Earlier this month, the City saw the familiar banners and heard the recognisable chanting of Extinction Rebellion, who made their way across the Square Mile.
Protests like theirs have become commonplace globally. Whether you agree with their tactics or not, it is impossible to deny that their actions reflect a shift in the public mood. People are more concerned about climate change than ever before.
We know – thanks to a recent YouGov poll – that most Britons surveyed believe in the goals of Cop26.
The City of London Corporation and the Green Finance Institute hosted the Green Horizon Summit at Cop26, which brought together over 200 speakers. Here private finance tackled the big issues facing our sector in the transition to net zero.
The public had enthusiasm for the destination of Cop26, but was sceptical about the journey. Three-quarters of those surveyed say they do not trust world leaders to deliver on their promises.
City leaders and businesses must ask themselves an important question: how do we realise this hope, rail against the cynics, and deliver on our promises? This was especially obvious last week, on Earth Day, when the Bureau of Investigative Journalism ranked the world’s top financiers of fossil fuel projects and raised concerns over greenwashing.
We must show the world the City of London and the UK mean business when it comes to climate change. Cop26 and its priorities must not be a flash in the pan-European or global stage, never to be heard from again.
Building on this premise, we’re hosting the Net Zero Delivery Summit in the City on the 11th and 12th of May to build on the huge momentum we saw in Glasgow and ensure commitments turn into action.
The Summit will take place at the halfway point between Cop26 and the upcoming summit in Egypt. It will bring our financial and professional services together to secure London’s role as a strategic leader in sustainable finance.
We don’t want the summit to be a carbon copy of the forum of leaders in Glasgow. Bringing their innovative knowledge with them, our financial services will be joined by business leaders presenting their best ideas for tackling climate change. We will be taking into account the environment in which we’re operating: the conflict in Europe, rising geopolitical tensions across the world and increasing fuel and energy prices.
There are key challenges ahead. We must ensure finance is mobilised to support the net zero transition in emerging markets, to build climate resilience in developing countries and secure a just transition to net zero. I hope you can join the Summit, which will be live streamed.
As I near the end of my term, it is clear to me that leading the fight against climate change will continue to be a top priority for the City of London Corporation. We remain committed to delivering net zero through our Climate Action Strategy, which will help us achieve net zero carbon emissions from our own operations in the next five years.
In the clamour of dissenting voices, our message must be clear: what will help us tackle climate change is not fine words but urgent action.