The fierce wind of Storm Eunice shows why we must not forget about climate change
Storm Eunice hit on Friday, bringing disruption across the country and once again focusing minds on climate change and how it may impact our lives in the future.
Scientists are often reluctant to blame specific weather events on climate change, but the Met Office predicts that in future the UK will see warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers and more frequent and intense weather extremes.
If we continue to burn fossil fuels and cut down our forests at the same rate, the Earth could warm by more than 4C by 2100, bringing potentially drastic consequences to our planet.
Last week, the City Corporation unveiled the next phase of our successful ‘Cool Streets and Greening’ programme, which aims to take practical steps here in the Square Mile to combat the risks resulting from climate change.
The programme is introducing measures such as climate-resilient planting, sustainable drainage and tree planting in our streets and open spaces to protect against impacts such as flooding, heat stress and biodiversity loss.
It forms part of the City Corporation’s ambitious Climate Action Strategy, which commits us to achieving net zero carbon in our own operations by 2027 and across our investments and supply chain by 2040; and supporting the achievement of net zero for the Square Mile as a whole by the same year.
The 11,000 acres of green spaces in and around London which we protect already remove an estimated 16,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year – equivalent to 44 per cent of our annual carbon footprint.
We’ve helped to cut the capital’s emissions by leading a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling and bringing in emissions-based charges for parking in the Square Mile, rewarding drivers of lower emission vehicles with lower tariffs. We launched our Air Quality Strategy, which will ensure the Square Mile meets World Health Organisation limits on nitrogen dioxide by 2030 and, alongside the Government, set up the Green Finance Institute, the principal forum for public and private sector collaboration in green finance.
Further action being taken includes a switch to purchasing only renewable energy, making our buildings more energy efficient and becoming the first UK authority to run a fully zero-emission fleet of refuse vehicles.Climate change directly impacts all of us. We need to prepare for it and take decisive action now, but that doesn’t mean compromising on the economy.
Our Climate Action Strategy will drive growth and jobs, and we’re determined to work with Square Mile firms to make the City a world leader in the climate change fight and to build a greener City where we all play our part.
We will combine our financial resources and skills with those of large businesses in the City to co-invest in low or zero-carbon technologies that will further shrink the Square Mile’s carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, we will make the City ‘greener’ on the ground, dedicating more space to walking and cycling, with wider pavements, new parks, timed street closures and flood-resistant road surfaces installed.
After the last few years, it would be understandable if the pandemic and its continuing impact were to nudge other concerns to the back of our minds. But it shouldn’t be allowed to fade into the background.