Bristol mayor Marvin Rees flies nine hours for TED talk on tackling climate change

Marvin Rees was the first UK city mayor to declare a climate crisis in 2018. Credit: LDRS

The mayor of Bristol flew more than 4,600 miles for a TED talk on climate change.

Marvin Rees flew nine hours to Canada to give a 14-minute talk on how mayors play an important role in tackling climate change.

Mr Rees gave the talk in April and this week, it was made available for the public to watch online.

He spoke about how city mayors are "leading beyond their authority" and influencing global policy on cutting carbon emissions, and he called for more investment into cities.

In the TED talk, Mr Rees said: "If we can unlock the full potential of our cities, we can minimise the price the planet pays for hosting us in our growing numbers."

But questions have been raised about the decision to fly so far for a short talk on climate, given the huge carbon emissions associated with long-haul flights. The Green party has also criticised recent decisions by the mayor in Bristol, such as the removal of bike lanes.

The annual TED conference, held in Vancouver, took place in April. Credit: YouTube/TED

In response to the criticism, a spokesperson for the mayor's office said: "Bristol is a major UK city, with a global role.

"It was the first UK city to declare a climate emergency in 2018, and since then the mayor has united a city network to tackle the challenges of a climate and ecological emergency, while also striving for greater social equality.

"He has been clear – the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities, which generate three-quarters of global carbon emissions. And it is therefore the duty of city leaders to come together, lobby for change and influence each other to make a collective impact.

“The Mayor’s visit to Vancouver was not just to deliver the talk. He had a full agenda, which included meeting with the Mayor of Vancouver, the Managing Director of C40 Centre for Urban Climate Policy and Economy and the British Consul General in Vancouver.

"At the conference he was able to network with other influential speakers, sharing Bristol’s story and challenges with the aim of attracting future funding and inward investment.

"Other speakers included Bill Gates and Al Gore, alongside an audience of academics, educators, researchers, philanthropists, environmentalists, scientists, technologists, artists and activists.” 

  • Watch Marvin Rees' TED Talk in full

Credit: Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service