Sub-state climate change actors in Bristol: Hope for a just and inclusive transition?

Ensuring a just transition to a carbon neutral and climate resilient city in Bristol.

The challenge

In February 2020, Bristol launched the ambitious One City Climate Strategy committing to becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030. The Strategy calls for a fair and collaborative approach based upon a just transition, but how can we ensure that happens?

What we're doing

We are interested in the role sub-state actors might play in supporting such a transition. In particular, we intend to investigate whether their decision-making is fair and inclusive. This is important, because the state-led global response to climate change has been heavily criticised for silencing the voices of the most vulnerable.

Our project will bring together a cross-section of six Bristol-based actors engaged in climate policy: two from the public sector (Bristol One City Environment/Economics Board, Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change) two from the private sector (Arup, Cycling Works), and two from civil society (Black and Green, Liveable Neighbourhoods). Bristol One City Board, the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Black and Green have all agreed to take part. We will observe decision-making procedures and conduct interviews with members from these six sub-state actors. From this, we will compare their approaches to just decision making and assess whether these are in line with Bristol’s One City Strategy.

The data collected will be analysed and collated into a publicly available policy brief that will be launched a workshop in spring/summer 2021. The policy brief will outline best practice and pitfalls of inclusive decision making and is intended to inform future action on climate change in Bristol and beyond. Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, has expressed an interest in our project and has said the policy report will be a vital piece of research that can be used to guide action on climate change in Bristol.

The workshop, which Marvin Rees, Black and Green, the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change, and the One City Board have all expressed an interest in, will gather stakeholders from the city as well as the Cabot Institute and allow us to present our work and enable a dialog about a just transition in Bristol. In terms of academic outputs, we will co-author a journal article, targeted at climate policy and climate justice experts, who have so far under-researched procedural justice at the sub-state level. Finally, this project will act as a pilot, enabling us to apply for a large grant (AHRC Early Career Grant) and expand our research scope to the global level. 

Read the Policy Briefing that resulted from this work.

How it helps

We hope to inform the development of more just and inclusive climate policy responses and help lift the voices of the most vulnerable in our society who may be impacted most by the effects of climate change.


  • Dr Alix Dietzel, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol
  • Dr Alice Venn, University of Exeter

Alix Dietzel Lead researcher profile

Dr Alix Dietzel, Lecturer in Politics

Partner organisations

  • University of Exeter
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