all seen the devastation caused by recent floods in Germany and fires across the world – the IPCC report is clear that extreme weather and flooding is intensifying and will only worsen as our planet gets hotter. Bristol already faces a high flooding risk – according to a council report, 23,000 residential properties are currently at risk of tidal and surface water flooding. In the long term the IPCC report notes that even with warming constrained to 1.5°C (which will take a serious effort) we could see a rise in sea levels of two to three metres. Under the worst scenarios we could see that level of increase much sooner. And flooding doesn’t just affect those in low-lying areas. For every person who suffers flooding, around 16 others are affected by a loss of services such as transport and power.
“Global warming is no longer a hypothetical problem for some people in the distant future to solve. Climate change is already here affecting us, and it’s only going to get more extreme if we fail to act – policymakers cannot afford to keep delaying and dithering. But if there’s one glimmer of good news from the IPCC’s report it’s this – it’s still not too late to make a difference. If countries work together and act fast we still can avoid the worst possible outcomes for our planet. The COP26 climate summit the UK is hosting in October could be a turning point for the world. As host nation the UK has a chance to lead by example – for too long all we’ve heard from the Conservative government is pledges and fine words with no action to back them up. We urgently need investment in housing insulation and public transport – a Green New Deal for the UK.”
Fellow Green Councillor and co-Shadow Cabinet member Lily Fitzgibbon added:
“But it’s not enough to wait for national governments to act – we must take action locally as well. In 2018 Bristol declared a climate emergency, following a motion Carla put to the council, and set a bold target for the city to go carbon neutral by 2030. At the time there were twelve years to act – there are now just nine left. But much like the government in Westminster, there’s been a lot of talk but little real action from Bristol Council. In the Labour Mayor’s previous term, his party repeatedly blocked Green proposals to tackle the climate emergency – divesting pensions from fossil fuels, funding to retrofit council houses, an annual budget for new cycle infrastructure. I hope Bristol will see more engagement with Green ideas from the Labour administration now the evidence is so overwhelming and the stakes are so high. We need to put the city on a footing to a cleaner, greener future and we can’t afford to wait for the private sector or the government to come to our rescue.”
Before Lily was elected as Green councillor this May, she was co-founder and organiser of Bristol Youth Strike for Climate, who organised youth strikes against Airport expansion throughout the Summer of 2019, as well as Greta Thunberg’s visit to Bristol last February. Lily recently clashed with the Labour Mayor over his support for Bristol airport’s expansion plans. She added:
“One immediate issue we need local authorities to challenge is Bristol Airport’s plans for expansion. This is the biggest climate decision our city and region have faced in decades. If approved the airport’s expansion would generate an extra million tons of CO2 each year, making a mockery of Bristol’s carbon targets. The airport is currently appealing North Somerset’s decision to reject these plans – now is a crucial time and Marvin Rees must get off the fence and make a clear statement to the planning inquiry to object to the airport’s proposals.”