The European Green Capital

The ceremony for the bestowing of the European Green Capital 2015 Award took place last week in Nantes, France. The location was chosen on purpose, as Nantes was the winner for this year. The prize is given since 2007 to a city which can prove that it has both good longstanding green practices and glamorous plans for the future. “Green” doesn’t refer only to the number of trees in the city centre, but to the whole attitude towards the environment.

And the winner is…. Bristol!

The UK’s sixth biggest city was chosen for the prestigious award for 2015. It has already proven that it is environmentally friendly: in the recent years Bristol has managed to double the numbers of cyclists and the plans are to double them again until 2020. Bristol will also invest 500 million Euro for transport improvements by 2015 and up to 300 million Euro for energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2020. 

The competition was hard – the other three shortlisted cities were Brussels, Ljubljana and Glasgow. They all were marked by an independent panel of experts in 12 different categories, including water wastage, eco-innovations and sustainable employment. 

Bristol’s ambition is to turn into European hub for low-carbon industry. It has set a target of 17,000 new jobs in creative, digital and low carbon sector by 2030. In this way the city of the famous street artist Banksy will be even more appealing to people passionate about arts and media and will be even livelier than it is now. 

“Bristol: Laboratory for change”

Much of Bristol’s liveliness is coming from the two big universities in the city. They have also played a major role in the competition, as researchers from both universities are working towards new ways of reducing the impact on the global environment. The University of the West of England is also applying different technologies in its campus, so that it is clear what works and what does not. 

New ways of transport 

Transport is an issue for each big city and Bristol seems quite creative in the ways it deals with it. The Bio-Bug, build in Bristol, is the first car running on human waste. Just 70 households can fuel it for a year. There is also a hydrogen passenger ferry that runs across the harbor. 

On a more trivial note, the city council has already managed to change the traveling pattern of Bristolians: the parking space in the city centre is limited, so many prefer to cycle or walk. There are also plans to extend the successful pilot project of introducing 20 mph zones to all resident areas. 

The next logical step will be the decrease of the public transport fares across the city, which are believed to be among the highest in England. Although the providers of the public transport services are indeed privately owned and the City Council has limited authority, hopefully the companies will show consideration towards the green policy of the city and will stimulate Bristolians to use their services.