Sustainable Cities

It is widely accepted that we all need to heave together if we are to truly tackle climate change. This means not just individual people, but governments, businesses, civil society, and finance too. There is no entity, however large or small, that cannot step up to somehow make a positive difference. One of the key contributors to the effort is cities.

By 2050, the United Nations predicts nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, and is expected to continue rising. This means cities are critical areas for action to achieve globally agreed goals on climate change, biodiversity, and human health.

Environmental charity CDP Global has just published its 2022 Cities A-List, which recognizes cities which have received the highest score for transparency, action, commitment in the fight against climate change.

The list names a record 120 cities, towns, and regions as leaders in the face of the climate crisis and worthy of an A-grade. These include a strong increase in cities from the Global South and Middle East and promisingly, big polluter India has a city (Mumbai) on the list for the first time ever. This really illustrates the worldwide effort going needed to tackle the diverse circumstances cities face in different parts of the world.

CDP’s global director of states, cities, and regions, Maia Kutner, said:

“The world, and its cities, need to go much further and faster in stepping up that action. Reporting environmental data is the first, crucial step to acting, as what gets measured, gets managed. This year’s A List shows the growing momentum in cities reporting their data and we hope that many more will join them in protecting our planet for future generations.”

This move towards increasing disclosure of data is happening in the finance industry too. Our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is working hard to improve the clarity and evidence supporting sustainable investment solutions. Over the next year or two, we will see measures being introduced that will really help distinguish the A-List investment solutions from the greenwashers.

But back to the cities, here in the UK there are 19 places achieving an ‘A’ grade, up from 11 last year. Northern Ireland has been represented on the A-List for the first time, with Belfast. The other new joiners are city authorities in Dundee, Enfield, Essex, Leeds, Richmond, Swale, Wandsworth, West Midlands, and York.

Some of the initiatives adopted by the new A Listers really caught my eye. Mumbai has opened a super-energy-efficient street as a testbed and has set out to vastly improve its waste management, moving away from the current practice of dumping and burning. Belfast has a focus on supporting youth wellbeing, reflecting the social aspects of climate change, as well as the environmental. The Kadikoy municipality of Istanbul is working on water management, floating the idea of becoming a ‘sponge city’ by implementing resilient water harvesting systems.

Our own Bristol has sadly dropped off the A-List this time around, despite being widely regarded as a climate leader. I am not party to the reason why, but perhaps because the city is busy getting on with its well-established climate plan, rather than bringing in new initiatives.

In 2004, Bristol became the first UK city to develop a climate strategy and in 2015 was crowned European Green Capital. Three years later, it became the first UK city to declare a climate emergency, setting an ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. Bristol’s strategy sets out the action required in 10 key areas: transport, buildings, heat decarbonization, electricity, consumption and waste, business and the economy, public services, natural environment, food, and infrastructure interdependencies.

This wide variety of areas to tackle reminds me of the range of investment themes we align with. Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, we can recommend portfolios which favour investment in businesses aligned with and providing solutions that benefit all of these areas. They also lend money to organisations, including governments, local authorities and social housing providers that are improving environmental and social conditions in our cities. Indeed, Goal 11 of the 17 SDGs is “Sustainable Cities and Communities”.

Whether you live in, work in or just occasionally visit a City, it’s worth considering its efforts to be sustainable, as well as the museums, shops and eateries. To find out more about how Somerset Wealth supports sustainable investment choices for our clients,, contact me here:


*Please note that capital is at risk and investments are designed for the long term.


Revealed: Which cities are the new climate ‘A-Listers’? – Edie

Cities scores – CDP

Bristol and Indianapolis – a tale of two cities tackling climate change and social inequality – CDP

Photo by Martyna Bober on Unsplash

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