THE BLOG

An Update From COP 21, Tuesday 1st December

02/12/2015 12:09 GMT | Updated 02/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Since arriving on Monday it has been exciting and informative to meet with delegates from across the world who are promoting the importance of this generation combating climate change. Yesterday marked the opening of the Cities and Regions Pavilion at COP 21. This pavilion is here to showcase the rich variety of organisations and other cities that share a common goal with me and Bristol -tackling climate change at a local level.

We have the great honour of co-hosting a pavilion with the city of Paris and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which is the global local government sustainability network.

When you enter the pavilion you're greeted with a giant sustainable adult playground of plywood, a home-made feel which, to me, drives home importance of creatively addressing climate change! You will also find individually named reusable water bottles that are provided to exhibitors that can be used at water fountains. I was proud to say that Bristol is actively promoting the reuse of water bottles!

Bristol was fortunate enough to host the very first presentation at the pavilion where we showcased some of the fantastic work that we had achieved during our year as European Green Capital. I also discussed the importance of this not just being a one year project but a longer lasting legacy that kick starts our cities' movement towards becoming a more resilient and sustainable city in the future - something that we are achieving and I am immensely proud of. The first event resulted in a swarm of visitors to the Bristol stand creating valuable opportunity to engage with delegates from around the world.

This pavilion will be open for the entirety of COP 21, so if you're around do pop in as there is plenty to see and hear about! The main purpose of this pavilion, that we co-host with Paris, is to stage the 100 city Transformative Action Plans (TAPs) including two innovative schemes selected by Bristol. First is a £1bn proposal to retrofit about a third of our 150,000 homes to make them more energy efficient. Second is the 'Bristol Brain' a project to create a physical and digital city model on top of which real-time data and sophisticated analytics can be projected and visualised, allowing us to explore different options for managing various elements of city life like transport, energy and air quality. I think these two schemes demonstrate the innovative nature of Bristol and as we advance from budding Brunels to the next Elon Musk!

Tuesday came to a close with a panel of Mayors and representatives from the past, present and future European Green Capitals, chaired by the extremely energetic new European Director General for the Environment, Daniel Calleja. It was a lively discussion about the real challenges cities face and the tangible actions we can take to reduce emissions to improve local lives. It demonstrated to me that not only are these cities, including Bristol, leading the fight against global climate change they are creating happier and healthier and more prosperous cities in the process, which in turn will create fairer cities.

But amidst all the Mayors, delegations and non-stop presentations there's been one element of the opening day which has struck me the most. During our official opening of the pavilion we were joined on-stage by four youth ambassadors from our fellow European Green Capital of Copenhagen. In a heartfelt presentation they asked what world we would leave them; how we would help them create a more sustainable future and whether we, as city leaders, are willing to commit to lowering carbon emissions. They asked global leaders what was the price of their future? Any financial cost, they argued, pales in to insignificance against the cost to the earth due to inaction.

The image of a young boy from Copenhagen deflating his inflatable globe, graphically displaying the ultimate cost of not taking sufficient action in our cities and states, is one which further strengthens my resolve to do all in my power to defend their future. There is no limit to my ambition to make Bristol a world leader in addressing climate change.