Bristol, England, aims for carbon neutrality by 2030

bike lanes on college green photo
CC BY-SA 2.0 Sam Saunders

"It's an emergency," say council members. "So let's act like it."

From dumpster diving cafes to mainstream strawbale houses, we've featured my home city of Bristol on TreeHugger many times before. It has certainly pioneered a name for itself as a center for all things green. (Heck, as I write this I notice it even has its own tag in our Content Management System!)

Now the city is setting its sights higher, with Bristol 24/7 reporting that the city council has declared a climate emergency and promised to target complete carbon neutrality for the city by 2030 at the latest.

Of course, reaching such a target for an entire city in just over eleven years is an exceedingly tall order. And most of the reporting around the issue doesn't seem to lay out exactly how a city becomes carbon neutral in such a small timeframe. For all the poop-powered buses and urban wind turbines, Bristol still suffers from immense traffic jams, poor air quality and leaky old Victorian housing stock.

Yet whether or not the goal can actually be reached, I tend to applaud the intent of getting there. I believe the sheer scale of the climate emergency we face is such that ambitious—perhaps audacious—goals and large scale mobilization to reach them is the only rational option. If we only get 75 percent of the way there, well, we'll still be better off than the current bias for incrementalism and/or inaction.

And as I said regarding Spain's recent goal setting, those who leap first and most confidently into the low carbon future stand to gain as the rest of the world follows.

Bristol, England, aims for carbon neutrality by 2030
"It's an emergency," say council members. "So let's act like it."

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