Why Bristol is killing it in saving the planet

Various factors suggest that Bristol is the greenest city for commuting and shopping, as well as for its council’s environmental pledges.

Many experts believe the next decade is crucial if we are to combat climate change. And as the government introduces a number of policies to help achieve its net zero ambitions, from boiler bans to the installation of car charging points in new homes, it’s clear many of us will need to adopt a more environmentally friendly way of life.

However, according to research from heating systems manufacturer, Viessmann, just under two thirds of Brits say they are eager to adopt a greener lifestyle, compared to just 5% who say they don't want or plan to. The remaining 31% reported they currently don’t feel strongly either way.

Unsurprisingly when asked about the main obstacle stopping them from living a greener lifestyle, 45% of respondents stated the higher cost, followed by 13% believing there currently aren’t enough green options available to make the lifestyle truly viable. The third most common reason given was simply a lack of time.

Viessmann surveyed 1,000 UK residents in an effort to better understand the nation’s current attitudes towards aspects of green living and to determine what areas of life they considered most important for an ‘eco-friendly lifestyle’.

From its data, Viessmann identified five indicators of environmentally-friendliness. They were categorised as transportation, diet, shopping habits, home improvements and government policy. Based on these five indicators, it then asked who are the UK’s Greenest Citizens?

In order to determine this, a number of data sets were selected around each indicator and a unique scoring system was created to allow them to rank 19 UK cities based on how green their residents were.

According to the research, the people of Bristol lead the way when it comes to green living.

The city ranked in the top position across a number of Viessmann’s categories, taking the top spot for commuting and shopping habits and joint first place with seven other councils for its performance on green issues.

Leicester followed closely in second position, appearing in the top 10 for environmentally-sound commuting, dining, shopping and domestic energy consumption.

Edinburgh rounded off the top three with the Scottish capital consistently appearing in the top three for eco-friendly commuting, dining, shopping and council performance.

The UK’s most eco-friendly commuters

In order to determine which city’s residents had the most eco-friendly transportation habits, Viessmann focussed on the daily commute, examining how many locals commute by foot and bike, two of the most common carbon neutral commuting options.

Each city was then scored between one to 19 based on the percentage of its population that commutes by foot and then again for bike.

Bristol came out on top, with one in seven workers in the city getting to and from work by foot, and 6.08% by bike. Edinburgh came second, with the highest proportion (16.34%) of workers commuting by foot and 4.3% commuting by bike.

In third position was Southampton, with 12.56% walking or running to and from work, and 3.8% cycling.

The UK’s most eco-friendly restaurants

Research indicates that by 2025 a quarter of Brits will be either vegetarian or vegan and that half of us already say we know someone who is vegan. But when it comes to plant-based dining, Huddersfield is apparently well ahead of the curve with 809 restaurants offering vegan options per one million people.

Edinburgh took the second spot with 808 restaurants per one million, and Bradford came in third with 672.

The UK’s most eco-friendly shoppers

Overconsumption and wastefulness are all contributing to climate change, according to scientific research and in the last few years the issue of ‘fast fashion’ has taken centre stage for many people.

So, which cities are catering for shoppers who are trying to make more sustainable choices?

Bristol once again is paving the way. With 16 zero-waste or plastic-free shops per 1,00,000 people and an average of 3,207 online monthly searches for ‘charity shops near me’, this city seems to take the crown for the most environmentally-conscious shoppers.

Second spot goes to Edinburgh again, with 11 zero-waste or plastic-free stores per 1,000,00 population and 3,048 online searches for charity shops.

Leeds is next in line, with 15 sustainable stores and 2,017 charity shop searches per month.

The UK’s most eco friendly council

While the UK central government has set a number of ambitious targets for the country, including net zero by 2050, a number of local councils have also gone on record with their own goals for achieving zero carbon.

In order to rank councils’ performance on climate change Viessmann scored them on both their net zero target date and the presence of a clean air zone.

Eight councils perform equally well, with a target of 2030 to achieve zero carbon and with Clean Air Zones either in place or proposed. These councils are: Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Sheffield

The UK’s most eco friendly home owners

Moving away from our reliance on fossil fuels is also key if we’re to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. And while the government has announced a number of policies such as grants for heat pumps in the hopes of encouraging more people to adopt greener tech, there is no denying some homeowners are already leading the way.

In order to determine which city is making the most progress in reducing fossil fuel consumption Viessmann looked at the percentage of domestic solar panels in each of the 19 locations.

Nottingham is winning this race, with 4.6% of its domestic properties benefiting from solar panels, while Newcastle took second place with a respectable 3.7%.

And with 3.46% of it’s residents harnessing solar energy Bournemouth took third.