Just over fifth of £68m climate pledge spent by City of London, data shows

Image credit LDRS

The City of London Corporation has spent just over a fifth of its £68 million pledge to tackle climate change, halfway through the strategy’s six-year timeline.

A climate campaign group has called on the Corporation to ‘accelerate’ its work, describing the level of spend to-date as “a delay that neither the City of London nor the capital can afford”.

The City pointed to it being ranked as one of the top 20 best performing councils in the UK for its work combatting climate change, and said getting the right plans and people in-place is key early on.

It also provided a breakdown as to how the rest of the funding is to be spent over the remaining three years.

The City of London Corporation, which oversees the Square Mile, committed £68m in 2020 to be spent over six years to fund its Climate Action Strategy.

The funding would cover the period to 2026/27, and is key to the City meeting targets including net zero by 2027 in its own operations, and by 2040 across its full value chain.

The City has been recognised by organisations such as Climate Emergency UK, which ranked it in the top 20 best performing councils in the country, and purchases 100 per cent renewable energy.

It also manages 11,000 acres of green space, including sites such as Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest, which it says remove 16,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere a year, equivalent to 70 per cent of the emissions from its own operations. It adds it has cut its carbon emissions by 66 per cent since 2018.

The City has however come under criticism from certain quarters over its climate credentials. A recent point of controversy was its approval of the London Wall West scheme, which will see the former Museum of London building and Bastion House demolished and replaced with office blocks.

Among the concerns raised by objectors was the projected carbon emissions from the redevelopment. The City claims its plans will result in fewer emissions over the long-term than if the two buildings were retrofitted.

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In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request filed by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the Corporation has now revealed it has spent £14,412,620 of the £68m committed in 2020, halfway through the six-year timeline. This equates to roughly 21 per cent, or just over a fifth of the final sum.

The data does show how the funding has been ramped up each year accounted for so far, broken down into £2,310,396 in 2021/22, £4,386,080 in 2022/23, and £7,716,144 in 2023/24.

The largest project to have received funding so far is the £2,824,927 spent on ‘corporate property group buildings’, including sites such as the City’s housing estates and the Barbican Arts Centre, with its ‘cool streets and greening’ schemes next, having received £2,338,607.

For the remaining years, the City’s corporate buildings are again to receive the largest sum, £17,645,355, followed by its planned spend on ‘investment property group buildings’, at £12,365,118. This refers to properties the City leases, such as tenanted commercial and residential buildings.

In its response, the City noted the total budget for future years is only set for 2024/25, with the forecasts for the last two ‘highly estimated and subject to rescoping later on’.

‘A delay that neither the City of London nor the capital can afford’

Commenting on the data, Hirra Khan Adeogun, Co-Director of climate charity Possible, said: “It is encouraging to see the City of London commit to spend £68m between 2021/22 and 2026/27 to cut emissions and become greener – but we are talking about one of the most lucrative areas of the UK that has disproportionately contributed to the climate crisis.

“Every year that passes without the action and funding needed to combat the climate crisis costs us further down the line. To have spent just over 20 per cent of this budget halfway through the proposed strategy is a delay that neither the City of London nor the capital can afford.

“We must accelerate climate action. Despite the £68m commitment, the City of London has not yet declared a climate emergency and its net zero targets trail behind the Mayor of London’s by ten years. Rapid action and forward-thinking climate leadership is the only way to future-proof our place in the world, and ensure a planet that is fit for all.”

A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “The City of London Corporation has been ranked in the top 20 best performing councils in the UK for its work in combatting climate change.

“Our Climate Action Strategy commits us to achieving net zero carbon emissions in our own operations by 2027 and supports the achievement of net zero for the whole Square Mile by 2040.

“For such an ambitious programme, getting the right plans and people in place is key in the early stages. Conserving our older, historic buildings to ensure they are fit for the future takes great care and planning. This means making them as energy efficient as possible, reducing their carbon emissions and adapting them to changes to the climate.”

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