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Net Zero London: Business calls for urgent action
9 July 2020
Carbon is in fashion, but warm words and commitments to act tomorrow cannot deliver the low carbon London that we’re promised. Action is needed today, and the capital’s businesses stand ready to deliver. We need London to stay open and attractive – and to become truly green and resilient for decades to come.
Our city’s decarbonisation is a moral duty, as well as an exciting post-COVID opportunity that can emerge from an effective restart, securing real and progressive change. Like most transformational agendas, delivering a net zero London depends on genuine partnership and collaboration between business, communities and elected representatives.
The demand for a truly green recovery tops the list for COVID-induced change. We must grab the chance to support the urgent needs of climate change by reducing our reliance on carbon. As recoveries go, this is brand new – for London and cities globally – because we now have an extra decade of evidence confirming the undeniable effects of climate change and carbon-hungry growth on our environment, health and local air quality. In a political sense, a failure to act now is a conscious acceptance, from now to 2050, of much higher costs to Londoners, a degradation to our quality of life and health and increased social inequality. Knowing this, it would be a governance failure not to embed net zero at the heart of any new action by City Hall and London councils.
The next mayoral term will determine whether or not London can deliver on the decarbonisation agenda to avert the worst effects of climate change and keep the city attractive in a post-Covid word. To support City Hall, London First has convened an influential group of its members, including WSP, to propose clear actions that accelerate decarbonisation, address the urgent need to combat climate change while ensuring the city’s continued prosperity and liveability.
Before May’s elections, we will publish a Business Manifesto for the Decarbonisationof London, setting out commitments to change within the business community and calling for support through rapid policy and practical change on the ground. This will seek to inform and persuade mayoral candidates of the need to commit now and then act immediately to secure a net zero carbon future for the capital, urging them to make specific commitments to deliver over the next mayoral term.
Place – and the detail of London’s places – is a crucial detail. A whole-London net zero carbon solution will be unique and complex, involving all sectors of London’s business, government and its diverse communities. In the same way that London is formed of a myriad pattern of smaller places, each of which depends on many others, the best ‘bundle’ of strategic carbon-led solutions will need to be similarly integrated, specific and targeted.
Recognising the complexity of this task, we’re volunteering our collective problem-solving mindset, enthusiasm and delivery expertise to support City Hall and London’s councils as they respond to their climate emergencies with action. London’s ability to remain a beacon and benchmark for other cities depends on its ability to follow words with action. We stand ready to support today.
Rachel Skinner is an Executive Director at WSP, incoming President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Chair of London First’s Net Zero London Working Group.
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