Planet Bristol: Peter Madden
IN JUST a few weeks' time, we'll be electing a mayor. What will they do for green issues? Bristol already enjoys an enviable environmental reputation. We're home to the Environment Agency, the Soil Association and the BBC Natural History Unit.
We're blessed with lots of great green spaces. And we're regularly ranked as one of the greenest cities in Europe.
But, there's no room for complacency; the mayor will have to show real leadership on environmental issues.
The number one priority has to be transport.
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Read any survey about what people loathe in our city, and transport always tops the list, with motorists complaining about congestion, bus passengers about fares, and cyclists about safety.
This not only ruins our quality of life, but will also increasingly affect our economic competitiveness. So the mayor should take control of our transport, get more and cheaper buses on the roads, and make Bristol a great place to walk and cycle.
The number two priority is green jobs. Bristol has a growing environmental technologies sector, with 'green-tech' business and world-class universities. But because the 'green-economy' is growing so quickly, other places round the world also want to grab the opportunity.
Practically every major city seems to be investing in these industries of the future. There's an enormous prize for Bristol to become a world centre for green jobs, technologies and services.
However, this won't happen automatically. If we are too laid back, in our West Country way, we will be overtaken by others.
And the third priority is to make Bristol a more environmentally efficient city, requiring less energy, generating less waste, and growing more of its own food.
At the moment, Bristol's ecological footprint is nearly 200 times the size of the city.
That means that if everyone on the earth used the same amount of resources as us, we'd need three planet Earths to sustain us!
And as global population grows to 9 billion, the world will certainly see shortages of land for food, of water to drink, and of oil for fuel.
If we're going to prosper in the future, we'll need to minimise the use of these resources.
So the mayor should take bold action to reduce Bristol's environmental footprint, by making homes energy efficient, helping businesses cut their carbon emissions, reducing dependency on private cars, and encouraging local food.
This will save us money here and now, and make us more resilient in the future.
I think we need a mayor who can see the bigger picture and take strategic decisions for the city.
If our new leader – whoever it ends up being – can seize these environmental opportunities, Bristol will be well-positioned for the 21st Century.
Peter Madden is the Chief Executive of Forum for the Future, the sustainable development charity.