October 2023: News from Metro Mayor Dan Norris

GOOD politicians are ones who can “make the weather” – so goes the old adage.

It speaks to how good politics and politicians can take the decisions necessary to grip the big issues of the day, and improve society.

Sadly, this metaphor has acquired a literal sense in recent years, as the impact of the climate emergency we all face becomes clearer by the day.

Our weather is changing. Think of last year’s ‘False Autumn’, which spelt disaster for our trees, and animals who rely on them, or our recent washout summer. 

And it’s just the start. Experts say wetter winters, more intense cold spells and heatwaves will become more frequent due to climate change. ‘Unusual’ weather will become the norm.

One of the things that concerns me is the impact that will have on our West of England economy, and the million-plus people I represent as Metro Mayor.

It’s why I’m afraid I wasn’t surprised at this month’s GDP statistics, with this summer’s rainy weather apparently causing a big slump in the economy, particularly in retail and construction. 

The truth is we must get on top of this urgent problem and build a climate-resilient economy, here in the West and nationwide.

Otherwise we are sleepwalking into climate chaos, and economic chaos.

My Mayoral Combined Authority is getting on with the serious business of investing in climate resilience, in the absence of leadership from government.

I’m working with the Met Office on a brand new, region-wide climate adaptation plan after ministers’ one lacked the regional ambition necessary to take the tough choices we need to make to create a climate-resilient West of England economy.

That means planting even more trees like our new Great Avon Wood, the biggest new woodland in our region, funded by the Combined Authority, plus keeping streets cooler, measures to reduce flooding and retrofitting shops to keep them cosy.

This is stuff we’re already doing though my £60 million Green Recovery Fund, and other green programmes I’ve launched over the last two years.

Of course it’s also about transport, which is why we need to encourage more people out of cars, especially for those shorter everyday journeys.

So if it’s your birthday coming up, please do apply for your free Birthday Bus pass at www.birthdaybus.co.uk – it’ll give you the chance to try out our buses for free for a whole month, and if you like them, I hope it might persuade you to make a switch longer-term. 

These are steps everyone in our region can get behind, wherever they live, from our most rural communities to our beautiful market towns and great cities of Bristol and Bath.

Words are easy, but it is action that is required. So let’s brace for further storms ahead, and keep the West’s economy thriving.

We really can make the weather – together.