Bristol is getting on with doing good
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy writes for the Fishponds Voice
ON September 20, school pupils and students across Bristol came out on strike to protest against Government inaction on the climate emergency. I started the day at Begbrook Primary School, meeting some young pupils who had dubbed themselves “the Green Team”. This was very much their own initiative. They stood outside the school gates, with signs calling for an end to plastic pollution, protection for endangered animals, and a reduction in traffic, and I helped carry a very large placard as we marched, which said: “Sorry, I can’t tidy my room, I’m saving the planet!”
I promised the pupils that I would take their message to the Prime Minister, and stress to him the urgency of saving the planet.
The children went into school in time for lessons, and I set off for UWE to see students at freshers’ week. It’s good to see that they have their own Green Team, and a Green Week scheduled for October 7 to 13, which includes Meat Free Monday, work on a community garden and a “Fix It Friday”. They also have elections coming up soon for places on the university’s sustainability committee.
After that, it was time to head into town for the main school climate strike event on College Green. There was an absolutely fantastic turnout, not just from young people, but from people of all ages and backgrounds. Bristol is known for its green credentials and in November Bristol City Council became the first city to pass a motion acknowledging that we face a climate emergency. Since then Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, has presented his action plan to the council on making Bristol a carbon-neutral city by 2030. It includes proposals on creating thousands of new green jobs, energy efficiency, transport, renewable energy and consumption. This includes the council fitting solar panels on council housing, investing in renewables and low carbon heating schemes, and introducing a clean vehicle fleet and electric buses.
Marvin is also consulting on proposals for a clean air zone, and there are ongoing discussions on making Bristol a pesticide-free city. I am particularly pleased that there is a commitment from the council to protect food growing land in local planning policy, which is something Feeding Bristol – the organisation I helped set up, with the aim of eradicating food poverty in the city – is very keen to support. I am also hoping to arrange a big consultation event on the Government’s draft food policy in Bristol this autumn. We have some great work going on in the Fishponds area – from food growing on the Feed Bristol site to the ‘guerilla gardening’ of Edible Bristol – and I hope local groups will get involved. Things may be chaotic, frustrating, and at times depressing in terms of national politics right now but it’s really heartening to know that, back in Bristol, we are getting on with doing good!