Monday 12 October 2020 9:06 am

We do not need to compromise the economy to fix the environment

Overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that the climate is already changing.

If we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid the more extreme effects on our environment, averting potentially devastating consequences, we need to act now. 

And that is what the City of London Corporation is doing.

Last week, it launched its commitment to fighting back, unveiling a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the whole Square Mile by 2040 – 10 years earlier than the national goal. No other major global financial centre goes this far.

We have agreed on a radical and ambitious Climate Action Strategy which will tackle climate change, build the climate resilience of the Square Mile, and support the achievement of net zero carbon emissions right across the City.

This plan will make the Square Mile a global leader in this fight.

Founded on science-based targets, our Climate Action Strategy sets out goals for the next two decades with an action plan which will create 800 green jobs. 

How will we do this? For a start, we will update City planning regulations to ensure that new developments include carbon reduction plans in their designs and encourage more sustainable buildings, including green roofs and walls.

Second, we will develop a new Climate Action Fund, so the City Corporation and other large businesses in the Square Mile can combine financial resources and skills to co-invest in low or zero-carbon technologies that will lead to decreasing carbon emissions across the City.

More street space will be dedicated to walking and cycling in the City too, with wider pavements, new parks, timed street closures and flood-resistant road surfaces installed.

And we will invest £2m in carbon removal by introducing historic sustainable land management practices in our open spaces — not just in the Square Mile, but in wider London.

With the economic in such an uncertain state due to the pandemic, some have argued that environmental initiatives should take a back seat until we have recovered. But we do not need to compromise the economy to fix the environment: this project will drive growth and jobs.

I am confident this plan will ensure that the City will build back from the Covid-19 pandemic to be greener, fairer, more resilient, and low-carbon. We have a credible, funded plan to deliver this, and we know it is achievable. 

As part of the strategy, the City Corporation itself has committed to achieving net zero by 2027 for our own operations and 2040 in our investments and across our supply chain. We will link our investments to the Paris Agreement goals and to ensure that fighting climate change is at the heart of all our decisions. We will improve energy efficiency in our own buildings and work with the whole Square Mile to speed up the transition to a net zero economy.

Climate change directly impacts everyone. We need to prepare for it — and we have to act now. This is about boosting our economy, protecting our natural and built environment and tackling climate change head-on.

Together we will build a greener City.

Main image credit: Getty

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