The Century of Cities and the Climate Emergency
We live in extraordinary times. The Century of Cities, The Climate Emergency, the Digital Age, AI & The Internet of Things, and the new surge in pandemics, disasters, and shocks. Each has the potential to accelerate disaster or to trigger reforms.
As we enter the 5th decade of the century of cities, COVID19 arrived as a human tragedy, an economic shock, and a catalyst to revise how we work, consume, travel, live, and belong. As we look forwards to 2080 when perhaps 10 billion people will live in 10,000 cities, we must take the opportunity to find new paths that align our planetary imperatives with our human instinct for a just and healthy world.
COVID forces cities to focus on what they alone are good at and can't easily be done elsewhere or online. This means a deeper focus on cities that support habitat, innovation, rich experiences and compelling places, rather than depending narrowly upon commuters, corporates, and consumption.
The NetZero City will be a healthier, more affordable, innovative, job rich, and fairer city, IF we can sequence together the decarbonisation path with remodelling and reinvesting. We now need proactive transformation to achieve better connected, more compact, and cleaner cities, underpinned by electrification, circularity, reformed and mixed land uses, green innovation, revised consumer choices, citizen empowerment, and fairness. This will ensure positive outcomes for people through healthier and more affordable homes, lower fuels bills, improved nutrition, wider transport options, and a long cycle of new green job creation.
Prof Greg Clark CBE FAcSS is Group Advisor at HSBC, Chair of the Connected Places Catapult and a Board member of Transport For London and the London LEP. He is a Civic Leader, writer, Non-Executive Director and Board Chair, working with Investors, Businesses, Governments, and Cities to help navigate this compelling century, inspire new collaborations, and forge new futures
Greg Clark is a Board Member of Transport for London and Chairman of its Programme & Investment Committee, and a member of its Finance and Crossrail Committees.
He is also a Member of London’s Economic Development Board (LEAP) where he leads on city economic strategy.
Involving the UK’s 12 largest cities, The UK Cities Climate Investment Commission (UK CCIC), a partnership between Connected Places Catapult, Core Cities and London Councils.
UK CCIC adopts a novel approach to addressing the challenge of financing Net Zero in major cities across the UK. Through new research delivered by the UKCCIC, we estimate that approximately £200 - £300 billion must be invested to achieve Net Zero across London and UK Core Cities. This is beyond the financing capacity of the public sector alone. UK CCIC brings together the investment sector with cities to accelerate the opportunities for private finance to play a leading role in accelerating Net Zero infrastructure investment across commercial real-estate, housing, transport, renewable electricity generation, waste management and other green infrastructure
Connected Places Catapult is the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership.
CPC provides impartial ‘innovation as a service’ for public bodies, businesses, and infrastructure providers to catalyse step-change improvements in the way people live, work and travel. CPC connects businesses and public sector leaders to cutting-edge research to spark innovation and grow new markets. CPC runs technology demonstrators and SME accelerators to scale new solutions that drive growth, spread prosperity, and eliminate carbon.
Greg Clark is an Honorary Professor at UCL STEaPP, a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and until recently, a global fellow at Brookings Institution.
He also chairs international Advisory Boards for Cities that are reformulating their strategies, positioning, and assets.
Greg is the author or 10 books and 100+ reports about cities, investment, innovation and leadership. Visit Greg Clark's author page here.
Recent publications include Global Cities: A short history and The Innovation Economy: Implications and Imperatives for States and Regions.
A complete list of all previous publications is on The Business of Cities website here.