Understanding how Bristol can be carbon neutral by 2030

New evidence base from CSE-led study for Bristol City Council published

26 February 2020

Bristol City Council has published a new study led by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) exploring key aspects of how the city could achieve its declared ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030, twenty years ahead of the legally binding national target of 2050.

The detailed study focused on cutting to near zero by 2030 the carbon emissions associated with the city’s use of fossil fuels (like gas, petrol and diesel), the electricity it consumes and the waste it produces. CSE partnered with Ricardo (on transport) and Eunomia (on waste) to undertake the analysis.

To download a copy of the report click here.

Separate studies were commissioned to explore the carbon emissions associated with consumption – from food to flying – by Bristol’s residents and businesses and the city’s resilience to climate change. Together they form the evidence base for a new Bristol One City Climate Strategy that has also been published.

Simon Roberts OBE, CSE’s Chief Executive, led the study: “Bristol City Council asked the right questions for this research: What changes will be needed in the city for Bristol to meet its declared ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030? What are the conditions for success which will need to be in place for these changes to prove possible? What are the key interventions and initiatives which will be needed to create these conditions?

"The detailed analysis we undertook reveals that there is a route to achieving net zero by 2030 for the city. And it also describes the nature, scale and speed of the huge transformation that will be required, covering how the city heats its buildings and uses energy, how people and goods get about, and how we reduce and treat our waste.”

The fundamental changes identified by the analysis include:

  • The phasing out of the use of gas for heating (replaced by combination of individual electric heat pumps and heat networks serving much better insulated buildings)
  • The decarbonisation of electricity nationally, supported by far smarter use in the city (plus growth in roof-top PV)
  • No more petrol or diesel vehicles in the city (with a major modal shift to public transport and active travel to cut vehicle miles and switch to electric vehicles for the remaining vehicles)
  • No net carbon emissions from all new build developments
  • A significant reduction in waste, greater re-use and recycling, & the removal of plastics from residual waste.

Each of these areas was explored in depth in the study to understand both the nature of technical changes involved and the conditions required for success, including political and regulatory aspects, commercial and funding needs, capacity and skills, and socio-cultural conditions. It also describes the potential benefits of action, including significant employment and business development opportunities, cleaner air and the potential to tackle fuel poverty.

Drawing on this detailed analysis, the study report outlines ten key interventions which are needed to establish the conditions in the city in which achieving net zero by 2030 becomes possible.

A city for net zero: fostering shared purpose and enabling active participation

  1. Sustained and extensive public and business engagement programmes to create shared purpose and secure participation from the whole city in ‘net zero’ initiatives.

A city empowered to achieve net zero: securing powers & capacity

  1. The securing of new powers (to organise and require action and raise levies) and devolved (additional) funding, with national backing for ‘2030’ pioneers to accelerate investment.
  2. An extensive skills and capacity development programme to enable delivery at scale and capture the jobs created for city.
  3. Effective powers to set and enforce local planning policies and building standards to ensure all new build developments achieve meaningful net zero carbon standards and are aligned with the city’s approach to decarbonisation.

A city with net zero infrastructure: installing the technology we need

  1. Orchestrated city-wide programmes for insulation & heat pump retrofit and for district heating installation, on district-by-district basis (as ‘net zero heat zones’).
  2. An electricity distribution network upgrade programme (including smarter operation) to accelerate the achievement of a ‘network for net zero’.
  3. Major investment in transport modal shift (public transport and active travel infrastructure) to secure rapid reduction in vehicle miles, reclaiming road space from private vehicles, encouraging freight consolidation, and discouraging car journeys into and around the city.
  4. A controlled approach to EV charging infrastructure roll-out with a sustained push for EV car clubs and mobility as a service.

A city enabled for net zero: sector-specific initiatives to enable change

  1. A significant drive to reduce, re-use and recycle, with particular focus on food waste, plastic use and recovering plastic from residual waste.
  2. A programme to involve businesses and households in smart energy initiatives, sign up for genuine 100% renewable tariffs, and install PV.

Click here to download a copy of Bristol net zero by 2030: The evidence base from CSE with Ricardo and Eunomia.

To read a technical explanation of the methodology we applied to the analysis for decarbonising heat in Bristol, please click here.

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