What is your job?
Mayor of Bristol. I lead the council and its councilors, help provide services to Bristol’s people, and represent their interests nationally and internationally. Ultimately, I am responsible for all major policy decisions and make executive decisions for the city worth more than £500,000 in spending or savings, or that impact more than one Bristol ward.
How are you helping cool the planet through your work?
By bringing together public and private sector organizations to achieve agreed goals and targets built on a single, powerful vision. As a result, we are climate leaders. We were the first U.K. city to declare a climate emergency in November 2018 — launching the shared One City Climate Strategy to address these challenges. We’ve made strides already: since 2005 Bristol has cut emissions by 42%. Our council reduced direct carbon emissions over 70% since 2015, but much more needs to be done. Among new actions are retrofitting homes to conserve energy and heat, planting trees, and protecting green space. Wind turbines and heat pumps are delivering clean energy with more sustainability investment expected. We are building flood defenses to protect our homes whilst preserving valuable natural wetlands. We also plan to build a mass transit system.
What most surprised you about your job?
Just how important a global worldview and interest in international issues (which I had) would be for myself as a mayor, to try to shape international policies and practice with other mayors. At university I heard ‘think global, act local’. In the mayoral model, you also need to think local and act global.
What can we do to get more young people into public service?
Providing opportunities for people to access public sector work through a variety of routes. Bristol has long worked across sectors to provide opportunities like apprenticeships, graduate schemes, and internships. Becoming a Living Wage City, as we are, also ensures that work opportunities of value are available to all individuals and communities.