Camden leader at COP26: 'Creative' investment needed to tackle 'community suffering'

Cllr Georgia Gould says eco investment must "change people's lives"

Cllr Georgia Gould says eco investment must "change people's lives" - Credit: PA

The hardest hit communities must be involved in tackling the climate emergency to “move away from fear to hope”, the leader of Camden Council says. 

Cllr Georgia Gould, speaking at COP26 as head of London Councils, said: “We see our communities already suffering from the impact of flooding we saw in London this year, the toxic air that is stunting children’s lungs, many people are dying early as a result, people living in terrible housing conditions, with damp and high fuel bills – that’s only going to get worse.”

The local authority head was speaking alongside other political leaders at the launch of the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission’s research into financing the UK Core Cities and London borough’s net zero targets. They estimate that approximately £200 billion is needed to reach net-zero – but this is out of reach of the public sector alone. 

Cllr Gould said the council is “trying to push through retrofit, and we’re building segregated cycle lanes, but we are reaching the end of our capacity with the funding pot we have. 

“So if we really want to achieve our ambitions and we owe it to our residents and our young people to do that, then we need to work in a different way,” she said. 

“This work has shown us the scale of the challenge and it is huge and these are big amounts of money that we need, but we know what that is now.” 

Cllr Gould continued: “The opportunity is to say to government some of it will need  public sector funding to back us in the long term, but also we are a serious partner to the private sector and we can work together on new financial mechanisms so we can prepare to be creative about how we create a return on some of these investments.” 

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It is estimated that it would cost £25,000 to retrofit one home and 29 million homes could need the work. The town hall leader added: “The climate crisis, if you are struggling to feed your children, can feel really far away.  

“So it’s critical that we start our investment in a way that changes people’s lives.”