While much of the media noise surrounding COP26 has focussed on the struggle of state negotiations and lack of cohesive agreements, we were pleased to see this week in Glasgow that this does not represent the wider conversations and atmosphere in and around the conference.
Sustainable Action: Global & Local
Over two days, focussing on transport and the role of our global cities, we heard from representatives from across the world on innovations, action plans and strategies being implemented to tackle the climate crisis.
Not every country, city, borough or street is the same, however COP26 highlighted just how united we are in overcoming the climate crisis. As we as a district shape our own Sustainability Action Plan, we wanted to share our key takeaways from COP26 and from around the globe.
COP26: A Focus On Our Global Cities
Humanising the Climate Crisis
For many, the climate crisis is seen to be an issue for policymakers and political agendas, but for fundemental action, we need this to change. Focussing on the issue of air quality in cities, we heard from Tollulah Oni, PhD, Cambridge University who is working to increase public awareness of air pollution by using a bottom-up approach of data generation to implement climate mitigation measures with a focus on public health. As a city centre, London’s West End has a responsibility to all who visit and live here, and by focusing on individuals, we may just be able to increase awareness, engagement and action in tackling air pollution.
Data & measurement is key
At a panel of The Carbon Trust, The Welsh Government, The Metropolitan Institute of Planning, Guadalajara, City of London Corporation & C40 Cities, the big topic was that of data, measurement and evidence. The common denominator of all countries involved was that any plans and strategies to combat climate change should start with scientific evidence and data. Without this, and measurement of success and impact, we cannot hope to mitigate the effects of climate change or develop resilient cities.
Collaboration & transparency is a must
Whether it is data sharing, monitoring or even best practise, no country, city or region should be siloed. As a planet, we cannot tackle climate change unless we collaborate, share our expertise, remain transparent with progress and most importantly, support with resources and green financing. We heard inspiring examples of nations and cities championing climate action with very little resource or funding. One key examples is the AirQo project in Uganda, which is working toward closing the data gaps in air quality across Africa to benefit the entire continent. This truly puts into perspective what we, as a developed nation can do with our own resources to benefit the global fight against climate change.
We are all on the same journey
Through many of our discussions in Glasgow, it could not be clearer that, despite disparity in geography, development, GDP, populations and environment, we are all facing the same challenges. Here in London for example, we are working on becoming a zero emissions city and simultaneously across the globe, we heard from Quito, Ecuador on their proposals for their central zero emissions zone, while a bit closer to home, Amsterdam has committed to zero emissions across the whole city by 2030. It was sobering yet uplifting to know that from all corners of the world, action is being taken to ensure a better, and greener future.
To further explore London and other key C40 Cities, and find out more about initiatives and progress towards combatting climate change, visit Arup’s Virtual City Rooms here.
A sustainable West End
Bringing it back to a local level, here at New West End Company, we have been continuing our work toward being a more sustainable district, both in developing our upcoming Sustainability Action Plan, and also in our operations.
We are pleased to announce that our on-street cleaning team is now fully electric. The new electric fleet will be one of the largest operated by a BID in the UK, with a full range of vehicles from vans to e-trikes for waste and street cleansing.
This move to an all-electric vehicle fleet will transform the way we clean our streets and collect waste, in line with Westminster City Council’s carbon net-zero by 2040 plans. It will also help improve air quality and lower noise pollution as electric motors are significantly quieter.
Our Sustainability Steering Group has also been supporting the New West End Company team in our journey toward establishing our West End Sustainability Action Plan as we work toward creating a greener district. Our key direction as a BID is:
- To advocate and support our district and members on their journey to net zero.
- To seek a sustainable retail, leisure and dining experience for all the residents, employees and visitors.
- To work with partners to deliver improved air quality that meets or exceeds legal standards.
We are continuing our work to ensure that the West End Sustainability Action Plan aligns and supports strategies 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 to address climate change.