Opinion: Were Extinction Rebellion Right To Target Bristol? The Answer Is More Naunced Than We Think

As a Bristolian, one of the most frustrating things this week has been the Extinction Rebellion protests. Indeed, more than 1,000 people (many of which weren’t actually from Bristol) swarmed on our city, blocked up our main roads and streets and demanded the government takes immediate action on climate change. But was Bristol the right city?

First of all, we need to take a pause for thought here. More than 1,000 people sounds huge, but that’s almost nothing when compared to the size of our city. Latest figures show that Bristol has a population of just over 537,000, so although 1,000 protesters can (and did) cause considerable carnage and delays, 1,000 people makes up shy of 0.2% of our city. I’m sure the percentage of residents who were peeved at the protesters for the amount of CO2 the roadblocks were creating was much, much greater.

Throughout the week, one of the most devastating stories to hit the headlines was the story of the man who could not get to the hospital in time to be with his dying Dad. Across Bristol, such saddening saddening circumstances led to widespread vitriol and even outright hatred toward the protesters.

At the same time, Bristol also saw the catastrophic fire of the Premier Inn in Cribbs Causeway. While the police were ensuring that protests commenced peacefully, a few miles away, debris was falling onto the motorway. The police were stretched so thin that teams were called in from other counties.

But Extinction Rebellion still believes that they can help save us from ourselves.

To understand what they want, current climate change statistics suggest that sea levels could rise by 7 metres by 2050. For Bristol, a port city with it’s centre on the river and many riverside villages along the way, the damage would be catastrophic.  In that sense, then, the protesters are correct.

However, at the same time, Bristol also holds the European Green Council Award for being the greenest city in the UK. We have many wonderful systems to reduce our cqrbon footprint, including;-

  • Perhaps the most novel first, eco “boo” buses, which are powered by human excrement (heads up, they don’t smell, and there is USB charging points, too)
  • 44% of household waste is recycled, which is processed at one of two nearby recycling facilities
  • “Slim my waste” scheme, encouraging households to put food waste in brown food waste caddies, which then gets used to generate electricity
  • Many restaurants are members of the “TooGoodToGo” scheme, resulting in less food waste
  • Vegan restaurants and takeaways
  • Takeaways that use recyclable containers, promoting zero waste
  • Reuse & recycle networks, encouraging residents to give away items they no longer want or need
  • Exhibits and talks at various popular attractions promoting positive and thought-provoking awareness of healthy living, renewable energy and environmental waste
  • Parks and open spaces with pollinator-friendly plants and trees
  • 4 wind turbines on Avonmouth docks on the Bristol Channel

And more

Climate change is real, it is scary and for Bristol, it absolutely and undeniably could be catastrophic. However, the message that these protesters carried was doom and gloom and with no hope for humanity.

Bristol is a thriving, bustling city with a dedication for our future and a wonderful community spirit. Rather than clogging up or streets, protesting about climate change and leading to even more CO2 and pollution in the atmosphere of a city that is already listening, listen to what we do, then take away a thing or two and teach other cities that aren’t yet in the race.


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