On Tuesday 24th July, Low Carbon South West hosted another of their monthly business breakfasts, this month on the theme of achieving against our climate goals. The event was entitled The Journey to Carbon Neutrality and opened with freelance researcher and writer, Nikki Jones highlighting the urgency of action required to stay below 2°C.

Nikki warned that we are increasing global CO2 emissions by 2-3ppm (parts per million) per year and we peaked this year at over 412ppm. She stressed that with 450ppm being considered commensurate with 2°C, urgent action is needed. Indeed, the UN are saying we have 1-2 years to stay below 1.5°C and only 5-10 years to make the decisions to stay below 2°C. Nikki went on to outline the impacts of a warming world, with predictions of 15-35cm sea level rise by 2050 and the UK already experiencing 2-5 extreme/unusual weather events per year.

Nikki also discussed the issues associated with carbon accounting. Fossil fuelled electricity, for example, is extremely wasteful with huge losses associated with its extraction, conversion and transportation. Shipping and aviation emissions are not even included in a country’s emissions figures. And although it appears that UK fossil fuel energy consumption, particularly coal is on the decline, one needs to bear in mind the shifting of UK carbon emissions overseas and the embodied emissions of the many products that are now imported into the UK.

Nikki then discussed the Plan B Earth court case, backed and promoted by Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser (2000-2007), which stresses the need for the UK to take more drastic action than is currently outlined in the 2008 Climate Change Act. More action is particularly needed in relation to reducing emissions associated with heating and transport. She ended by summarising the contents of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy which includes plans for increased nuclear, off-shore wind and carbon capture and storage, the promotion of EVs (Electric Vehicles), insulation, heat pumps and hydrogen but reduced/no support for hydro, solar, onshore wind, tidal and pumped storage.

Nikki Jones is willing to give talks in other work place environments, so please get in touch with her if you would like to book her in. She does not charge for her time but would welcome donations for Solar Aid.

Low Carbon South West then welcomed James Sterling from Bristol City Council’s Energy Service who presented the carbon reduction achievements made to date and the future aspirations for the city of Bristol.

Amongst other achievements, Bristol has been voted GLOMO Smart City 2018, was named European Green Capital 2015 and has delivered over £50m of low-carbon energy since 2012. Additionally, Bristol is the only local authority in the country to own large scale wind turbines, as well as investing £5m in solar PV on council-owned buildings and land, £2m in biomass boilers, £5m in heat networks and setting up Bristol Energy, one of the only municipally-owned energy companies in the UK. All of these initiatives are aiding the mayor’s commitment towards the city being carbon neutral by 2050.

The local authority has an ambition of delivering up to £1bn of low carbon, smart energy infrastructure in Bristol over the next 10 years and is calling for local, national and international partners to help deliver against this ambition. The City Leap Prospectus identifies the opportunities available to business and James spoke in some detail about opportunities associated with heat networks, smart energy systems, renewable energy and energy efficiency. For those organisations that see opportunities to work in partnership on the council’s future energy projects, James encouraged attendees to express an interest in the City Leap Programme via their website, where they will need to fill out a short form. The expression of interest window is open until 31st August 2018.

The event closed with some lively networking over the remaining fruit and pastries!


We would like to offer sincere thanks to the speakers for their in-depth and enlightening presentations, and also a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it worthwhile and came away with some useful insights/collaborations.

Please email us with any feedback or future topic ideas.

Author: Katherine Piper