Evening Standard comment: London leads the way in fighting climate change

EVENING STANDARD COMMENT

The London Chamber of Commerce today calls for an urgent acceleration of measures to make this city a greener, more environmentally friendly place in which to live and work and eventually create a carbon-neutral capital. It’s a welcome contribution by the organisation, which represents a large number of London businesses. It includes proposals for the creation of thousands more charging points for electric cars and a greater emphasis on reusing, repurposing and recycling items, as well as the appointment in City Hall of a deputy mayor for climate adaptation.

These ideas seem sensible, but what is also important in the business group’s blueprint is its recognition of the vital role that industry and technological advances will have to play in winning the battle against climate change. Growth, development, and increased prosperity can be compatible with becoming greener if the right approach is used. That means business and government must work constructively together and it’s pleasing that today’s blueprint shows such intent.

Raising green issues now is timely as the country prepares to host the United Nations’ COP26 conference on climate change in Glasgow later this year. The event will see around 200 world leaders meet in an attempt to agree a long-term deal on tackling rising temperatures, and needs to galvanise our own government as well as others into doing more, and faster, to reduce emissions and waste.

Most important of all, however, is that momentum already created by the contributions of Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough, and the growing public recognition that fundamental environmental action is needed, endures beyond Glasgow. Conferences can be important, but as today’s business proposals indicate, it’s long term change that’s most needed.

Mentors mean so much

The young Arsenal star Reiss Nelson speaks powerfully today in an interview with this newspaper about how the positive influence of his older brother Ricky and sister Tessa helped to steer him away from involvement in gangs, drugs and crime at a time when many of his friends were being trapped by these malign lures. He says guidance from his siblings kept him from doing the “wrong stuff”, and laments the fact that others missed out on the nurturing that played such a vital role in his success.

He’s right to do so, because for all the discussion about police enforcement, sentencing and other solutions to the violent crime blighting this city, what is sometimes overlooked is the critical role that mentoring and good role models can play in stopping young people engaging in such activities in the first place. It’s a job that families and friends can perform and shouldn’t be left to charities and councils. But regardless of who performs the task, much more of it is needed and it’s good to hear 20-year-old Nelson make this point. The other lesson to be drawn from his achievements is the importance of hard work, aspiration and focus; qualities which have helped him capitalise on his talents.

Most young Londoners can’t become footballers, of course, but they can all make the most of their abilities, wherever they lie, by remembering the importance of these attributes. We salute Nelson for reminding us of this and the value of mentors and wish him well in his career.

A theatrical genius

Sir Tom Stoppard says his exciting new play Leopoldstadt, which has opened at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre, is inspired by the Holocaust and his own personal history as a Jewish refugee in the 1930s, and makes him cry. But as our four-star review today makes clear, there’s much to enjoy too in this latest masterwork by the 82-year-old theatrical genius. We hope many get to see it and share our delight at this wonderful playwright.