Accounting for 70% of global emissions, cities are at the heart of our response to climate change. Many city governments have committed to net zero targets, but only the successful implementation of city level climate action strategies and their supporting delivery plans will ensure transformative change to build greater social, economic and environmental resilience.

The City of London Corporation governs the Square Mile. One of the world’s foremost financial and professional services districts, The City has committed to climate leadership and, with Arup’s help, have launched an ambitious climate action strategy to accelerate the transition to net zero.

To support the strategy, we partnered with the Carbon Trust to identify appropriate actions to enable a low carbon future within the Square Mile. Undertaking detailed greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments, we analysed emissions from the City Corporation as well as those outside its direct control.

Launched in 2020, we were appointed to support 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 become action. Working with the Carbon Trust, we established the best assessment and reporting methodology for the City of London Corporation as an organisation and the Square Mile as a geographic entity. For the first time, we included Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in our calculations.

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 little or no control, such as decarbonising UK grid emissions.

We highlighted the emissions reduction potential for three different levels of climate ambition. Each scenario generated its own emissions pathway, including a range of actions for Corporation 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 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 to be both realistic and ambitious drew on Arup’s extensive experience in the built environment shaping financial stacks for climate action plans in other major cities.

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

Making a low carbon approach business as usual

Our analysis and emission reduction pathways have given the City Corporation a strong evidence base for ambitious climate action. This has helped integrate and embed 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.

Embedding an ability to 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 implement recommendations in the Square Mile to establish a testbed for ideas and accelerate the journey towards net zero and enhanced climate resilience. 

We are engaging with financial and investor organisations to devise simple, agile and robust ways to attract private investment to SMEs and scalable projects focussed on realising net zero.  

We are identifying investment streams and criteria to deliver and fund place-based decarbonisation projects including retrofitting and refurbishing existing buildings.

Our strong partnership with the City Corporation allows us to work to enable change, strengthening the ability to build on previous work and plan activities better for the future.