On 8-May-2021 the WECA mayor is up for election, as well as the Bristol mayor, the PCC and local councillors. This website tells you the voting options for your address: https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/ .
The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is a tier of local government that has substantial powers and funding covering the Bristol. South Gloucestershire, and Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) areas. This may be extended to include North Somerset.
The WECA mayor is important for future sustainability so Bristol FoE have done some analysis of the issues to help inform your vote. We are also partnering in environmental hustings online for you to meet the candidates and ask questions, see events. For a longer article see http://www.bristolfoe.org.uk/weca21/ .
Bristol, BANES and WECA have all declared climate emergencies and adopted a policy of reaching net zero emissions by 2030. To achieve this it is essential that emissions reduction is at the heart of all WECA policies. This is urgent to ensure the region has a green recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic: there is now lots of evidence that a large part of our decarbonisation needs to happen in the next 5-10 years to avoid the most serious negative consequences.
Transport currently amounts to around 25% of CO2 emissions and the proportion is rising.
WECA produces strategies for all means of transport from walking, cycling and electric scooters through public transport and cars to freight, and administers government funding for transport schemes.
To get emissions down the region needs to dramatically reduce the amount of car travel, and support electrification for remaining travel and transport.
Other energy is responsible for around 50% of emissions, and a lot of that is wasted in heating and cooling inefficient buildings. A building ‘retrofit revolution’ for energy efficiency and conversion to low-carbon heating and cooling is vital, along with developing and deploying renewable energy supplies such as wind, tidal and solar.
The low uptake of the recent government Green Homes Grant was largely due to lack of accredited installers and contractors, so this is an essential and urgent area for skills development and accreditation.
Decarbonisation strategies for all industry and business also needs to be at the top of the agenda, and the mayor needs to influence the type of industries that are allowed and encouraged to develop in the region.
As well as being very low carbon, the location of new housing developments in relation to transport infrastructure and jobs is important – not only in reducing CO2 emissions from transport and avoiding flooding but also in creating better communities.
There is also the need to grow a larger proportion of our food locally, in sustainable ways on our best agricultural soils, and reduce the environmental burden of producing and importing meat and dairy products and animal fodder. This is key to address both the climate and nature emergencies we face locally and globally.