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Bold leadership, radical action What Bristol residents want on climate change... EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4

Authors:
Bold leadership,
radical action
What Bristol
residents want
on climate
change...
Research leads:
Emilia Melville, Jack Nicholls
and Hen Wilkinson
Researchers:
Noor Evers, Ulises Munguia Fonseca,
Sarah Horsell, Beth Neale, Mercy Okoro,
Isabel Stokes, Camille Straatman and Dan Taylor
Research advisors, University of Bristol:
Professor Martin Parker - Lead for the Bristol
Inclusive Economy initiative, Department
of Management
Ed Atkins - School of Geographical Sciences
Report written by:
Hen Wilkinson, Jack Nicholls and Emilia Melville
with inputs from Noor Evers, Beth Neale,
Isabel Stokes and Camille Straatman
The project report was funded by the UK Research
and Innovation Quality-Related Strategic Priorities
Fund in 2019-20 as the ‘Mapping Climate Change
Discourses’ project.
This research is a Praxis production -
participatory insights for social, economic
and environmental change
praxis-research.co.uk
emilia@praxis-research.co.uk
jack@praxis-research.co.uk
November 2020
3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
4 RESEARCH APPROACH
6 RESIDENT VIEWS
6 How climate change is framed
7 Awareness of local policies
9 How responses diered across the city
11 Visions for the future
11 Impact of Covid-19 on research responses
12 Residents’ most talked-about topics
14 Taking action: who’s responsible?
16 Citywide leadership
18 THE ONE CITY PLAN: CURRENT
CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION POLICY
18 Bristol’s current climate policy context
19 2030 themes and objectives
22 CURRENT STRATEGY IN LIGHT
OF RESIDENTS’ VIEWS
22 Transport
23 Buildings and Heat decarbonisation
23 Electricity
23 Consumption and waste
24 Business and Public service
24 Natural environment
24 Food
24 Infrastructure interdependence
25 IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
3
Executive summary
This research set out to establish what ordinary
people in Bristol think about climate change, how they
talk about it, and how it aects their lives. We asked
residents what they know about current local policies,
and what they would or would not want to see if
changes have to happen in the city.
As a result, this report foregrounds the voices of
Bristol residents. We hope it will be of use and interest
to all those who live and work in the city, including
those who took part and who asked to see the
final report; to anyone involved in climate change
communication in Bristol, whether in Bristol City
Council, the Bristol Green Capital Partnership or other
business and civil society organisations; and to Bristol
climate change strategy leaders and policy makers,
including the One City Environmental Sustainability
Board and Bristol City Council and WECA mayors,
councillors and ocers.
In February and March 2020, a team of eight
researchers spoke to 333 residents across Bristol,
covering both the centre and the outskirts and
selecting as broad a range of people to talk to as
possible. We were determined to hear the views of
people who don’t often get heard by policy makers.
Following lockdown, we created an online survey
asking the same questions and promoted this
through Bristol 24-7 and Bristol Post in June 2020.
A further 1343 residents took part online, answering
an additional question about whether Covid-19 had
shifted their views on climate change in any way.
Thanks to the huge volume of responses to our online
survey, we collected a unique data set given its time
of collection and breadth of participation. There is
far more information there to unearth and share,
and this report is the first of several that we hope to
write. However, early analysis of the interviews and
responses led to the following insights:
Bristol residents are concerned about climate
change and this fear both motivates willingness
to change and holds people back from action.
Transport is the biggest area of concern, talked
about both before and during the Covid-19
lockdown.
Residents are willing to see radical change in
the city and are frustrated with the lack of visible
steps that have been taken so far.
Equality and fairness is important to Bristolians,
including an expectation that all sectors should pull
their weight and that the costs of adaptation
should not be carried by, or lead to the exclusion
of, those least able to pay.
Residents expect a high level of integrity from
Bristol City Council and goodwill towards
the council is undermined when policies
are perceived as contradictory or not
followed through.
In the report, we reflect on what Bristol residents
had to say through the prism of the One City Climate
Strategy, in order to see how well the aspirations and
implications of that plan are understood and endorsed
by Bristolians. Our observations about that are
summarised in a series of brief recommendations at
the end of the report, reflecting on aspects of climate
change communication that could catalyse action. We
hope that the report makes a useful contribution to the
ongoing conversation about Bristol’s response to the
climate emergency.
Jack Nicholls
Hen Wilkinson
Emilia Melville
November 2020
RESEARCH APPROACH
4
The research set out to bring residents’ views
and experiences about the impacts of the climate
emergency on Bristol to strategic leadership teams
in the run up to the Mayoral elections set for May
2020. In the event, those elections were postponed
because of Covid-19 (now due to be held in 2021, date
to be confirmed at time of writing). However, as data
collection was already well underway, the research
continued through lockdown, shifting the focus to
include residents’ views about mitigation strategies
required to face climate challenges.
Research team
The research was led by three senior researchers
connected to the University of Bristol and with links to
two Bristol-based organisations, Community Resolve
and Zero West. The research project had the backing
of the Bristol Inclusive Economy Initiative and the
School of Geographical Sciences. It also provided
an opportunity to train and support a team of eight
University of Bristol postgraduates and undergraduates
in the research process, supported by the university’s
Professional Liaison Network. Over several months,
the student researchers became deeply involved in all
aspects of the qualitative research process from data
collection and analysis through to contributions to this
final report. The depth of the information generated
and in this report is thanks to their exceptional work
from early to mid 2020.
Methodology
The research team worked in pairs across the city,
talking to residents about what they knew and felt
about the policies and strategies in place to tackle
climate emergency impacts in Bristol. By sending
researchers out across the entire city, we were
deliberately looking to engage people of the widest
range of backgrounds, and especially wanted to talk
to residents whose views on climate change are not
usually heard. Through January, February and early
March 2020, researchers used a short 10-minute
interview to collect information on:
How people in the city think and talk about climate
change and its impacts in the city
Specific concerns, hopes and wants of dierent
communities across the city
Levels of awareness and acceptance of Bristol City
Council’s climate policies and activities
Ideas for action.
Research approach
RESEARCH APPROACH
5
Interview questions
1. Can I start by asking your postcode?
2. What comes to mind when you think of
climate change?
3. How does it make you feel?
4. Are you aware of any planned changes
in the city in relation to climate change?
5. Can you give us an example of a change
local to you?
6. Are there any future changes you would
want to see? Why?
7. Any you wouldn’t want to see? Why?
8. Where do you get your information
about the city? And about future plans?
9. What makes it believable? Do you trust
some sources more than others?
10. Anything else you would like to add?
Additional question for the online survey:
Has Covid-19 aected your views on 'what
actions to take in relation to climate change?
If so, how?
The research team had completed 333 interviews
before face-to-face interviews had to stop in mid March
as Covid-19 took hold in the UK. However, we also
posted the survey questions online and a further 1343
Bristol residents answered the same set of questions
online, with the addition of one question asking
whether the experience of Covid-19 had changed their
thinking in relation to climate change.
The team then moved on to identifying key themes
and ideas in the responses we had collected, working
both individually, in pairs and as a whole team with
the research leads. We put our main focus on the
responses from the people we spoke to face to face,
as we recognise that those who took part in the survey
might already have had a stronger interest in climate
change than those we spoke at random. As a result,
the themes presented in this report are led by those we
found in the face-to-face interviews, which were then
double checked against the online survey responses.
‘The best thing about taking part
in the research has been meeting
people that we wouldn’t usually
talk to and getting to know Bristol
residents outside of the usual
‘bubble’. I really liked this being
so local to Bristol’
Feedback from trainee researcher on the team
WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
6
In this section we set out the main themes that
emerged from residents’ responses to our questions.
We draw mainly on the pre-lockdown face-to-face
interviews on streets across all Bristol postcodes but
also include comments from the online survey where
appropriate. Here, we have grouped the main themes
that emerged into the following sections:
1. How climate change is framed
2. Awareness of local policies
3. How responses diered across the city
4. Visions for the future
5. Impact of Covid-19 on research responses
6. Residents’ most talked-about topics
7. Taking action: who’s responsible?
8. Citywide leadership
1. How climate change is framed
We asked Bristol residents a series of questions to
try and understand how they frame climate change
and what terminology they use to describe it. When
asked what came to mind when they thought of or
felt about climate change as a whole, residents talked
of their fear, sadness and anger. Only 20 people we
spoke to questioned the reality of climate change,
revealing a widespread consensus across Bristol that
climate change is happening and that it is worrying
the local population.
Residents had many dierent points of connection to
the topic, ranging from extreme weather events to the
destruction of livelihoods, but generally spoke of their
fear of global large-scale impacts such as the melting
icecaps, the extinction of polar bears or changes in
weather patterns. Interestingly, these are all ‘far away’
conceptualisations of the climate emergency
and its impacts. This awareness of the crisis as a long-
term issue with future catastrophic eects is reflected
in responses we collected across all the questions.
What
residents
think:
a summary
of feedback
we received
7
It became clear that many residents are fearful for
future generations, especially in relation to their own
children or future children and descendants rather than
for themselves. Reflecting on how Bristol residents
seem to construct the climate emergency as abstract
and distant, we wondered how much this disconnect
relates to the sorts of information they are receiving on
climate change. It was notable that residents referred
more easily to large international headlines on the
topic, perhaps because these received the most media
publicity (the David Attenborough eect) or were more
often discussed in social situations.
More than one resident shared their thoughts about
how communications around climate could change to
give more impetus to local action.
-‘I don’t think it will be a dierence for me in this
lifetime, but I am concerned for other people
both in the future and in other places… in poorer
countries’
-‘Future generations are going to see things
we can’t imagine’
-‘This is not the world I want to leave for my
grandchildren’
When we specifically asked people about climate
change impacts at a level local to them, many
residents struggled to come up with anything they
could think of. As one participant said, ‘we don’t see
a lot of the eects of climate change. Floods [are] the
main way I think we get aected’. Most responses
related to flooding and ‘more extreme weather’,
‘chaotic weather patterns’ and ‘crazy weather’,
although in research such as this findings are always
influenced by what’s happening at the time. There
was some exceptionally wet weather in Bristol in late
February and early March 2020 as interviews were
being collected.
Dierent ways
‘emotion’ is
referred to
Mentions relating
to emotion in 333
interviews
Guilt 24
Hope 43
Apathy 77
Sadness 84
Anger 88
Fear 146
Distrust / uncertainty 246
Residents' feelings about climate change
2. Awareness of local policies
We also asked questions to try and establish where
Bristolians get their ideas about climate change from
and how they best take on board – or might take on
board – new information, including the need for shifts
in their own lifestyles.
There was a noticeable lack of awareness among
Bristol residents of current policy and strategic actions
already in place. When asked what planned local policy
shifts they are aware of, roughly 90% of residents
spoke about transport, with some 70% mentioning
the Clean Air Zone and generally referring to it as ‘the
diesel ban’. As the proposed ban was in the news in
Bristol and nationally at the time, it was perhaps at the
forefront of people’s minds. Nonetheless, for many
residents ‘the ban’ seems to be the only policy shift
in relation to climate change that they are know of.
Policies in other sustainability areas - such as changes
in consumption and waste recycling - were mentioned
by just half of those who took part in the research.
The focus on transport in people’s minds could be
because transport issues and the related ‘diesel ban’
seem more relevant to their lives than other climate
mitigation strategies, impacting more directly on their
purses and their livelihoods. However, residents were
still noticeably vague about the Clean Air Zone, with
a lack of clarity about what it hopes to achieve, where
and from when it will be applicable and how it is going
to be enforced. This suggests that there is something
‘I wish there was more talk
about local climate change
impacts’
WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
Where people get information from
While Bristolians seem to collect information on
climate change from a range of sources, our
responses suggested that they tend to trust
information from Bristol City Council on climate
change initiatives over other news or social media
outlets. Nonetheless, there were also significant
levels of distrust shared with our researchers, often
linked to an assessment of the perceived integrity
of policy decisions and visible follow-through of
proposed ideas.
Among the many issues raised around climate
change communication was the fact that information
from the Council was not easily accessible. Some
talked of how they found the website confusing,
with one person asking the researcher if they could
recommend any good sources or reliable information
about Council plans:
-‘I have no knowledge of any policy that is
being put in place in response to the climate
emergency.
-‘We don’t know how to access information...
you cannot just walk into the town hall and ask
for information.
-‘They are likely to portray their plans in a positive
light and will erase any missed opportunities
from the text’
Asked about local actions people were aware of, a
notable response was considerable disillusionment
about Bristol City Council’s stated intentions versus
the actual implementation of policies. Residents
describe this as a failure to follow through with
initiatives or to introduce policy shifts that are radical
enough to aect real change. To some degree,
this could reflect a lack of understanding of policy
‘practicalities’, with some people attributing policies
such as ineective public transport to the City Council
or local government alone. Others, though, clearly
understood the limitations of what the Council
can achieve:
- ‘It all seems a bit bleak with this government in
power at the moment - constrains what the City
Council can do even if they are willing’
-‘The City Council ultimately has to respond,
but the big decisions rest at national and
international levels’
-‘I am hopeful for Bristol pioneering change, but it
is the big companies and governments that need
to make changes right now.
Information source Resident answers
Social media 49
Bristol Post 44
Facebook 42
Newspapers 37
Word of mouth 37
TV 32
Bristol City Council 30
Radio 20
Cable 11
Bristol 24-7 10
Leaflets / flyers / posters 10
Guardian 7
else at play here too, around what information is
reaching them and how much they are taking in.
Other highly significant policies that are already
in place in Bristol were rarely mentioned, either in
person or online. We expected online respondents
to show more familiarity with local climate change
strategies but even then, those who answered ‘yes’
to knowing about local climate change policies could
only name one or two.
This lack of knowledge and awareness about actual
or planned policy changes is striking. Does it relate
to a lack of interest in citywide strategic thinking, and/
or reflect the quality and accessibility of strategic
communications about climate change at a local
level? This in turn leads to further questions about
how and where information about local climate
mitigation strategies are shared - for example, where
do residents seek out such information and which
sources do they trust the most when they do? When
asked about this, people talked about social media
and other media outlets which they trusted, as well as
the importance of word of mouth.
8WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
3. How responses diered across the city
A key aim of this research was to talk to people across
the entire city. As the maps below show, we collected
a good spread of responses, both face-to-face and via
the online survey. Researchers intentionally targeted
specific areas where responses were low, but this
was cut short due to Covid-19 leading to greater
representation of more central areas.
In the interviews on Bristol streets, dierent
perspectives emerged from dierent areas of the city,
most noticeably around the proposed Clean Air Zone.
In the city’s more central areas, those living in or close
to the edges of the diesel ban zone expressed fears
that it will create more diesel trac and will actually
adversely aect air quality and congestion in their
areas. As one participant in St Pauls pointed out,
‘The diesel ban for the centre has more to do with air
quality than climate change, but will aect BS2 really
badly because people will just drive around outside
the city centre more. St Pauls (part of Bristol’s BS2
postcode area) is very close to the city centre and yet
not part of the identified zone. Its non-inclusion seems
to have exacerbated a general feeling of the area
being ignored in city policy, possibly as part of a wider
process of historical neglect.
Those living on the outskirts of Bristol and just beyond
frequently drew attention to what they see as a lack
of coherence and cross-area thinking in relation to
public transport. Many suggested that their areas had
been ‘left behind’ by recent transport policy. Among
9WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
Participant postcodes:
Face-to-face interviews
Participant postcodes:
Online survey
the many many comments we collected, people
called for investment in a ‘better transport system
across the city, not just the centre’, with requests for
previously discontinued train and bus stops to be
brought back and for more runs in non-central areas.
Others suggested that with the introduction of a Clean
Air Zone there is no easy and accessible way for them
to access the city centre.
-‘One change local to us has not been helpful at
all. The link road might help with congestion in
the city but pushes trac into dierent zones.
A country road has now become a main road -
just as congested - and we are badly aected.
-‘Extend the cycle path to Clevedon to Yatton to
promote cycling, not car use’
-‘People feel negative about the driving ban,
like it’s isolating South Bristol. I understand the
reasons for it but what about people from South
Bristol? How are they going to access North
Bristol and the motorway - it's already dicult
enough as it is.
Some participants expressed their frustrations about
the eect of the policy on local business in the
outskirts. Many use vehicles for business reasons and
cannot necessarily aord to change their vehicles to
fit in with the diesel ban in the city centre.
10 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
4. Visions for the future
Running through all of the responses we collected,
online and face-to-face, there is a sense of concern
about the lack of positive action in relation to climate
change impacts on Bristol. A clear appetite for what is
described as ‘real’ change is expressed as a strong
desire to see more concrete actions and leadership
relating to mitigation strategies. When we asked
residents what changes they would and would not
want to see, a very frequent response was ‘any
change is good’.
There is a sense that despite climate change impacts
being such a pressing issue, what has been achieved
to date in Bristol is essentially lip service. Our
research suggests that a demand for more radical
policy is backed up by a willingness to engage with
significant and disruptive change if required, as
long as residents understand how strategies will be
eective and are confident that they will be carried
through with integrity. Of the 333 people approached
randomly on Bristol streets, 121 said that they were
willing to accept most changes, although a quarter
of those would oppose changes which exacerbated
existing inequalities or ‘punished poor people’.
Most shifts that people want to see relate to the realm
of policy, although this was often paired with distrust
and negative opinions about the likelihood of change
happening. Overall people seem to feel that the city
needs to go further, and faster.
-‘I need to make changes for myself soon in order
to survive later or for my children to survive, we
need system change NOW’
-‘Lifestyle restrictions are not appealing, but more
appealing than an apocalyptic world for my child
- so any change is good’
-‘Slow change, doing nothing, frustration that
despite all the talk we are not implementing
anything or engaging the public to get them on
board. We are doing far too little to make the
changes necessary.
Many people spoke positively about initiatives
introduced by individuals and groups, citing
civil actions, personal action and eorts to raise
awareness. There was a recognition, though, that this
alone was not enough:
-‘I feel powerless because the solution is not
individuals doing things. You need broader
system change, a world-wide revolution.
It is already too late, we can only do damage-
control now. I'm not going to have children
because of this.
-Anger. Government inaction, corporate
corruption, low levels of attempt, just small things
like plastic and can recycling. We need systemic
change.
-All ideas so far are tinkering at the edges’
5. Impact of Covid-19
We were interested in whether the experience of
Covid-19 had an impact on the willingness of Bristol
residents to accept change and alter their own
behaviours. Our online survey results collected in
June, during the UK lockdown, presented us with an
amazing opportunity to gather a snapshot of people’s
feelings at such a unique moment in time.
A clear overall response to the question ‘Has Covid-19
aected your views on what actions we should
take in relation to climate change? If so, how?’ was
yes. The fast response of governments and local
authorities to the pandemic, as well as population
buy-in to necessary curbs on behaviour, made the
idea of taking action on climate all the more urgent
and possible.
-‘The global response shows how quickly
countries can respond to threats, it has shown
what is possible when decisive action is taken by
governments. We can change if the government
enables us to change, major change can happen
if there is political will.
-‘If we can adapt so quickly to the changes forced
on us by the pandemic then I feel sure we can
do the same for the climate emergency. Covid-19
has forced people to use it as an opportunity
to create real, radical, lasting change to cities,
showing that global action on important issues
is possible.
11 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
A city like Bristol could be
a shining example of change
It seems clear Covid-19 did change views for many on
what actions the city should take in relation to climate
change (though not all). People expressed how
working from home was a ‘win-win’ situation, saving
money for businesses, saving time for workers in
commuting and saving emissions because of the drop
in trac. Responses spoke of how:
The environment seemed to get better during
Covid-19, noting the lack of pollution during
lockdown, the clear sky, bird song and clean rivers
as real positives
Less cars were a positive thing, demonstrating
how much better Bristol can be for residents and
visitors with minimal trac
More work from home reduced the need to travel
as much as before
The pent-up demand and appetite for cycling
became evident as the dangers associated with
cars, vans and lorries in the city was reduced
The poor cycling road infrastructure in Bristol
should be improved, focussing on more and better
cycle lanes to keep up the appetite for cycling and
to encourage more cycling behaviours
There should be more support for infrastructure
investment in alternative transport systems to
cars, making these ‘go to’ methods of travel for
residents
Air quality should be prioritized more now we
have had a glimpse of what improvements that
would bring to day-to-day lives
Protecting the environment has become more of
a priority once residents realized how much it had
been taken for granted
Equality of impact is important to people.
As those who took part online also noted, Covid-19
made the idea of personal responsibility more
prominent as well as foregrounding the huge change
authorities at all levels can make if they have political
will and really put eort into action. Many expressed
hope that the pandemic experience is a moment of
opportunity for Bristol (as long as the policy makers
move fast), redirecting the city toward meaningful
policy shifts and encouraging the acceptance of
individual lifestyle adjustments.
However, a good number of participants inevitably
worried about the potential downsides of the Covid-19
experience, including undermining previous climate
change gains in Bristol such as the increased use of
public transport:
-‘It shows that our actions really do make a
dierence and that joint eorts - local, national
and international - can potentially make a huge
dierence’
-‘I’m worried that public transport will be
decimated as we obviously can't rely on public
transportation being safe so people will likely
need to continue to drive to work. It's more
important than ever to encourage walking and
cycling.
-‘It was vital we did something before Covid,
and I feel that Covid will be used as an excuse
to do nothing’
-‘I think that Covid has made a lot of people think
that the climate crisis can't be that important if
the conversation can be dropped. But climate
change will kill more people than Covid-19 did if it
isn't addressed urgently.
6. Residents’ most talked-about topics
The most prominent reflections on where changes
are needed in Bristol related to public transport, with
other areas of focus including consumption and waste;
the built environment and green spaces; energy;
safeguarding nature; and pollution. There is a clear
desire for more concrete policy and action in all these
areas at a local level.
TRANSPORT
Although there is recognition that some public
transport reforms have already been made, residents
feel that more is needed, with requests centring
around reliability, accessibility and aordability.
At present, car use is by far the most convenient
way to cross Bristol and to reach the outskirts, but
many residents are calling for more integrated and
environmentally friendly transport networks in order
to reduce car use and air pollution. The amount of
trac, congestion and the perceived unreliability
and inaccessibility of the public transport system are
heavily criticised, alongside a lack of decent cycling
infrastructure. The overwhelming response to the
12 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime
chance for meaningful change’
Clean Air Zone and diesel ban is that it does not
represent enough change - only aecting the city
centre and more cosmetic than providing a lasting
structural solution.
-‘Need more decent public transport and a mass
overhaul - not just tweaking little bits around
the edges’
-‘Improve public transport. PEOPLE NEED TO USE
LESS CARS. Underground, cheaper buses, FREE
BUSES! RADICAL CHANGES’
-‘We need a cycling infrastructure that is not
subservient to the needs of motor trac - this
needs to change as it is not safe and discourages
use of bikes’
POLLUTION AND AIR QUALITY
Closely related to the theme of transport is that of
pollution, seen as a huge problem in Bristol. This was
talked about both in the interviews we collected before
lockdown and also in the online survey in June. Online
responses also commented on the poor quality of air
in the city, in one case describing the city centre as
'choking' and 'horrible':
-‘Bad air. We have one of the worst in the country,
and there is no excuse for it. How did we win
European Green Capital? Every time I breathe,
I taste pollution.
-‘Clean air must be the baseline that drives
environmental policy in our city, a very heavily
polluted city’
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
This is an area of serious concern for residents, whose
responses covered a wide range of topics from out-of-
control construction to the related loss of green spaces
and wildlife around Bristol. A number of the responses
we collected contained strong emotion, from anger, fear
and apathy to a lack of agency, mistrust and sadness.
The importance of preserving and even increasing
green spaces came up repeatedly, with an emphasis on
how new builds should be environmentally sustainable
and not on green sites. Residents also drew attention
to the phenomenon of ‘development without nearby
amenities/ public transport links’, with people in the
Bristol periphery pointing out how this meant they had
to rely on cars and commuting to the Centre for work,
schools and basic services.
Transport improvements wanted
Investment into transport infrastructure such
as Bristol railways, tram networks
Improvement to bus services
More frequent services, green buses- biofuel
/ biogas
Aordable, accessible and reliable public
transport
More concessions on public transport to
encourage take-up
Pedestrianisation / no car zones
Cycle lanes/ better cycling routes and better
bike hire schemes
Cycling infrastructure that puts cyclists on a
par with the needs of cars/lorries
Promotion of electric cars / charging points
Trac reduction plans, including reduction of
cars in the City Centre.
-‘They should take a firmer stance on
development on green space, to protect it.
Building on green space takes away barriers...
I live in quite a green area but I don't know how
long that will last.
-‘Buildings, development… everywhere you look
they're putting up new houses’
-‘Where's the transport and infrastructure when
they build new houses?’
People also highlight how the construction process
itself is polluting, as well as the building materials
used. There are calls for construction to become more
sustainable, reusing spaces, with less emissions, less
concrete and the introduction of renewable options like
solar panels. There is particular criticism of new builds
and most especially of high rises.
As in other areas of concern, people talked about the
need for support for lower-income households and
those living on the streets, especially in relation to new
construction and aordable housing. The comments
from the face-to-face interviews were echoed and
heightened in the online survey, perhaps in response to
how residents became increasingly dependent on local
green spaces during lockdown:
13 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
-All the council wants to do is build’
-‘Local to me is now construction projects - cranes
and building sites. Concrete is also very polluting
– the biggest polluter of all.
-‘Do more for the homeless - all the big buildings
empty - you could use them to keep people o
the streets’
-‘Use land for local food gardens instead of
construction. There is lots of abandoned property
in Bristol that could be reused.
-‘Plant more trees, more green spaces,
and preserve them’
CONSUMPTION AND WASTE
Many residents mentioned consumption and waste,
perhaps because these issues are part of our
everyday lives or maybe because of all the recent
media coverage about plastics. It may also be that
these are areas where people feel they can take
action themselves, although they recognise that this
alone is not enough to combat climate change.
Residents have noted changes in relation to
consumption and waste recycling policy and practice
‘Definitely more awareness, people are trying a bit
more at work. People bring their own tupperware’ -
but also see these as areas where more is needed.
For many, the approach is too superficial:
-‘Stu masqueraded as solution when it isn't’
-‘Government inaction, corporate corruption, low
levels of attempt, just small things like plastic and
can recycling. We need systemic change. Ban
plastic and cans altogether.’
-‘They should publish statistics on how much of
our recycling is actually recycled’
7. Taking action: who’s responsible?
Overall, the emerging picture is of confusion and
helplessness with residents feeling that their ability to
act is limited. There is a perception of climate change
as too big to solve, diminishing their sense of being
able to make a meaningful contribution. Many people
express how they are trying to ‘do their part’ but are
aware of this only being a relatively small contribution
to climate change action. For some, this is leading to a
reluctance to engage, as just thinking about it causes
negative emotions and cycles of despair:
-‘It’s already too late... nothing ever changes,
nothing seems to ever work’
-‘Not much individually I can do’
-‘I don’t think we can change it, it’s beyond
man’s control’
-‘It will happen no matter what, it’s going to
change, we can’t stop it’
-‘Hopeless, how can I stop it?’
-‘I can’t make any dierence on my own’
-‘On my own, I don’t have the power to change it’
-‘Hopeless, fear, terrified and desperate. But also
unfeeling and closed-o, disavowal. I go to work
pretending nothing is happening.
On the other hand, the responses also include
expressions of cautious optimism, some relating to
Bristol itself, others related to the active engagement of
younger generations and to the behavioural shifts they
know of personally or see happening around them:
-‘I have seen small local projects engage local
people in making their neighbourhoods better
and think those type of schemes have massive
potential. Council-run stu gets tied down with all
their other responsibilities/budgets etc. and goes
painfully slowly. I believe people are often quite
happy to do something if they are shown the way,
volunteering and donating to feel good.
-‘Youth are more aware and willing to change’
‘If we recycled every day of our
lives it still wouldn’t make a
difference’
14 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
‘Public transport is the issue’
Unsurprisingly, given such a complex and multi-faceted
issue, people express many contradictory positions,
sometimes across a single interview or survey response.
One prominent idea that emerged is that behavioural
change is seen as a civic duty that everyone should play
a part in. Interestingly, however, the language used to
explain this idea more often referred to ‘they’ or ‘people’
rather than to ‘I’ or ‘we’:
-‘People should change their eating habits, walk
more, drive less, eat less meat’
-‘Remind people to turn things o’
-‘People understand, but they take no initiative!’
-‘People could make changes, but not doing
anything’
-‘Disempowered because others don’t recognise
the problem’
-‘Public need to get more active’
How much do people think of themselves as part
of the ‘they’? In one interview, someone told us
‘government is not doing anything, people are not
doing anything’ while laughing about his plastic
bottle. It seems there is more to understand about
the relationship between ‘public awareness’ and
‘responsibility to act’. A number of responses
suggested that other people (rather than themselves)
need to be better educated on the matter as a route
to changing behaviours:
-‘I study science so I understand it, but what about
those who don’t?’
-‘I have a higher level of understanding, but there
needs to be more accessible information’
-‘More information for those who don’t actively
seek it’
One key theme in the online survey responses is that
any changes introduced in the city to mitigate climate
change impacts must be inclusive and not have a
disproportionate impact on lower socioeconomic
groups. Large numbers expressed how essential it was
that any future policy changes avoided exacerbating
financial inequalities in what is seen as an already very
unequal city.
This concern about the lack of equality included
references to the discrepancy of responsibility in relation
to climate change laid on big business at the one end
of the scale and on small businesses and the average
layperson at the other:
-‘Environmental taxes are regressive and aect
poor people most’
-‘Nothing that pushes people who are already
poor more into poverty’
-‘Small businesses follow the rules and get
penalized but big business gets away with
everything, greenwashing while small
business need to increase their prices
and then close down’
These sentiments highlight a sense of disillusionment
and anger among residents, with the potential knock-
on eect of increasing levels of apathy and a lack
of motivation in undertaking behavioural change.
People’s responses also suggest that a desire to be
‘responsible green citizens’ is hindered by a lack of
financial resources.
The idea of being ‘priced out of sustainability’
is expressed in many dierent ways, with
environmentalism regarded as a phenomenon only
open to the wealthy and well o. There is an overlap
here with residents’ responses about transport, which
they feel needs to be more aordable and accessible,
as well as a call for more financial support for other
sustainability initiatives.
-‘Schools do not have the money to pay for the
bins they need to help recycle - they [the Council]
should give them to the schools.
-‘Only middle-class people can aord to shop
like this, whereas poorer people are forced to
buy cheap shitty products… paper is significantly
more expensive than plastic [plates]
-‘With car changes, rich people can aord to buy
a new car but poor people cannot aord that’
-‘I don’t want more inequality - changes that aect
parts of society that aren’t well o’
15 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
‘Covid has made people
more aware of how unequal
the burdens are’
What Bristolians are saying
across the city...
16 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
‘Tell 'em to plant
more trees - what
they breathe out
we breathe inʼ
BS4
‘Stop putting houses
up where there are
no amenitiesʼ BS14
‘I would like to see
a plan from the
council on what their
intentions are’ BS1
‘Take the cars and buses
off the road and reduce
prices on trains - they're
so expensive’ BS10
‘The clean air was
so sweet you could
almost taste itʼ BS5
‘Public transport
istheissueʼ BS7
‘I have had a
delicious taste
of clean airʼ BS6
‘What about the
impact on the little
peopleʼ BS9
‘My brother thinks we
should get a wind
turbineʼ BS8
‘They were supposed
to be making the buses
more environmentally
friendly - electric - but it
didn't happenʼ BS3
‘I’m really scared
of the futureʼ
BS16
‘End of the worldʼ BS11
‘We’ve know about
this since the 60sʼ
BS13
‘I don’t think Bristol
takes climate change
that seriouslyʼ BS15
‘Support tenants to
have better insulated
homesʼ BS2
8. Citywide leadership
A link between disillusionment with bigger actors and
the undermining of individual motivation emerged as we
looked for references to citywide leadership on climate
change action. It became clear that the Council plays
an important role, referred to in multiple ways in our
responses from ‘Council’ and ‘local government’ to
‘the mayor’, ‘the city’ or simply as ‘they’.
Residents seem to feel that the Council is not meeting
the climate change-related commitments it has made,
citing the fact that declaring a climate emergency or
becoming European Green Capital had not resulted
in substantial changes. In many cases, residents gave
examples of their perception of the city leadership
contradicting its green goals through unsustainable
policies, such as the Mayor’s support for the airport
expansion. A good example of how Council messaging
and actions are viewed with confusion was the alleged
purchase of new diesel vehicles for council use
immediately after announcing an imminent diesel ban –
a story told a few times to our researchers.
There was comment on the Council’s management
of transport, trac, unsustainable investments, lack
of action and change, high levels of construction,
a lack of communication and poor leadership. Many
responses suggested that the Council is slow and
ineective, closed-o and not transparent enough, and
making investments to boost its own financial gain and
personal incentives in the interests of others rather than
Bristol residents:
-‘If there's money to be made, climate change
doesn't matter’
-The Mayor gets 4 years and promises are never
realised before the next one arrives’
-‘Lots of talk but not enough action or leading
by the front from the Council’
While some had more faith, speaking of how they are
‘confident in the current leadership – MPs, Mayor,
councillors’ and how they see this Bristol administration
as a ‘green council, working to deal with the issues
facing them’, others wondered whether the Council is
‘frightened to tell people how habits and lifestyles must
change’. The high level of feeling about inconsistent
and mixed messaging from the Council is illustrated by
the comments below:
-‘Bristol has a good attitude. Very positive. Can
seem really progressive but at the end of the day
it is still not sustainable. On the surface lots seem
to be happening but we remain a city with much
trac etc.
-‘Hypocrisy. The liberal green image is bullshit. We
are the European Green Capital but our Mayor
still comes out in support of the Bristol Airport
Expansion. The public transport is really bad and
expensive.
Residents’ frustration with the lack of action was
expressed through frequent references to distrust,
uncertainty and anger when current policies were
mentioned. At the heart of these critiques is a desire
for more - much more - concrete policy action at both
local and national levels. People want to see the Council
‘trying things and taking risks and not to be afraid
of making dicult and unpopular decisions’.
What they do not want is the Council ‘giving in to
consumerist and business pressure and backing
away from real change’.
‘I’d like to see the Council
actually implement change -
it’s all just talk at the moment’
17 WHAT RESIDENTS THINK
ONE CITY CLIMATE STRATEGY
18
In November 2018 Bristol City Council passed a motion
to declare a climate emergency, with a commitment
that the Mayor report back with a plan within 6 months.
In July 2019, this was followed by the Mayor’s Climate
Emergency Plan, setting out the urgent challenges
faced by the council and the city in relation to the
climate emergency and its impacts on the city. In
February 2020, Bristol’s One City Climate Strategy
was published, setting out a city-wide approach to
climate change under key delivery themes. This was
commissioned by the One City Environment Board and
formally endorsed by the Mayor on behalf of Bristol City
Council on March 3rd, 2020.
The One City governance structure in Bristol
recognises that while Bristol City Council has a
significant responsibility and leadership role in
acting on climate change, it cannot directly deliver
everything that is needed. Businesses, communities,
the wider public sector and individuals all have a part
to play. The One City Environment Board is made up
of representatives from across all sectors. Bristol City
Council is in the process of writing their delivery plan
for the actions within their remit.
As the One City Climate Strategy is the most up-
to-date and strategic document shaping Bristol’s
response to the climate emergency, this is the
policy document we have referred to in relation to
communicating Bristol’s action on climate change.
As can be seen in the diagram below, the One City
Climate Strategy consists of 10 key delivery themes
and areas of focus across all aspects of Bristol
development into the future. It is informing current
council action as well as detailed actions and policies
to be taken over the next few years. In the following
table, we draw together the various climate-related
objectives for each of the climate strategy areas, and
then link these to residents’ comments to see how
well these policy objectives, and their implications,
are currently understood by those living and working
in the city.
The One City Climate Strategy:
current climate change mitigation policy
1. Transport
6. Business &
the economy
7. Public
services
8. Natural
environment
9. Food
10. Infrastructure
interdependencies
5. Consumption
& waste
4. Electricity
3. Heat
decarbonisation
2. Buildings
10 Key
delivery themes
in relation
to the climate
emergency
This diagram is adapted from
The One City Climate Change strategy, p5
https://www.bristolonecity.com/wp-content/
uploads/2020/02/one-city-climate-strategy.pdf
ONE CITY CLIMATE STRATEGY
19
2030 policy objectives
in the One City Climate
Strategy
Objective 1 Objective 2 Objective 3 Objective 4 & 5
1. Transport Reduction in car
and freight mileage
around 40% with
a move to public
transport, walking
and cycling and
coordination
of deliveries.
All Bristol's cars to
be ultra low emission
vehicles (less than
75g Co2/mile by
2020; minimum of
10 miles on electric
only) and 90% of
other vehicles will be
ultra low emissions
vehicles (ULEV).
Reduce total carbon
emissions from
international and
domestic air travel
associated with
residents.
Sustainable travel
infrastructure:
improvements to
accessibility and
service provision.
Objective 5
Existing transport
infrastructure and
network reinforced
to withstand extreme
weather events.
2. Buildings New buildings all
carbon neutral and
climate resilient
(aligning heat
provision to the city’s
heat decarbonisation
programme).
Energy performance
in existing buildings
improved to minimise
heat demand and
prevent overheating.
Collaboration of
stakeholders (and
especially building
owners / managers
/ users) to adapt
current stock for
future climate
hazards.
3. Heat
decarbonisation
Support phasing
out of gas heating,
installing around
95,000 individual
electric heat pumps
in well insulated
buildings.
Around 65,000
buildings connected
to heat networks to
support the phasing
out of gas heating
in Bristol.
4. Electricity Extensive adoption
of smart electricity
solutions to support
the decarbonisation
of the national grid.
Maximisation
of renewable
generation within
the city, including
approximately
350MW solar
electricity.
Local electricity
network made
more resilient to
accommodate
increased demand
as more electricity
is used for heat
and transport.
5. Consumption
and waste
Shift in Bristol’s retail
economy to focus on
high quality, durable
products that can be
easily repaired.
Principles of
responsible
consumption adopted
by all, including using
and buying less and
buying carbon neutral
goods and services.
Significant levels
of waste reduction
(particularly for food,
textiles and plastic).
At least 65% of all
‘waste’ is repaired,
recycled or re-used.
As the One City climate strategy sets out, to
achieve its aims by 2030 we need actions at
every level of each of the 10 identified areas of
change. Below, we draw together the various
objectives for each of these areas, in some cases
changing the language to make the implications
more understandable.
ONE CITY CLIMATE STRATEGY
20
Objective 1 Objective 2 Objective 3 Objective 4
6. Business
and economy
Carbon neutral
businesses and
organisations, with
annual recording
and measurement
of scope 1, 2 & 3
Greenhouse Gas
(GHG) emissions of
direct and supply
chains, as per the
GHG Protocol.
Businesses (especially
those with large GHG
footprints) to receive
training, engagement,
management and
operation support
to reduce their
emissions.
The development
of a collaborative
business strategy to
avoid climate hazards,
with assistance
prioritised to the
most vulnerable.
Bristol continues to
attract businesses
working in the 'green
revolution' bringing
varied jobs to the city.
7. Public services,
including
voluntary,
community and
social enterprise
(VCSE)
All Bristol public
/ VCSE service
organisations to be
carbon neutral, with
annual recording/
measurement of
scope 1, 2 & 3 GHG
emissions of direct
and supply chains,
as GHG Protocol.
All organisations
(especially those
with large GHG
footprints) to receive
training, engagement,
management and
operation support
to reduce their
emissions.
Development of a
collaborative public
and VCSE strategy to
avoid climate hazards,
with assistance
prioritised to the
most vulnerable.
Public and VCSE
sector to build on its
leadership position,
sharing lessons
from its earlier
transition with other
organisations in
the city.
8. Natural
environment
All new construction
projects to use
appropriate blue
(water ways) and
green (parks)
infrastructure to
protect from future
climate events; to
provide ecological
improvements; and
to enhance carbon
sequestration
(absorption) of all
developments.
The city’s natural
environment
(including canopy
cover and
biodiversity) has been
restored, preserved
and enhanced to
maximise carbon
sequestration in
carbon sinks, climate
resilience and health
and wellbeing.
Everyone lives
and works within
a 10 minute walk
of a quality green
space with sucient
tree canopy cover
to provide refuge
for citizens during
climate-change
induced extreme
heat conditions.
Wildlife friendly
businesses and
organisations -
habitats, bird boxes,
green infrastructure,
etc - in an eort
to recover wildlife
lost as a result of
climate change
or urbanisation.
9. Food Sustainable and low
carbon food options
available to everyone
in all future climates,
respectful of all
dietary and cultural
requirements.
Specific carbon
neutral, climate
resilient food supply
and distribution
solutions will be
implemented in the
Bristol city region.
Maximisation of
sustainable and
resilient urban food
production, used
as a mechanism for
active community
participation and
education in food
sustainability.
Citizens to have a
more plant-based
diet, minimise food
waste and support
increase in the market
for sustainable and
carbon neutral food.
10. Infrastructure
interdependence
Provision of vital
services, such as
water and sewerage,
maintained in all but
the most extreme
circumstances.
Infrastructure
providers understand
how dierent aspects
of infrastructure aect
each other (e.g. how
transport systems
are aected by the
electricity network
going down)
and manage the
relevant risks.
Collaborate to
improve the resilience
of infrastructure
systems from extreme
weather events.
Infrastructure
stakeholders work
together to develop
cross sector, whole
system carbon
neutral solutions.
ONE CITY CLIMATE STRATEGY
21
1. Transport
The Transport Objectives 1-5 set out in the One City
Climate Strategy are far reaching and would see a
massive shift in the quality and type of public transport
options across the city. Both bold and radical, they will
fundamentally shift transport and road use in Bristol
away from the presumed right of the car. The many and
critical views expressed by residents about Bristol’s
current transport system show a strong public mandate
for these changes, alongside important caveats:
New transport plans should take into account the
whole city and not isolate the ‘forgotten’ periphery
by focussing just on the centre. Residents of
South Bristol in particular feel cut o. Policies that
aect only the centre (such as the Clean Air Zone)
raise concerns about impacts in neighbourhoods
immediately adjoining the centre.
The experience of lockdown has given residents
a taste of what it would be like to have reduced
car trac in the city, in terms of air quality and
noise pollution benefits. This can be a source of
motivation for change.
Residents recognise the caution about public
transport in the context of Covid-19, but most
online survey respondents expressed a desire for
public transport to be a major part of medium term
transport plans of Bristol.
Clear communication of the citywide transport
plans for transformation, including details of
phasing and longterm coordination, is essential.
For example, Bristolians in one part of the city need
to know why their local bus service is not going to
be improved until 2028 while others will benefit
from an upgraded service from 2024.
Changes should be equitable, with costs distributed
fairly and proportionately to those most able to
shoulder them. This is particularly relevant to the
aspiration to renew the city’s car fleet with ultra
low-emission vehicles (ULEV) such as electric cars
(Transport Objective 2).
Demonstrating the achievability of policies is
important to get residents’ buy-in. For example, the
aspiration that all vehicles will be ULEV by 2030
needs more detail to win their trust on how the
city’s car fleet will be transformed in an inclusive
manner within this timeframe.
Transforming Bristol’s transport system would be well-
suited to being addressed by a citizens’ assembly
or similar democratic process. It is the main climate
strategy area where residents want to see change,
where there is widespread dissatisfaction, and where a
coordinated and long term response is required. While
critical voices are vehement, residents demonstrated
more nuanced views than can be expressed in
response to piecemeal policies, and frequently
expressed criticism of lack of joined-up planning.
Current strategy
in light of residents’ views
CURRENT STRATEGY IN LIGHT OF RESIDENTS' VIEWS
22
2 & 3. Buildings; Heat decarbonisation
These delivery themes were not mentioned much
by residents - just two people in the on-street survey
used the word ‘insulation’ and none spoke of ‘retrofit’
- and yet they involve a huge amount of building and
infrastructure work to meet the 2030 policy objectives.
This includes increasing the energy eciency of
buildings and moving away from gas to renewable
electricity for heating.
What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
This is a representative group of citizens
selected at random to learn about a particular
issue or set of issues. They then deliberate on
the topic through listening to dierent points of
view, discussion and reflection before making
recommendations. In January 2020, Bristol City
Council passed a motion to Reboot Democracy
in the city, with proposals for deliberative
democracy that include citizens assemblies.
Given resident views that the centre of Bristol is
experiencing a more positive transformation than
peripheral areas, it is important that early actions
are taken across the whole of greater Bristol,
again with clear signage about their purpose.
It is important that routes to financial support for
low income households to improve their homes
are communicated clearly and early. Support and
equal access to the benefits of city changes were
important to residents in this research.
Many of these changes will be highly visible and
disruptive on the ground in Bristol (such as mass
insulation and installation of district heating).
Posters and signage at sites where this work
is taking place would ensure that passers-by
recognise the significance of ground works as
part of Bristol’s response to climate change.
This all points to a need for better communication
of the role of building energy eciency and heating
system changes in the overall strategy, and also to
the language used to describe these objectives.
Although the majority of residents’ concerns about
the built environment were focused on the loss of
green space as a result of new building work, there
is an opportunity here to use the potential visibility of
buildings and heat decarbonisation to demonstrate
how concrete actions are being taken. This in turn
might address concerns that Bristol’s response to
climate change is lip service.
4. Electricity
The One City Climate Strategy calls for maximising
renewable energy generation, including installing
smart technologies (Objective 1), the use of 350MW
solar and grid reinforcement (Objective 2).
Only 13% of our on-the-street interviewees
mentioned energy at all and less than 8% talked
about solar or wind renewable energy. Most of
those talked about solar energy.
No residents we spoke to on the street
mentioned smart meters.
Decarbonisation of electricity does not seem to be
at the forefront of Bristol residents’ thinking about
local action on climate change. This may be because
electricity is experienced as ‘behind-the-scenes’
infrastructure, seen as a national issue or one that
is far away from people’s everyday lives. This is in
striking contrast to the high volume of views we
heard about transport, which people interact with
every day and feel frustrated by.
5. Consumption and waste
Consumption and waste Objective 1 implies a
complete transition to high quality, durable products
that can be easily repaired by 2030. This goes much
further than the focus on plastic that formed the major
part of resident responses in relation to consumption
and waste. In practice, this objective would result in
an increase in the price of everyday products, which
may in turn lead to a greater reliance on leasing/hire-
purchase arrangements. This implies extra costs (such
as interest payments) for anyone who can’t aord to
buy a product outright, and conflicts with residents’
demands not to put the burden of change onto those
less able to pay.
To address this, aordable and low interest finance
would be important. This would match the express
desire of residents for inclusive, equitable policies that
do not put pressure on those less able to pay. There
might be a potential role here for organisations such
as the Bristol Credit Union and other micro-financing
structures to take a lead.
CURRENT STRATEGY IN LIGHT OF RESIDENTS' VIEWS
23
6 & 7. Business and the economy;
Public services
The One City Climate Strategy identifies profound
changes that all organisations in the city will have
to make, from large businesses to small charities.
From our research, it seems residents feel strongly
that businesses should pull their weight, alongside
a leading role from Bristol City Council. Regular
monitoring and reporting on the progress of dierent
sectors would ensure that residents are aware of how
this is happening, supported by:
Clear sector-specific action plans
Clarity on funding to support the development
of action plans and the training, education and
management programmes needed
The appropriate sources of funding to support this
change and education in VCSE, public and business
sectors could also be the topic of a deliberative
process to generate an approach best suited to
business buy-in.
8. Natural environment
Residents who responded to the surveys reported a
strong desire to augment green spaces in the city and
to protect those that currently exist from new building
developments. This underlines the importance of
Objective 3 - to achieve a maximum of 10 minute
walk for residents and workers in Bristol to a ‘quality
open green space’ - which become noticeably more
important to residents in the online survey responses
collected during lockdown.
9. Food
Although food was not front-of-mind for most people
we spoke to, it seems from the comments we did
receive that Bristolians are in tune with Climate
Strategy objectives. About 15% of residents made
a connection between climate change and food,
mentioning the growth of local food, reduced meat
consumption and minimising plastic packaging of
food. Comments about vegetarianism and veganism
were mixed, with some supportive and some
resistant to diet change.
10. Infrastructure interdependence
The One City Climate Strategy Objectives around
infrastructure interdependence are primarily focused
on resilience to future climate change and managing
infrastructure in an integrated way. Less than 4% of
Bristol residents in the on-street survey mentioned
‘infrastructure’. When they did it was in the context
of transport, flood defences and new construction
projects. There was a low level of engagement with
the idea of infrastructure interdependence.
CURRENT STRATEGY IN LIGHT OF RESIDENTS' VIEWS
24
As far as we are aware, this piece of research is a unique
attempt at accessing the thoughts of Bristolians about
climate change across all groups and all areas of the city,
and especially those whose views would not necessarily
be heard. We think it also sheds light on which of
the current actions are understood and have broad
acceptance among residents and which do not.
To date, the research has produced the following
insights:
Bristol residents are concerned about climate
change and this fear both motivates willingness
to change and holds people back from action.
They are willing to see radical change in the city,
and are frustrated with the lack of visible steps that
have been taken so far.
Transport is the biggest area of concern talked
about both before and during the Covid-19
lockdown.
Equality and fairness is important to Bristol residents,
including an expectation that all sectors should
pull their weight and that the cost of adaptation to
climate change should not be carried by, or lead to
the exclusion of, those least able to pay.
Residents expect a high level of integrity from
Bristol City Council, and goodwill towards the
council is undermined when policies are perceived
as contradictory.
Recommendations
We hope that this piece of work will contribute to
the ongoing development of the One City Climate
Strategy, and especially to how the changes involved
are communicated to residents to keep them informed
and motivated to make necessary adjustments to their
lifestyles. In brief, we suggest:
Boldness Residents are willing to accept radical
change as long as this comes with integrity, as in visible
follow-through of ideas that are proposed.In particular,
this relates to changes that improve the public transport
system and infrastructure in the city.
Consistency Consistent and well-communicated policy
from city leadership in relation to climate change we
believe would generate goodwill among residents. This
may also increase buy-in to making personal lifestyle
shifts. Clear and frequent communications similar to the
Covid-19 update email update from the Mayor would
help to avoid confusion and mistrust, and challenge
perceptions of hypocrisy and lack of follow-through.
Costs The financial implications of making the changes
set out in the One City Climate Strategy need to be
clear and discussed upfront. For example, transport
Objective 2 needs details about subsidies and
alternative types of ULEV ownership and use options to
be included in plans as a matter of urgency to reassure
Implications and recommendations
IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
25
those on lower incomes. Costs and benefits to dierent
socio-economic groups should be detailed alongside
each objective.
Detail People are thinking globally, not locally. There
is a need to shift the discussion around climate change
to a local concern, focussing on what it will mean for
local communities. Objectives in the Climate Strategy
need to be translated into detailed local action plans
as a priority, separating out what are national / regional
responsibilities and what can be achieved at the
citywide and neighbourhood level.
Equality Residents from across all areas of the city
are adamant that changes and newly introduced
strategies must be inclusive and not make existing
inequalities worse. This refers to income levels as well
as geographic disadvantage. As new policies and their
objectives are introduced, how the new ideas aect
dierent parts of the Bristol population needs to be
clearly set out, with implications for individual and
local impact.
Honesty There is a general sense of fear and
foreboding in the city which needs to be acknowledged
to support Bristol’s population and to keep their
motivation to act in place. Being honest about the scale
of the problem, clarity about what can be achieved and
how, and transparency about costs and implications will
lessen anxiety and confusion across the city.
Imagination As this issue is so crucial and motivating
for younger generations, harnessing their imaginations
and energy is vital for lasting change. One example:
start an ongoing citywide video project, with young
people asking friends, families and networks about
about the things they do for the environment and why.
One-minute video clips of all ages and backgrounds
could be used to build momentum among residents
and also address the growing gap between younger
and older generations over this issue.
Inclusion The One City approach is positive as it
uses council leadership to include sectors beyond
the council. It could be extended to include greater
citizen participation. A new leadership approach which
introduces and promotes youth and citizen participation
would contribute greater understanding and buy-
in, as well as dierent perspectives, to the ongoing
development, implementation and communication of
the One City Climate Strategy objectives.
Leadership As the One City plan points out, this is
an issue that aects us all, with all of us - individuals,
organisations, businesses, Bristol City Council - needing
to play their parts. By stepping up to the role of ‘talking
shop’, the anxieties about council commitment to
climate change strategy and action could be reduced.
It could take the lead in providing space to consider
plans and thinking through the running of such services
before commissioning, alongside representatives of all
the dierent sectors and groups included in the plan.
Transparency As the research shows, Bristol City
Council is generally trusted by residents in the city
when it comes to information and guidance about
climate change issues. There are radical proposals
included in the One City Climate Strategy that
ought to be communicated widely to demonstrate
that the council is acting decisively and boldly. A
communications campaign on concrete actions is
needed to improve the public’s understanding of
policies.
Visibility People don’t really understand climate
change impacts at a local level, or the strategic plans
in place to work on those. The One City Environment
board could instigate a highly visible and ongoing
public campaign to highlight the reasons for small
actions already being taken. This could be on
billboards, buses and bus shelters, for example, and at
points of disruption where infrastructure improvements
are taking place, alongside clearer online provision of
information through the council website.
IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
26
CYCLES LESS PLASTIC
GOOD
PUBLIC
TRANSPORT GARDENS
BAN
FOSSIL
FUELS
PEDESTRIAN
ZONES
LESS TRAFFIC
LOCAL
FOOD
WANT
CLEAN
AIR
LESS CARS
RENEWABLE ENERGY
WALKING
GREEN SPACE
HOUSING
What Bristol residents
want on climate change:
Design: patwa.co.uk
Cover photo: Martyna Bober on Unsplash
Icons from Noun Project by: Gregor Cresnar,
Michael Thompson, DinosoftLab, P Thanga Vignesh,
Kyle Levi Fox, Hakan Yalcin, Alice Design, il Capitano,
Ayu Nurlestari, Monika
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.