Green Tech Matters – Bristol’s City-Scale Decarbonisation

Green Tech South West were delighted to welcome James Sterling, Communications, Engagement and Partnerships Manager at Bristol City Council, to explain all about City Leap – an exciting new approach to accelerating green energy investment in Bristol and helping us achieve our net zero carbon ambitions.

James joined us on Tuesday, March 16th at 12.30pm and we caught up with him ahead of his talk. (Register for the event HERE.)

ADLIB: For those who don’t know about City Leap, would you be able to give us a quick summary?

James: City Leap is a long-term partnership between the Council and a private sector organisation to accelerate green energy investment in Bristol and help us achieve our net zero carbon ambitions.

Proposed City Leap investments will have an impact on many aspects of life for Bristol residents including the way people move around the city (e.g. EV charging points) and the way we power and heat our homes (e.g. mass roll out of solar panels, expanding the city’s heat network and decarbonising our social housing stock).

For the citizens of Bristol City, Leap has the potential to deliver a better quality of life by improving the warmth and comfort of homes, improving air quality and creating local jobs in energy and related supply chains

ADLIB: How is Bristol doing? What have been the successes so far?

James: On the whole, Bristol has made great progress in decarbonisation. The council has reduced its own emissions by nearly 80% since 2005, while supporting the city to make a 37% reduction in the same timescale. The council has invested over £60 million in low-carbon projects and technologies in the last decade, including the creation of our own large-scale wind turbines, a solar farm (and hundreds of rooftop solar arrays on our corporate and community buildings), a wide-spreading heat network, hundreds of electric vehicle charge points and a significant programme of energy efficiency upgrades across our properties and social housing estate.

However, despite our best efforts and a significant level investment, we know that the current level of activity is simply not enough to get us to carbon neutrality by 2030. This is why we see partnerships as a key mechanism for Bristol to play its part in addressing the climate crisis. This is the core ethos behind City Leap.

ADLIB: What kind of technologies do you feel will become crucial for our city?

James: Like in all cities, Bristol’s energy system is set to undergo a transformation. As well as building on the work that we have done with renewables and decarbonized heat, we have the opportunity to facilitate this change by use of real time data, investment in energy storage and distributed energy generation to create a genuinely smart energy system for Bristol.

ADLIB: How optimistic are you that Bristol could become the UK’s first carbon-neutral city?

James: We have some stiff competition from other core cities for sure, but we have a strong track record of excellence when it comes to sustainability. A core part of our work is about knowledge sharing though and I’m always keen to work with other local authorities to support their efforts in decarbonization.

We have lots of experience to share and feel that it is our duty to share this wherever possible. If Bristol becomes the first city to become carbon neutral, but others remain decades behind, our efforts to address the climate crisis will have been in vain. This is a national and global challenge and it’s important for me to keep that in mind, always.

ADLIB: What can we do as individuals to help make this happen?

James: There are so many things that individuals can do, but admittedly these aren’t always clear at a glance. For those that are able, investment in energy efficiency within the home should be a priority, cutting the bills but also reducing the amount of energy that the household uses. Considering a truly green energy tariff or supplier is also a really quick win, which can take literal minutes to do and ensures that the energy that you are using comes from approved renewable sources.

We’ve actually just launched a climate hub website which can guide residents through various interventions that they can make to cut carbon in their daily lives. It’s well worth a look and could even end up saving you money, as well as doing your bit to support our city in becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Thank you James for the chat.

James took the virtual stage at our Green Tech SW meetup on Tuesday 16th of March at 12.30 pm. Head over to the meetup page for more details (

About GreenTech South West:
We’re here to provide you with expert insight and thought-provoking discussions on how technology can improve our physical environment and battle the massive, urgent issue of climate change. We are a community/people-focused group with an open and inclusive ethos. We run regular meetups, both physical and virtual, with a range of lightning presentations, round-room debates and panel discussions from those working or researching green technology. Sponsored by ADLIB and supported by Future Economy Network and Climate Action Tech.

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Head Of Tech (Permanent)

CTO/Leads, Developers, GreenTech

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Mike Harley