September 2021: News from the Metro Mayor Dan Norris

August 27 2021

LAST month’s United Nations report couldn’t have been clearer on the climate emergency: it’s Code Red for humanity.
Unless world leaders take urgent action, our planet carries on heating up, meaning more devastating floods, more fierce heatwaves, more vicious wildfires.
The easiest thing for decision-makers would be doing more of the same when it comes to economic growth and jobs. Some say that’s what created this global crisis. But leadership isn’t about taking easy decisions – quite the opposite. Radical and creative thinking is long overdue.
As a teenager growing up in our area, I remember a slogan of the time: “Think globally, act locally.” That couldn’t be more apt.  
I’m sticking firm to my commitment to oppose Bristol Airport’s proposed expansion. That isn’t about stunting economic growth, as some may paint it, it’s about taking urgent, pragmatic local action to protect our irreplaceable planet.  
Of course we need more jobs here as we emerge from a brutal pandemic, but in green industries, not airports, investing in projects to help meet our ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.
This month I’ll launch a £20 million Green Recovery Fund, in line with the commitment I made to you during the spring’s Metro Mayor election. You’ll hear more about this soon.  
In four months since becoming Metro Mayor I’ve given funding to several other environmentally-focused projects.
Bristol’s biggest visitor attraction, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, bagged money from the West of England Combined Authority, which I lead, for a heat recovery device to stop its hull rusting.  
Made by Husk, a Bristol company customising kitchen cabinets, received a grant for LED lighting and solar panels. Pentagon Play, a Bradley Stoke playground equipment firm, got money for energy-saving improvements to its building.  
Embracing pedal power, I secured £248,000 from the government for electric bicycles which make it easier to get around, leaving cars at home without having to be a lycra-clad fitness fanatic! Look out for details of taster sessions, training courses and loan schemes.
That fits well with work just starting on a new cycling and walking trail, made possible by a £1 million grant from the West of England Combined Authority, around the stunning Chew Valley Lake, which is visited by thousands of people across our area, including me and my dog, Angel.  
Anticipating future challenges and finding solutions has always been key to progress, and there’s great work in that respect going on locally. At S&B Automotive in Bedminster I met apprentices being trained to service the electric vehicles of the future, removing roadblocks to achieving the plan to end petrol and diesel car sales by 2030.  
In a few weeks’ time COP26, the UN climate change conference, begins in Glasgow. We’ll be reminded again of what looms unless we take collective action.
Just over 10 years ago I was Environment Minister: it was clear there was an emergency back then, but now it’s even more urgent.
Code Red is real. It’s humanity’s greatest crisis. Let’s work together here in the West of England to play our part in beating it.