Bristol, leading the way for sustainable and resilient cities
21 April 2015
Bristol is at the forefront of a global movement of cities that are reinventing what it means to be sustainable and resilient in the age of climate change.
Located in South West England, Bristol city, a historic medium sized city surrounded by a scenic countryside, was recently awarded the title of European Green Capital 2015. The award recognises the city’s many initiatives over the years to protect the environment and improve people’s quality of life. The EIB, through the ELENA grant programme, is proud to have played a part in this process by supporting the city’s ambitious energy programme.
Bristol, European Green Capital 2015
Bristol’s title of Green Capital is well deserved. It is the UK’s greenest city. Almost a fifth of Bristol residents walk to work. The number of cyclists has doubled in recent years. Bristol has also been working to reduce the city’s contribution to climate change. Carbon emissions have consistently declined in Bristol since 2005 despite a growing economy. Great strides have also been made in increasing the share of renewable energy in the city’s energy mix, improving water and waste treatment, increasing energy efficiency across all sectors and developing the green economy.
George Ferguson, the Mayor of Bristol, explains how the city achieved these impressive results: “Bristol has in reality been working towards the title of European Green Capital for generations. Our success is rooted in 40 years of pioneering work in sustainability. Much of this has been at grassroots level, demonstrating real change and community spirit in areas such as energy, waste, food and transport. We have over the last few years grown a Green Capital Partnership of 750 organisations, large and small.”
Nevertheless, the city does not plan to rest on its laurels and has committed a budget of EUR 500 million for transport improvements by 2015 and up to EUR 300 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2020. As a signatory to the Covenant of Mayors in 2009, the city has set ambitious targets to reduce energy use by 30 % and CO2 emissions by 40 % by 2020 and 80 % by 2050 (from 2005 baseline).
The European Local Energy Assistance facility and its support to Bristol
In 2012, the city of Bristol received a EUR 2.6 million grant from the ELENA programme in support of a EUR 161 million sustainable energy investment programme (to be implemented by 2016). The programme covers investments to increase the energy efficiency of residential and public buildings, to install photovoltaic panels on public and private rooftops and to renovate or install district heating systems using combined heat and power or renewable sources.
“Bristol is fast becoming the UK’s most energy efficient major city and this is in no small part thanks to the support of the European Investment Bank under the European Local Energy Assistance Programme (ELENA) to develop a series of strategic and sustainable local energy initiatives to improve life in Bristol. This includes setting up our new wholly owned ethically driven energy company, Bristol Energy.” says Mr. Ferguson.
The ELENA facility is a joint initiative by the EIB and the European Commission. It helps local and regional authorities and other public bodies prepare energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and increase their chances of attracting financing. Public authorities that receive grants from ELENA must in turn commit to invest at least 25 times the grant amount in investments aiming to reduce CO2 emissions. Investment programmes can involve the improvement of energy efficiency, the integration of renewable energy sources in buildings, the renovation or installation of district heating systems and urban transport programmes. Since its inception in 2009, ELENA has supported 36 projects in 14 different EU countries with total grant contribution of some EUR 65 million. ELENA expects to leverage investments of up to EUR 3.5 billion.
Ahead of the United Kingdom’s departure as a member of the European Investment Bank, as part of its withdrawal from the European Union, EIB President Werner Hoyer expressed his regret about Brexit, but welcomed the firm support of the EU 27 and the constructive engagement of the UK during withdrawal negotiations.