10 Years of Results: Matthew Pencharz on transforming London into a greener, healthier and wealthier place to live

Editor’s Note: 2015 marks C40’s 10-year anniversary. To celebrate our 10 Years of Results, we are featuring the voices of C40 principals, partners and other thought leaders throughout the year.

Matthew Pencharz is the Deputy Mayor of London for Environment & Energy.

With the world urbanising at an astonishing pace, it is in cities where people are generally wealthier and healthier, with more social opportunities – which are of course the reasons why people are moving to them. And cities are also doing the most to meet the climate change challenge.

While London’s demographic growth is small compared to many in the developing world, we are currently growing at the fastest rate in our history – at over 100,000 new Londoners a year. Since C40 was founded a decade ago, our population has increased by well over a million, and our economy has grown by more than 25 per cent – yet our carbon emissions are down 16 per cent; we have shown – along with many other members of C40 – that there is absolutely no contradiction between economic and population growth and a reduction in carbon emissions.

We are delivering programmes to address emissions in all sectors and have a great deal of experience – both positive and negative – to share with our fellow cities. And that’s the beauty of C40; why should we reinvent the wheel over and over again? Yes, our cities are different, the governance structures are different, what might be deliverable is different - but we share many of the same problems; how to grow our economies, improve residents’ quality of life and reduce our environmental impact - and the solutions are often transferable.

C40 helped us to develop a number of our programmes, which are now delivering emissions reduction at scale. For example, C40 helped with our RE:FIT programme, which provides organisations with expert support to get retrofit projects in public buildings up, running and implemented with a framework of suppliers, to make procurement quicker and easier. RE:FIT has supported the retrofit of 470 buildings, mitigating 96,400tCO2. It has won numerous awards and the UK Government has been rolling out the concept across the country.

London’s government has relatively weak powers to mandate owners and tenants to install energy efficiency measures in commercial buildings. So we worked with C40, who helped us by comparing what has worked in other cities, and we developed the Mayor’s Business Energy Challenge. This is a call to action, recognition and competition for London’s corporates to reduce their energy intensity, allowing them to become more resource efficient, improve their bottom line, and help us to meet our carbon mitigation targets.

We are also leading the Low Emission Vehicle Network, to deliver more cleaner vehicles in our public transport fleets and provide the supporting infrastructure we need. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, these new vehicles also help significant improve air quality - however, the capital cost for cleaner technologies has remained stubbornly high.

In June we hosted a Clean Bus Summit at City Hall and stated that the 24 cities signed up to the C40 Clean Bus Declaration are a market for 40,000 new clean buses by 2020 – be they hybrid, electric, hydrogen or other low emission technologies. This helps to create certainty for the manufacturers, reducing their development risk and driving economies of scale to produce cleaner buses, at a price where the short payback on the investment becomes a no brainer for any city authority. Since the Summit we have already seen costs coming down for some of these buses by 10 per cent.

These are just a few examples of what C40 has delivered from a London perspective. C40 is showing the world leadership and practical results from our networks. Through the Compact of Mayors and our wider city diplomacy programme, we have forced the door ajar for cities at the Paris Climate Conference to enter the conversation - to show that addressing climate change doesn’t mean becoming uncompetitive and slowing the economy.

It’s been a great first decade. I have no doubt that the next one will see C40 continuing to prove to leaders, residents and businesses how we can create wealthier, healthier and more sustainable cities, and how we can capture the co-benefits of taking climate action – including improving air quality, having better green space to improve quality of life and the offer the city gives for residents, businesses, visitors and investors.

Happy 10th Birthday, C40 – see you all in Paris.