Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has warned that cities and businesses may not get the support needed to access the funding announced at COP26 to ease the transition to net zero.

Mr Rees told business leaders, business groups and local authorities across the west of England at a COP26 regional event that there was a “real danger” that huge sums of money would money for decarbonization to be announced at the United Nations climate change summit, but that cities remain “exactly where they are now” without the capacity, expertise, scale or resources to do so. to access.

Traveling direct from Glasgow to the Bristol We The Curious Science Museum, Mr Rees updated the city region’s turnovers on discussions he had at the conference with financial institutions, investors and government officials.

Businesses and city-based organizations have been urged to join the Bristol One City Climate Change Ask initiative and commit to developing a plan to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

Participating companies agree to create an emissions reduction strategy within six months of the commitment and then start implementing it within one year.

Colin Skellett, managing director of utility company Wessex Water and YTL UK Group, which includes the developer behind the Bristol Arena project, was among those to present the business case for net zero at the event.

Panels made up of representatives of companies in the region taking action to reduce their emissions, offered advice on the support available to help the transition to greener operations.

Mr. Rees said BusinessLive at a time when he would like to see all Bristol organizations sign up to achieve the net zero goal by 2030.

Mr Rees said: “Bristol is a collective act. We have spoken of municipal government to municipal government. City government focuses on Bristol City Council. But we are only one organization in Bristol.

“If we want to decarbonize and have a good impact, it has to be us, the health service, the big energy users, the police, private businesses, the voluntary community sector, we all generate and create what Bristol is. .

“That’s why we launched the appeal. It is important that we receive the offer first. First we want to make an offer and that has to be support, to help companies do it, and then the request is that they go and do it. They have this plan in place and are starting to implement it to be net zero by 2030.

“If we all do this collectively, let’s start moving in the same direction, that would be phenomenal for the city and for the contribution we make to the UK and to the world.”

Mr Rees and other leaders of major UK cities have formed the UK Climate Change Investment Commission to quantify and promote investments in decarbonization.

The group has calculated that cities need around £ 200bn to decarbonise transport and buildings, bringing residents and businesses to net zero, of which Bristol requires £ 9bn of investment.

Mr Rees said an opportunity was missed to form a detailed investment plan before the world leaders arrived in Scotland.

He said: “I think there is already a weakness in the COP, in that the work to identify the amount of investment actually needed and the work to connect city leaders to that investment has not. been done before getting there.

“We could have gone to the COP and made announcements on how much funding is needed, where it will come from and where it will go.

“We could have had examples in place, 10 projects on each continent in different types of cities that show a path to decarbonization with billions of pounds for these trips.

“We could have done it and we didn’t. So this is a missed opportunity. But we are where we are. We haven’t, and I hope there is an awareness of the importance of city leadership and putting this funding in place now, and there will be a fierce commitment to it. back of the COP to make this a reality.

Mr Rees said he and other UK city leaders spoke to a Treasury minister at a Glasgow summit event about the possibility of talks on a detailed decarbonization plan, and received a “warm response “.

He reiterated that while funding would be made available to encourage decarbonization, more help was needed for cities and local authorities to access it.

Mr Rees said: “If what comes out of the COP is that we say 1.2 billion pounds here and a 50 million pound pot there, you still haven’t allowed the places to go. ‘access that money. They didn’t make it any easier, they just said there was more money, and that’s the challenge.

“A well-defined problem is a half-solved problem. Sometimes we solve the problem that people don’t actually have, we solve the problem that we think they have.

“What the city leaders are saying is that we need support to access the money, so that we can achieve our ambitious plans. And if we are supported to access it, we will just do it. But for now, it’s the relationship that needs to be saved.

A government spokesperson said: “Boards have a critical role to play in achieving a net zero goal, and we will continue to work closely with local partners to meet our climate change commitments.

“Significant funding is already available for councils to take local action, including £ 1.2bn in dedicated funds, as well as clear expectations on how central and local government interact in delivery net zero. “

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