Climate resilience in the City

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Climate resilience in the City
Credit Unsplash

Here in the Square Mile, we know a thing or two about longevity.

The area we know and love as the City of London dates back to the Roman settlement of Londinium – the birthplace of the capital.

And the City of London Corporation is thought to be the oldest continuously elected democracy in the world, predating Parliament.

The City has seen off many challenges over the centuries. But we are not immune to the existential threat caused by climate change.

The UK’s increasingly hot summers and more frequent extreme weather serve as an undeniable reminder that our climate is changing.

Like towns and cities across the country, the Square Mile is under increasing threat of flooding, overheating, drought, and loss of biodiversity. Changing seasonal patterns can even influence the spread of new pests and diseases.

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Without action, climate change and extreme weather events could disrupt UK trade and food production and put our critical infrastructure at risk.

To protect the Square Mile for future generations, the City Corporation is investing £68 million in our Climate Action Strategy. It commits us not only to reaching net zero in our own emissions by 2027 and in our supply chain by 2040, but also to supporting the whole Square Mile to reach net zero by the same year.

As well as using 100% renewable electricity, we have been improving energy efficiency across our public buildings – such as Guildhall and the Barbican Centre – to reduce our energy consumption and make these spaces more enjoyable for our visitors.

And across our residential estates, new projects will reduce our environmental impact and make our residents’ homes more comfortable and cheaper to heat.

New planning guidance, the first of its kind, will ensure developers in the Square Mile consider different options, including retention of existing buildings, to minimise the carbon impacts of their schemes.

Meanwhile, our Historic Buildings Challenge is providing practical guidance to tackle the difficult task of decarbonising the City’s over 600 listed buildings, which are such a unique part of our history and heritage.

Another key pillar of our Climate Action Strategy is environmental resilience. In simple terms, this means preparing and adapting our buildings, public spaces, and infrastructure for a changing climate.

Through our Cool Streets and Greening Programme, we are investing £6.8 million to improve the resilience of our streets, parks, and open spaces to the impacts of climate change.

On Bevis Marks, near the oldest Synagogue in Britain, we have installed new planter beds which act as a ‘rain garden’ to soak up excess water.

And as we experience more extreme rainfall, projects like this will help reduce the risk of flooding and the devastating impact it can have on communities.

We have been increasing greening right across the City using climate resilient plant species, with the aim of planting 100 new trees within the next year. This will provide more shade and vital wildlife habitats to boost the City’s biodiversity.

The scale of the climate challenge is daunting. But I know that with the collaboration of everyone in the City, this ancient part of London will endure for many centuries to come.

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