New report launched at COP21 bolsters economic and political case for low-carbon urban investment

Posted on 1 Dec 2015 in

A new report published today (December 1) supported by CCCEP and authored by Andy Gouldson and Joel Millward-Hopkins concludes that Bristol – currently European Green Capital – could far exceed its target of reducing carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2025.

To do so will require large-scale financial investment as well as political will, the report says, but the potential returns on investment in low-carbon measures could be significant, generating up to 2,000 jobs and boosting economic growth both directly and indirectly.

Investing in a range of further cost-effective measures to cut emissions could see Bristol cut its £870m annual energy bill by at least a quarter – or £220m – within a decade.

The report – “The Economics of Low-Carbon Cities: A Mini-Stern Review for the City of Bristol” – underpins the key role cities must play in delivering effective solutions to global warming. It was launched at the global climate conference in Paris as two weeks of intense climate negotiations began in earnest.

In Bristol, it found that cost-effective investments in decarbonisation – those which would pay for themselves, on commercial terms, within their lifetime – would cut emissions by 11.6 per cent within ten years, compared with 2005.

While variables such as energy prices, and the rate at which the city’s electricity supplies are decarbonised, need to be factored in, overall Bristol could see a cut in emissions of more than 55 per cent within the same period.

Prof Gouldson said: “In the domestic and commercial sectors, as well as industry and transport, there are massive opportunities to cut emissions significantly at the same time as saving very substantial amounts of money.

“While the initial sums needed are very large, investments will not only pay for themselves but also provide multiple additional benefits in terms of public health and reduced fuel poverty, for example.”

The study – commissioned by the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol – was launched at the Paris summit’s Cities and Regions Pavilion as Bristol unveiled a series of pioneering projects marking its year as European Green Capital.

The report concludes that in the domestic sector alone, there are £270m worth of cost-effective, energy-efficient and low-carbon investment opportunities in Bristol which would generate annual savings of more than £100m a year.

These include fitting better loft and wall insulation, double glazing and energy-saving appliances.

In the commercial sector, similar measures within the public and private sectors present opportunities for a further £70m of investments generating potential savings of £40m a year.

But the authors also warn that while directly-produced carbon emissions are included in their analysis, those embodied in goods and services consumed within the city of Bristol are not.

Bristol could take a clear lead in tackling these so-called consumption-based emissions and set an example for the rest of the UK to follow, the report suggests.

Read the report here