Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bristol the greenest city? Or Norwich? Neither?

This news, 'Bristol is Britain's greenest city', is indeed 'ludicrous', as one commenter on the Bristol Evening Post website put it. Poor public transport, plans to build houses and roads over many green spaces, poor air quality in several places, plans to mass incinerate waste, promotion of mass consumption of imported goods via the new Cabot Circus, a large and growing ecological footprint...hardly a green city is it!! Bristol is not a sustainable city by any fair measure, though may be less unsustainable than some others - that, at best, is what we are talking about!! What are the people who shortlist Bristol to be a European Green Capital and judge Bristol as Britain's greenest city on? Whatever it is it distorts their grip on reality big time!! (More on Forum for the Future's thinking on green cities here).

My view is that there are several other UK cities that are, relative to Bristol, less unsustainable (** Norwich for example...??) though I would not describe any of these as green. The problem with all these sort of exercises is that:

a) the headlines may give people the impression that enough is being done to sort problems out when in fact they are at best just tinkering at the edges, and

b) its very sensitive to the list of criteria used to make the judgements - change those a bit and you change the outcome and get a list of cities in a different order ** !! Conclusion: its not a very objective exercise, certainly when conducted in this manner.

I was very interested to see that a green blogger in Cardiff has independently reached exactly the same conclusions about this issue.

** 16 April 2008 - For the second year running Norwich has been voted the Greenest city in the UK.

According to an annual survey by locallife.co.uk [as opposed to Forum for the Future], Norwich has more green businesses, organisations and representatives per capita than anywhere else. The research has found that Norwich has one recycling centre, Green councillor, farm shop, environmental consultant, insulation installer, organic food shop, double glazing business, asbestos removal service and conservation group for every 1,736 local people. (reported here)