Leading the way in the drive to net zero

Alison Gowman reflects on our charity’s strategy, commitments and grant-making during London Climate Action Week

Alison Gowman addressing an audience inside a giant tipi tent.
  • Published: 26 June 2023

This week is London Climate Action Week, which aims to harness the wealth of expertise in the capital across sectors from government, business, law and civil society to create practical solutions to climate change.

Bridge House Estates, the charity of which City Bridge Trust is the funding arm, has, along with our trustee, the City of London Corporation, adopted an ambitious Climate Action Strategy.

It commits us to achieving carbon net zero in our own operations by 2027 and across our investments and supply chain by 2040.

To this end, Bridge House Estates is spending £3.5 million over the next five years to improve energy efficiency in our premises, including the iconic Tower Bridge, and ensuring our investment portfolios reflect our net zero goals.

Our new investment strategy statement will embed our commitment to ensuring our financial, property and social investments align with UN Sustainable Development Goals to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Delivering our climate commitments

In addition, we have allocated a further £15 million towards delivering our climate commitments, with the ambition of reaching net zero across all our work ahead of that 2040 target.

This kind of significant investment is about putting Bridge House Estates, which has been around for over 900 years, on a sustainable footing – if not for the next 900 years, at least for the foreseeable future.

In climate action, as in many other areas, we aspire to be a responsible leader, delivering our activities in a sustainable way and sharing our knowledge and ideas with smaller charities.

We have also signed up to the Funder Commitment on Climate Change, in which funders commit to practical measures to play their part in tackling climate change.

Grants for environmental projects

Through City Bridge Trust, over the past five years we have awarded 72 grants totalling £6.6 million to charities across the capital for environmental projects.

These range from schemes such as city farms and community gardens which improve the local environment and biodiversity, to grants specifically aimed at helping charities deliver energy-saving measures such as insulation, heat pumps and solar panels.

On a slightly larger scale, last week, I had the privilege of visiting the newly built solar farm in Dorset which is providing half of the City Corporation’s electricity.

The arrangement is part of a pioneering deal in which the Square Mile’s governing body signed what’s known as a power purchase agreement, agreeing to buy all the energy produced by the facility for 15 years.

It’s this kind of innovative approach will see Bridge House Estates and its trustee at the forefront of the drive to net zero in the years to come.

Alderman Alison Gowman is an elected member of the City of London Corporation, member of the Bridge House Estates Board and board lead on the charity’s Climate Steering Group.