Monday 28 June 2021 6:00 am

London must become a world leader on climate change action

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

It’s London Climate Action week and a chance to celebrate the work being done to tackle climate change in our capital city.

It’s an opportunity to highlight and bring to the forefront the challenges we are facing and need to address to make a real difference.

Climate change is a major global issue affecting everyone on the planet.

Scientific evidence tells us that the climate is already changing and that we need radical action if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, thereby avoiding its more extreme effects.

Here in the City we are tackling it through our radical Climate Action Strategy which will make the Square Mile an international leader in the fight against carbon emissions.

This work will make the City net zero carbon-emissions by 2040, 10 years earlier than government goals.

As the governing body of the Square Mile and the area’s planning authority, we are still seeing strong developer confidence, despite the pandemic.

Firms have told us that they remain committed to the City, and we are strengthening our planning regulations to make sure new developments include carbon reduction proposals in their designs and encourage sustainable buildings with low carbon materials, green roofs and walls.

Our partnerships with City firms will boost the Square Mile’s global position, driving growth and creating green jobs.

One new example is our climate readiness programme, which gives free support to Square Mile SMEs – who account for 99 per cent of the 24,000 City businesses – through the Heart of the City charity.

And we will support workers and businesses in other dynamic ways, such as creating more street space for walking and cycling and other sustainable travel, widening pavements, creating new parks, and bringing in timed street closures and flood-resistant road surfaces.

As part of the plans, here at the City Corporation we have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions in our own operations by 2027 and 2040 across our investments and supply chain.

Climate change is not a new challenge, and we have already taken action to reduce our carbon footprint.

We already protect 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England, we purchase only renewable electricity and we’ve banned new diesel vehicles from our own fleet where there is a clean market alternative.

We’re leading a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling, and in 2019, we established the Green Finance Institute, the principal forum for public and private sector collaboration in green finance, alongside HM government.

But this is a challenge that the capital must tackle together.

We do not need to compromise the economy to fix the environment – our climate action plans will drive both growth and jobs.

London must build back better from the pandemic and taking a leadership role on climate change is vital in order to address the issues that we face across the globe.

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