In December 2014, Bristol was officially handed the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) title for 2015 from the EU Commission. Bristol follows on from Copenhagen, the 2014 European Green Capital and plans to emphasise the importance of finding shared solutions to environmental challenges, with a programme focused on Learning, Innovation and Leadership.
Today more than two thirds of Europeans live in towns and cities. Urban areas concentrate most of the environmental challenges facing our society, but also can bring together commitment and innovation to resolve them.
Bristol impressed the Jury with its investment plans for transport and energy. Carbon emissions have consistently reduced in the city since 2005, despite a growing economy. Almost a fifth of residents walk to work and 90% live within 300m of parklands or waterways. The city's low carbon economy employs around 9,000 people and in 2014 it was named 'best place to live in the UK' by the Sunday Times.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Citizens of Bristol should be very proud, and I congratulate them on winning the title of European Green Capital 2015. Bristol offers inspiration to other European cities that also want to evolve towards a greener future.”
Commissioner Vella also launched the European Green Leaf, a competition for smaller European cities that show a strong commitment to green growth and a sustainable urban environment. “Size isn't everything – especially when it comes to the environment. The Green Leaf is aimed at cities with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, and more than 450 European cities can now apply. So many stories to share – make sure we hear them!” he said.
The European Green Leaf, aimed at cities with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, will also be awarded on an annual basis by the European Commission. It will recognise commitment to better environmental outcomes, with a particular accent on efforts that generate green growth and new jobs. The competition is open for applications until 31 March 2015.
RPS has managed the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) project in technical, environmental and communications terms on behalf of the European Commission for the past four years, including appointment and management of the independent expert panel. During that period, Vitoria Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013), Copenhagen (2014) and now Bristol have been holders of the Award. Ljubljana will hold the European Green Capital Award in 2016.
For more information on Bristol as European Green Capital 2015 or the new European Green Leaf competition, visit http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm