The one policy that could define Theresa May’s legacy as Prime Minister came after her departure date from Number 10 had been announced. In June 2019, the former Prime Minister amended the Climate Change Act to include a commitment for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050, making it the first member of the G7 to legislate for net zero emissions. With a Conservative majority returned in the 2019 UK General Election, and EU leaders ratifying a similar target, both the UK and Ireland need to be carbon neutral by 2050.
There is no question that this means change for towns and cities in the way they are designed and used. Transport, infrastructure, property and public realm could see radical change. The question is, can the town and city management industry rise to a tough challenge?
This industry, in fact, has its roots in environmental sustainability. Although town and city management emerged to support high street retail, its central ambition was to prevent the unnecessary and, too often, unchecked urban sprawl of out-of-town destinations that has complemented the growth in car use. This is an industry with a strong environmental credentials.
The ATCM Place Management Conference will assess both the policy and practice of making sure our urban areas can support a carbon neutral country. This event will not only look at the strategic and operational issues that will dictate whether we can achieve net zero emissions, but will also bring forward best practice in other areas including recycling and plastic alternatives.
The town and city management industry has one of the largest contributions to make when it comes to environmental sustainability. This will be the theme of the next Place Management Conference in London, March 2020.
The ambition is to deliver the Green High Street. We have 30 years and counting. The clock is ticking.