We call on Government to support a transformational programme of green growth, bringing £330 billion of investment to the UK

Nations around the world are providing unprecedented levels of support for their urban areas to create green growth and reduce carbon emissions. The US for example, is seeing the biggest investment in its history into innovation to unlock new solutions and create millions of jobs.

The UK Cities Climate Investment Commission aims to create the same possibility and opportunity for the UK by finding new routes to investment. Together London and the UK’s 11 Core Cities urban areas, including many towns, produce 50% of the UK economy, are home to 44% of the population and large numbers of businesses.

Because of this role as economic and population hubs, our cities also produce substantial carbon emissions (15% of the UK total just from their urban cores). But they are also centres of innovation, trade and expertise, the places that can achieve the biggest acceleration in lowering carbon, which is vital if the UK is to reach its Net Zero targets. Our combined scale can leverage new opportunities to mobilise finance and drive investment across our cities as well as surrounding towns, and the ability of our cities to shape, influence, and incentivise citizen choices on waste, energy, mobility and consumption is an important active ingredient in the decarbonisation process.

That is why we have come together as the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission (UK CCIC), a collaboration between Core Cities UK, London Councils, the Connected Places Catapult Centre, with additional support from the City of London, the Green Finance Institute and others, to bring together major investment propositions alongside financing mechanisms to help deliver to Net Zero across all our urban areas, securing jobs, inclusive growth and a just transition.

Together, we can drive a new, green industrial revolution which could help deliver Government’s Levelling Up agenda, benefitting many other cities and towns that are part of our urban areas an wider networks.

COP26, to be held in one of our member cities, Glasgow, in November this year is a critically important milestone on our shared journey. At this event we will set out the full investment challenge and opportunity for all our cities in achieving Net Zero. But COP26 will not be the end of our collaboration. Our intention is to work together, with Government and with cities globally for the long term, to seize this generational opportunity, secure the net zero investment that can transform our places and the UK economy as a whole.

At our launch event today, we are setting out initial findings, including the capital investment requirement of around £330billion across all our cities to deliver Net Zero. As we build this work out to cover city regions in Stage Two of our plans, readying them for release to the global investment community at COP26, this figure is likely to grow significantly.

This requirement represents an opportunity for each of our cities, but also for UK PLC. Working together with Government we can build major investment propositions to attract global capital into our cities generating jobs and growth at a critical economic moment. We therefore call on UK Government to work with us, to create a transformational step-change in UK Net Zero delivery, show global leadership in the approach to COP26, and to make our proposals a major plank of future economic growth strategy, including in this year’s Spending Review.

Our proposals will include decarbonisation of commercial and public sector property, transport, waste and housing, as well as increased renewable electricity generation. Each proposal will explore where and how investment might be sourced, including repayable public investment to kickstart programmes, but importantly, also looking to commercial investment models.

The green investment potential across UK cities is huge, and we believe the barriers to this lie not in the availability of finance, but rather the ability to create robust business cases and investment models that address issues of scale, longevity and confidence.

The UK CCIC aims to change this, creating clear business cases based on a collective offer from cities generating greater scale, volume, and predictability, therefore creating a more attractive and substantial proposition for investors.

First, we needed to understand the scale of the challenge and the opportunity. That is why we have published our interim findings today, analysing the low carbon investment that UK cities need. Second, we need to shape the opportunity, working with investors in the run up to COP26 and beyond. But third and most importantly, we must deliver, and have the means to do so.

If the local state is to be effective in reaching net zero, we must equip it properly. We are all setting out ambitious plans to address the climate emergency, but we also face a funding emergency, and require the tools and resources to achieve these ambitious plans. This should include the ability to align resources and services more closely at the level of place. Integrating decarbonisation across housing, transport, industry, property, employment and other areas at the local level is key to success.

We are now working on a second stage proposal looking at investment options in more detail, and will launch a report aimed at the investment community at COP26. There is also a clear role for UK Government to balance the opportunity for growth with an unparalleled economic and behavioural shift. For example, underwriting some of the costs of transition which individuals might otherwise unfairly bear like retrofitting homes and shifting from gas to electricity, as well as borrowing for investment by cities.

The road to Net Zero runs well beyond COP26, but we must not be complacent. If we do not act now, invest upfront and commit fully to this goal, delayed action will result not only in an increased financial cost, but an unthinkable human and environmental one.

At the same time, we believe that the net zero transition can position the UK to optimise its financial expertise, innovation capabilities, and leadership appetite to produce processes, platforms, and technologies that are exportable and tradable with the world, giving our netzero businesses a global edge and generating external income for UK PLC.

But the figures in this first stage report are already staggering: at least £330bn of investment potential, allowing us to decarbonise homes, properties, businesses, energy generation, waste systems and transport, creating jobs and growth to boot. This opportunity is a win-win for the UK, for our cities and all our citizens and we must grasp it with both hands.

Chair, Prof Greg Clark CBE, Connected Places Catapult Chair

Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader, Glasgow City Council

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

Keith Bottomley, Vice Chair, City of London Corporation Policy Committee


Get the latest news delivered to your inbox