During COP27, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, declared, “we are on a highway to climate hell with the foot on the accelerator”. These were stark but necessary words to encourage action from all corners of the world.
Climate change is a paramount issue that is starting to show its grave impacts. In the UK, this summer’s extreme heat was the highest on record, with Heathrow registering 40.2 degrees. 2022 also saw the UK’s driest year since 1970 as grass fires caused over 340 callouts to the London Fire Brigade in the first week of August, compared to 42 in the same period the previous year. As well as the heat, Londoners also experienced extreme flooding.
Now is the time for action.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set a target for London to be net zero carbon by 2030. This is no small task and cannot be achieved by one business or organisation. The key to success is collaboration.
This was highlighted in BusinessLDN’s expert panel discussion at our ‘London’s Progress to Net Zero following COP27’ event, where we discussed the capital’s progress to net zero and the role that businesses are playing in driving the climate agenda forward.
Joining our chair, Muniya Barua, were Shirley Rodrigues, GLA, Tor Burrows, Grosvenor, Anna E. Moore, McKinsey & Company, and Adarsh Varma, WSP.
Drawing from the Mayor’s Accelerated Green Pathway to achieving net zero, the panel discussed the challenges, implications and benefits of rapid decarbonisation action both at a city and a business level. Accountability and profitability can and should go hand in hand, and the only way to do this is for sustainability to be embedded into boardroom decisions.
The business community is responsible for supporting global efforts to reduce climate change, and many organisations are making great strides in their fields. However, we need to overcome some barriers, a critical one being the lack of stability and regulation at national government level.
The panel noted that sustainability could be a lever for the economy, driving growth and creating new jobs, a good example being retrofitting. Yet, this is a substantial challenge. Nationwide we have 19 million homes and seven years to reduce energy usage and the carbon footprint of our homes.
London’s housing stock is responsible for around a third of all carbon emissions in the capital, while around 80% of all homes expected to exist in 2050 have already been built.
That’s why London needs to build best practices and create a green market that can drive the decarbonisation of the supply chain and support the creation of green jobs across the UK. And this can only happen through the devolution of powers and the right incentives in place.
While there is always more to be done, today’s conversation felt like another step forward to a greener, more sustainable London. At BusinessLDN, we are really proud of the work we do around sustainability including driving collaboration between the private and public sector to synchronise and accelerate net zero activity. Through our work, we want to identify the right steps to support London businesses in delivering on their climate change-related commitments while helping London transition into an ultimately net zero city.
There is an ambitious target to meet, but arguably one that can be delivered if everyone works together.