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The Next Economy
London Driving UK Forward Towards Low-Carbon, Circular Future

While the future environmental regulation in the UK remains in the balance following the implementation of Article 50, London continues to push forward towards a sustainable future.

A new Urban Mobility Index report by the Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in London has ranked the English capital as a likely candidate to become the world’s first zero-emission city thanks to its efforts to decarbonize its transport sector, which include a new partnership with Ford’s Transit Custom plug-in hybrid van pilot program to launch in the fall of 2017, as well as ultra-low emissions zones and fleet of hybrid and zero-emission buses.

The report examines how cities around the globe are approaching the transition to a low-carbon future through the lens of sustainable urban mobility and the progress some key cities are making towards achieving zero emissions transportation solutions. Cities were ranked according to 20 factors, including air pollution, carbon emissions, congestion and public investment in low-emission transport.

Of the 35 cities included in the report, eight of the top 10 spots are occupied by European cities. Oslo weighed in at number one thanks to its “firm commitment to the zero emissions agenda,” more specifically its plans to ban all cars from its city center by 2019, attractive incentives, access to EV infrastructure and low-emissions zones.

London’s ranking may come as a surprise to some after the city surpassed air pollution levels within just days of the new year, but Qualcomm, the telecommunications equipment company behind the report, says that its commitment to a low-emission future is evident throughout the city. Examples include its comprehensive bike-sharing scheme, low emissions zones and innovation projects designed to bring electric, hybrid and driverless cars into the mainstream, with the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2025.

London is one of three cities across the UK to participate in the Go-Ultra-Low plan, in which it promises to invest £600 million by 2020 towards ultra-low emission vehicle uptake. An additional £13 million will be invested into Neighborhoods of the Future, which prioritizes ultra-low emission vehicles in several London boroughs.

“Investing heavily in cutting-edge technology, London is poised to become an environmental example for other cities in years to come. However, it must ensure forward-facing policies are coupled with addressing current congestion, particularly strain on public transportation infrastructure to keep the city moving,” the report says.

Meanwhile, the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has officially launched its Advance London, a business support program designed to help SMEs adopt and scale up circular business models, while simultaneously tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the capital city.

The three-year scheme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and LWARB and aims to put London on the right path towards achieving a 65 percent recycling rate by 2030 and becoming a zero-carbon city by 2050, goals outlined by the Mayor of London.

“London is home to some impressive circular economy leaders. The nature of the circular economy requires collaboration throughout the supply chain and changes the way businesses interact with consumers — Advance London aims to help SMEs in the capital do exactly that,” said Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, board member and circular economy lead at LWARB.

“As more and more businesses ‘go circular’ new opportunities will merge for SMEs to be innovative in the way that they tackle market challenges and this program will help a number of businesses through the transition. We believe London can be a real-world leader in nurturing circular economy businesses and become a genuinely resource-efficient global city.”

Advance London will provide direct support to small businesses and entrepreneurs through events, workshops and one-on-one support to identify emerging opportunities, overcome obstacles and to develop demonstrations of the value and benefits that can be unlocked through a circular economy.


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