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Covid shifts outlooks and assists delivery of Green Cities

The transition to a zero carbon future has reached the delivery phase, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Green Cities briefing, which took place online yesterday on the REALX.Global platform.

“The degree of client interest in promoting environmental sustainability has been undimmed by Covid-19 and it has been revolutionary,” said Rob Martin, director of research for real assets, Legal & General Investment Management. “In phase 1 we set our targets, now we are in phase 2 and we’re delivering them.”

In fact, the pandemic can in some ways facilitate the transition to sustainable living because it has focused minds on the importance of a healthy environment.

“I see opportunities from Covid-19 because of the change in the way people live their lives and work more from home,” said Jenny Laing, co-leader, Aberdeen County Council. “There was a wall of protest at low emission zones, but now the outlook has changed and there’s a better chance to bring the community onside.”

The only way to create green cities and promote a zero carbon future is by cooperation between different stakeholders: the private and the public sector, local councils and central government, other authorities and local communities.

Scottish Cities Alliance leads way to sustainable future

Scotland has led the way with the Scottish Cities Alliance, which has brought together the seven main cities and the Holyrood Government in order to promote the transition to a sustainable future by engaging with the local population and bringing businesses on board.

“The national partnership between central Government and local authorities is a unique way of delivering what we all want to see,” said John Alexander, chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance and leader, Dundee City Council. “We have seen a real sea-change in the last couple of years and now we’re moving to the delivery phase.”

Each authority pushes forward its own projects at local level, but there is a shared vision and cooperation on all issues, in order to share best practice and minimise risks.

“Working with cities is key because they have a unique role in bringing people together, nudging local communities, promoting awareness, coordinating interventions and funding projects,” said Martin.

A relatively new but significant development is that investors are now taking a more proactive stance and trying to make a difference. “Impact investing has become increasingly important and investment decisions are driven by zero carbon issues,” he said. “We’ve moved to a more intentional stage, where capital is being deployed to actively promote certain outcomes.”