Bristol has been awarded the title of European Green Capital 2015, by EU Environment Commissioner at an Award Ceremony hosted by the current European Green Capital, Nantes, on Friday evening.
The award was presented by Janez Potočnik in recognition of the city's investment plans in the areas of transport and energy. Its communication and social media strategy were also highlighted as a call to action for its citizens.
Commissioner Potočnik said: "Congratulations to Bristol for the example they are setting. We have much to learn from these efforts to improve the environment and quality of life for citizens, whilst creating new business opportunities, and I look forward to their year as European Green Capital. They will have numerous occasions to showcase their expertise and their creative approach to engaging with citizens and to developing a green economy."
Encouraging local authorities and citizens to make cities better places to live
The European Green Capital Award is an annual event to encourage cities to improve the quality of life by systematically taking the environment into account in urban planning and management. The Commission’s proposed 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) underpins the initiative as a way of encouraging local authorities and citizens to make cities better places to live.
Budget of €500 million for transport improvements by 2015
The Jury considered Bristol’s sustainable community projects to be good examples of citizen engagement to tackle environmental, economic and social issues. The city has committed a budget of €500 million for transport improvements by 2015 and up to €300 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2020. Bristol's transport and urban policies have contributed to achieving better air quality. Thanks to its efforts the number of cyclists has doubled in recent years, and the city is committed to doubling this number again by 2020 (based on 2010 baseline figures).
The EU Commision also highlighted Bristol's communication actions, especially through social media to involve citizens in improving the quality of life in the city.
Bristol a ‘Laboratory for Change’
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson welcomed the decision, "This demonstrates Bristol’s ambition to be a pioneering green city and is recognition for the many years of hard work and dedication by the city council, businesses and the people of Bristol to make our city more environmentally friendly."
"We will now be turning our attention to staging an inspiring programme of events in 2015 which will be centred around the idea of Bristol as a ‘Laboratory for Change’. I have offered Bristol as a test-bed for environmental ideas in 2015, where we will develop pioneering practices which will not only benefit Bristol, but will hopefully become a model for cities around the world.
Future Smart City
According to Lorraine Hudson of Connecting Bristol (Bristol City Council), Bristol launched a public, private and people partnership called the Smart City Programme in 2011. The aim is to use smart technologies to meet its target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from a 2005 baseline, as well as its social and economic objectives.
Bristol is also developing a smart grid structure and web-based applications to support the use of electric vehicles. It is also part of the Core Cities group. UWE is also engaged in projects.