Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

European Green Capital Award 2014

And yes, it could be Bristol. We're in the final three of nineteen starters.... along with Frankfurt and Copenhagen. 

The final's on June 8th, when the three will pitch their bids to a panel of international judges. When, a few days later, the winner is declared, expect celebrations like we had when the Olympics were awarded. Though not necessarily here.

The notion of Bristol as THE European Green Capital for 2014 may seem just a bit fanciful.    OK, we've probably got more than UK average green initiatives and the groups to promote them. But the council (and especially business) take rather less interest. If, as the Tories would wish, we get a mayor who's primarily interested in public cutbacks and business growth, we can expect green issues to take a back seat.

So it's easy to dismiss the city's bid, and, with it, the campaign to persuade us all to sign up in support.

But best not be hasty. The council may be much less green than it could be – but it is a master of the green spin that could just take the prize (who else could promote a new highway to carry around 20,000 vehicles a day as if it was essentially a 'green' bus route; when only 150 of those vehicles would be buses!) And if Bristol should win, who will step up to accept the big prize, with a few well-chosen weasel words? None other than one of the biggest advocates of building on the green belt!

If Bristol should win, the city and its new all-powerful mayor will be under huge pressure to show, in 2014, that it can live up to Europe's accolade.

So, me, I'll sign up to the bid.

[added 22/5/2012]
 The 'expert appraisal' of all 12 performance measures for the three finalists can be viewed here 
Much more about the award and how it works on the Green Capital website 


Stockwood Pete said...

The sign-up pages tell you that "The more people you tell, the more people will sign, and the more likely we are to win".

I wonder how that works.... is it one of the criteria that the independent judges and assessors will be considering? That brings it down to the level of an Evening Post on-line poll.

Anonymous said...

If this was the European Empty Green Spin award, we would have a greater chance.

However, it would be a disgrace if this city won this award. i am not anti-Bristol but I am pro-truth and honesty.


Darren Hall said...

We don't know for definite that it will have a significant impact, but 1/3 of the final criteria is about communications. (1/3 is vision and 1/3 is our 2014 plan). Feedback from Vitoria Gasteiz, who are this years winners, was that showing broad public support was a good thing to do and the jury would take it into account.

Best wishes,

Darren - Green Capital Manager

Darren Hall said...

p.s for Harry

Our bid was independently scrutinised by a panel of European experts. We did really well on some aspects and less well on others, so it is a fair and honest appraisal. I think it's good to be proud of what we have achieved, its a comparative rather than absolute test i.e. we know know we are second in Europe against those others that applied this time round. Winning the final would be amazing, but I agree with you that there is still a huge amount still to do if we are to be a genuinely green city.

Stockwood Pete said...

Thanks, Harry and Darren.

Looking at the expert evaluations of the different cities' performances, I have to say that Bristol's, at least, doesn't inspire confidence. For instance we managed first place (of 18) in climate change, air quality and noise pollution, and 4th place on local transport. On waste management, where Bristol's domestic performance would compare very well with most UK cities, we're a mere 7th - well beaten by the other finalists and by Belgium.

I suppose the playing field is far from level; UK cities probably have far less discretion over these things than their European counterparts, so (for instance) it's far more difficult to manage public transport and its part in combatting climate change, noise and air pollution. Though the South Bristol Link should set us well back on all counts.

On balance, I see the whole thing as a bit of carefully contrived theatre, with truth and objectivity largely sidelined. I expect it's true of most of the applicant cities.

Even so, I signed! Put it down to expediency!

between-the-lines said...

Darren Hall: "there is still a huge amount still to do if we are to be a genuinely green city."


As the Green Capital website puts it:

"Later on in the day Vitoria-Gasteiz will proudly show why they are the European green Capital for 2012. Guests will visit one of the proudest environmental initiatives – the stunning Green Belt"

Could there be a lesson here for Bristol, do you think?