How we respond to the climate emergency is the greatest issue of our generation, and one that we, rightly, will be held accountable for.
COP26: A Time For Action, Not Words.
Each and everyone of us has a responsibility to act and no one is exempt. Here in the West End, you, our members and partners represent key sectors & communities which all have a critical role to play in the transition to a sustainable future, and as a world-renowned International Centre, we have a responsibility to lead the way.
COP26 – Global Action
Today marks the start of COP26, which seems a fittng time to update you on our efforts to work towards a sustainable West End. While we work collectively on achieving our own district goals, I am conscious that we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. We all have a role to play in helping achieve the global goals outlined by COP26, inlcuding working together to secure global net zero emissions by mid-century. The roles of major global cities such as London are integral to achieving what the UN have outlined and we can only do this by working together. I truly hope that COP26 will be decisive and will inspire us all to act now and rise to these challenges. As COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma said; Paris promised, Glasgow must deliver.
Delivering in London's West End
Here in the West End, you may be aware of our ongoing work with consultancy firm Bioregional to develop our ambitious sustainability strategy for the West End’s International Centre. I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed to this work and have made it a truly is a collaborative approach.
80% of our members agreed that it was important for New West End Company to take action on key issues including air quality, carbon reduction, waste, health & wellbeing and sustinable products and services. To enable this, we will be publishing clear, ambitious public policy statements on all aspects of sustainability and establish an online Member Hub for action-led resources and to facilitate sharing leading practice. Our Board and Sustainability Steering Group fully support our approach, and later this month, we will be sharing our initial ambitions and District KPIs with you all. This will help us reach our vision for London’s West End to become the leading global destination for sustainable retail, leisure and the built environment.
As well as working alongside our West End business members, we will also ensure that our strategy aligns and supports those of the UK Government through The Climate Change Committee, The Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council’s Climate Action Plan to ensure that as a city, we all work together to take action against climate change.
A better future by working together
I am optimistic for our future, and know that each and every one of us will do what it takes to address the climate emergency. We are already seeing progress both globally and here in the UK; around 70% of the world’s economy now committed to reaching net zero emissions, up from 30% when the UK took over the COP Presidency. We have grown our economy by 78% while cutting emissions by 44%. In 2012, 40% of our electricity came from coal. That figure is now less than 2%. All of this shows that we, as a city and as a country are capable of change and by working together, we will make positive steps toward a better and greener future.
While there is a way to go, every now and again we need to take a step back and celebrate how far we have come. I was awestruck with the ingenuity and global call to arms with solutions and innovations that were presented at The Royal Foundation’s inaugural Earthshot Awards last month. Watch below to remind yourself of the remarkable work already being done around the world to combat the climate emergency, and remember, that this is just the beginning.
Over the next fortnight, we will be turning our New West End Company communications and channels green, in the hope that COP26 brings the decisive action that our planet needs, and gives us the platform to take forward our West End Action Plan, together, as a district.