Cities are at the heart of responding to climate change as they account for 70% of global emissions. Many city governments have committed to net zero targets, but it’s the successful implementation of a city level climate action strategy and supporting delivery plan that will ensure it can deliver transformative change, building greater social, economic and environmental resilience.
The City of London Corporation, which governs the Square Mile, one of the world’s foremost financial and professional services districts, has committed to demonstrating climate leadership and with Arup’s help embarked on producing an ambitious climate action strategy to accelerate the transition to net zero.
To support the development of the strategy, Arup led a partnership with the Carbon Trust, undertaking detailed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions assessments of the City Corporation as well as emissions outside of its direct control to help identify the appropriate actions that will support a low carbon future within the Square Mile.
After the strategy was launched in 2020, we were appointed to support the implementation of the climate action strategy by turning the recommendations into a robust programme of projects.
A new approach to setting climate targets
The Square Mile holds significant influence in demonstrating how commitments can turn into tangible action. Working with the Carbon Trust, we established the most appropriate assessment and reporting methodology for both the City of London Corporation as an organisation and the Square Mile as a geographic entity, which, for the first time, considered Scope 1 and 2 and Scope 3 emissions.
We helped develop, test, and agree on clear decarbonisation pathways by projecting baseline footprints over time, accounting for external drivers where the City Corporation has very little control, such as decarbonising UK grid emissions and internal changes.
We then highlighted where the most emissions reduction potential lies by modelling three scenarios to illustrate the results for three different levels of climate ambition. Each scenario generated its own emissions pathway, which included a range of actions for the City Corporation’s owned and operated property portfolios, ongoing and future capital projects and purchased goods and services, such as:
transforming the energy efficiency of operational buildings through the adoption of cutting-edge technologies
maximising the use of renewable energy sources across its operational buildings
aligning its financial investment portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change
Scoping the detail of these actions and ensuring they are realistic as well as ambitious drew on Arup’s extensive experience in the built environment and in shaping financial stacks for climate action plans for other major cities around the world.
There is a lack of globally-adopted and methodologically refined tools to support cities in reducing scope 3 emissions. It has been of huge value to work with a sustainable development consultant that has so much experience of working with cities at a systemic level. We now have a comprehensive view of where we are, what we need to do, how we measure progress and how we can engage and support all of the stakeholders that we need to collaborate with to take fast effective action. Arup has helped to put the City of London Corporation at the forefront of climate action planning. ” Stuart Wright Climate Action Programme Manager, City of London Corporation
When low carbon becomes business as usual
The emissions reduction analysis and pathways have provided the City Corporation with a robust evidence base for ambitious climate action which has helped with integrating and embedding a low carbon culture into the City Corporation’s financial accounting, decision-making, and governance processes.
Arup’s support with engaging and convening multiple stakeholders such as investors, land and business owners, residents, utility providers and local authorities will be critical in ensuring that the climate action strategy translates into real-world action, influencing its ability to reduce its own emissions, those in its supply chain, and the wider financial sector.
The Arup team, supported by the Carbon Trust, worked closely with us throughout the difficult strategy compilation process, providing technically robust advice, flexible and tailored analytical support and remained communicative throughout. They were a key part of the team that helped us launch the fully-funded Climate Action Strategy for the City of London. ” Stuart Wright Climate Action Programme Manager, City of London Corporation
Embedding the ability to respond and adapt
As part of our long-term partnership, we are helping the City Corporation with the next steps of its climate action strategy, including scoping a new fund to help implement the recommendations in the Square Mile, and establishing the area as a testbed for new ideas that will accelerate the journey towards reaching net zero and enhancing climate resilience.
We are engaging with financial and investor organisations to devise simple, agile and robust methodologies for attracting private investment to SMEs and scalable projects that are focussed on realising net zero.
We are also identifying different investment streams and the appropriate criteria to deliver and fund place-based decarbonisation projects including retrofitting and refurbishing existing buildings.
Having this strong partnership with the City Corporation has allowed us to work collaboratively to enable change, strengthening the ability to build on previous work and plan activities better for the future.
We can help
Arup’s sustainability leadership has resulted in similarly impactful partnerships with other UK cities such as Bristol and Sheffield and major cities globally including New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Toronto as they pursue sustainability and climate action plans.