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How Bristol, Europe’s 2015 Green Capital, plans to become even greener


After Stockholm, Hamburg, Nantes, and Copenhagen in previous years, Bristol has been selected by the European Commission as the Green Capital of Europe in 2015. England’s sixth largest city (with a population of 430,000) has been rewarded for its sustainable development policy with this prize, which is awarded based on twelve criteria (air quality, transportation, energy, waste, water, biodiversity, etc.). Bristol is now aiming to become a model sustainable city.

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With energy efficiency in housing constantly increasing, a sharp reduction in the carbon footprint and amount of waste per capita, urban renewal, the development of green business, alternative transportation solutions, renewable energy, etc., Bristol definitely deserves to be named the Green Capital. For Mayor George Ferguson, this award is also and above all a launch pad for going further. This explains the implementation throughout 2015 of a wide range of projects, events, and initiatives supplementing the long-term plans already undertaken, with goals such as a 25% reduction in energy consumption by 2020. Bristol’s plans – which include the commissioning of a bus running on biogas generated from human excrement, the creation of an aquaponic urban fish farm (growing plants in symbiosis with raising fish), a solar “farm” supplying energy to 430 households, and a tidal power station on the estuary of the Avon River – are ample evidence of its determination to innovate.

But above all, the city also wants to rely on the support of local stakeholders (residents, businesses, associations, universities, etc.), thanks to a network of more than 700 partners. Their ideas form the basis of Bristol’s plan for 2015. In December 2014, 32 of those partners shared funding amounting to more than 1.3 million pounds. The schedule of events that punctuate the year is becoming every fuller, with shows, festivals, and workshops to increase environmental awareness, created by neighbourhoods or associations. The primary aim of Bristol 2015 is to be a collaborative and interactive project. George Ferguson believes his role is to encourage individual initiative: “We must give citizens the power to change things if we are to find the answers to the challenges we face.”