COP26: Bristol needs £9bn to become net zero and businesses

Businesses in the West will benefit from the investment and business opportunities associated with achieving the net-zero targets being discussed at COP26 in Glasgow this week.

Working with the other major cities in the UK we have formed the UK Climate Change Investment Commission to quantify and promote investment in UK city decarbonisation.

Yesterday I was at the heart of COP26 in Glasgow presenting the investment opportunity in Bristol and other UK cities to financial institutions, investors, businesses and government representatives.

We have identified opportunities for investment in public transport, electric mobility, new heating technologies and renewable energy generation. We’ve calculated that our major cities need about £200bn to decarbonise transport and buildings and enable our residents and businesses to be net-zero. We calculate that in Bristol some £9bn needs to be invested for the city to be net-zero.

The scale of investment we need will only be achieved by combining public and private sector investment in new and innovative ways. In Bristol, one of the ways we are doing this is to create the City Leap Energy Partnership which aims to attract £1bn of private sector investment to help cut the city’s emissions.

We plan to announce our new partners early next year and to see this investment start to create business and job opportunities in the city.

What I heard at COP26 was the enormous economic opportunities of decarbonisation. I heard from many businesses who are seeing the opportunities this presents.

Some of these businesses are already in the ‘low carbon’ sector – supplying things like renewable energy new technologies – but many more are in the general economy and recognise the opportunity in doing business differently.

Today we are bringing this conversation back to Bristol and the West of England with an official COP26 Roadshow – The Business of Net Zero. This regional COP26 green zone event shows how businesses and local government are working together to act now, whatever national governments do or do not agree in Glasgow next week.

Today’s event will showcase the many businesses in the city, large and small, which are working to cut their own carbon emissions and contribute to the city goal of net zero by 2030.

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The One City partners will also invite more organisations to commit to becoming net zero, to develop plans and to take action now. By starting to take action or by taking the next step in the net zero journey we can inspire others to act, and the more businesses that act the easier it becomes.

I sincerely hope that the world leaders in COP26 make an agreement which can protect our planet, our citizens and our economy, and work with cities and the private sector to ensure that we have the funds to deliver and make meeting the carbon reduction commitments a reality.

But whatever they agree, I know that the many business leaders in Bristol and the West will be committing to act and will seize the business opportunities it presents, creating jobs and hope for the future of our city

Net Zero: Why does it matter?

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat and keep the planet warm.

But the more of these gases we have put into the atmosphere through activities such as burning fossil fuels to heat homes, drive cars and provide electricity for our lives, the more the planet warms.

These rising temperatures drive climate change, the extreme weather, rising sea levels, heatwaves, and floods that we are already seeing increase around us.

Completely stopping emissions is extremely difficult, but there are some measures, such as planting trees, which can absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or creating ‘carbon sinks’ to capture and store carbon

So emissions have to be cut as much as possible, and any remaining pollution, from hard-to-tackle sectors such as aviation, needs to be “offset” by action that absorbs carbon to have the net effect of cutting emissions to zero.

To stabilise global temperature at any level, emissions must reach this “net zero” point eventually.

Scientists say that to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which increasingly dangerous climate impacts will be felt, global carbon emissions must be brought down to net zero by around 2050 with deep cuts to other greenhouse gases.