In the wake of COP21, and the end of Bristol’s year as European Green Capital, Daniella Radice, Green Party Assistant Mayor tells Copyright how the world’s environmental issues could be addressed at a local level

I left Paris in a strangely optimistic mood. The reason for my optimism, the fringe events I took part in at COP21, talking to people from municipalities from all over the world who are simply getting on with reducing carbon emissions, setting themselves goals and putting plans in place to meet them. Places like Heidelberg, Germany, with the help of its national government, and Vancouver, Canada, despite a government that had— until recently—promoted fossil fuels.

Bristol currently gets 25 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. This includes wind turbines and solar PV which is spreading across the city. Vancouver is off to a head start because it benefits from hydro-electric schemes built in the 1950s and 60s, but is struggling to decarbonise transport. Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, is well on the way to being 100 per cent renewable with an extensive tram network and more and more electric cars.

Having listened to representatives from both cities I think becoming 100 per cent renewable is within our reach. We need to harness local tidal energy, take advantage of heat networks, ensure we build carbon positive new builds—like the new Hab housing development in Southmead, retrofit all our existing heat-leaky homes and finally, invest in a fleet of non-fossil fuelled buses.

The French government facilitated a world summit on climate and territories in Lyon last July and I am pleased to say that Bristol features in their booklet with our Integrated Approach to Food Resilience work with URBACT. The summit brought together local government, NGOs, businesses, trade unions and indigenous peoples to make a joint statement on their goals for the climate summit. The result was a declaration which I was there to adopt on behalf of our city, asking the international community to keep global warming below 2°, preferably 1.5°. It also asks that national governments recognise the contribution that all these other organisations will be able to make to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stressed the importance of including development issues in any agreements.

Bristol is internationally recognised as a leading city in its efforts to be green. But, if we are serious about decarbonising our economy, in my opinion, we need to think about becoming a 100 per cent renewable energy and zero waste city, and take a long-term approach to our local food system. This will take a while, so we need to start now.

Follow Daniella on twitter @GreenDaniella