Landsec CEO Mark Allan: London may become unliveable if net zero is ignored
A ‘worst-case scenario’ could mean racial tensions, heatwaves, mass unemployment and empty high streets
Major cities across Britain may be unliveable in just 10 years unless policymakers accelerate net zero reforms, the boss of British property giant Landsec warned today.
In a new report the company foresees a worst-cast scenario of a “dystopian future” in which heatwaves and overpopulation lead to a fresh exodus to the countryside causing urban economies to crumble.
Allan warned that major cities like London may have "as little as 10 years to save themselves", and urged governments to consider a raft of major planning reforms to avoid a crisis.
“The success of many of our cities hangs in the balance,” he said. “Profound change is needed.”
Net Zero impact
According to a new Landsec report, which Allan shared with Net Zero Investor, a "worst-case scenario” facing London and other major cities includes racial tensions boiling over as heatwaves and global conflict spark fresh waves of migration and green spaces vanishing and many areas under threat from rising sea levels.
Also, a spike in mass unemployment caused by increased automation in the workplace and tech giants controlling our access to vital services.
Furthermore, it warns high streets will be abandoned with shops and restaurants boarded-up as city-dwellers leave for the country.
Those left behind may end up spending their days trapped indoors without access to jobs or essential services, according to Allan.
Therefore, he is calling for wholesale planning reforms to accelerate sustainable development, and an overhaul of the current business rates system to incentivise the creation of new jobs.
He argued that greater policing of digital technologies is required to stop tech giants playing Big Brother in the future.
“Citizens are expected to give up their data in exchange for living in the city," the report said.
“Those who cannot afford devices have been left behind and are not able to access many services, including healthcare, later life care and childcare," it noted.
He explained this scenario is one of four climate change outcomes – from worst to best – imagined by Allan and his team in their report, which was carried out in collaboration with The Future Laboratory strategic consultancy.
Climate change scenarios
Other futures include so-called ‘adapting and evolving’, which means cities will evolve by retrofitting their existing infrastructure and responding to new technology, and social resilience will be as important as physical resilience.
Then there is the ‘collective and vitalising’ scenario, one where the city is focused on safety, equitability and health.
"It is a city that is emotionally intelligent and empathetic to the needs of all urban dwellers, not just the most productive – making it desirable for all," the report stated.
Finally, ‘green and flourishing’ is another scenario, the ‘best case scenario’, a stark contrast to the first scenario.
It is a city which acknowledges that in order for people to flourish, the environment around them must be protected to flourish as well.
Allan said: “We are at a crossroads when it comes to the future of our cities.”
“For the good of our nation’s competitiveness and the opportunities it will provide our communities, we need to focus on the future of our cities today.”
“Put simply, we need to act now – starting with urgently needed policy reform – to achieve a more prosperous and positive future for all, he added.
“To deliver more jobs, more homes and more growth, we must bring people, business and cities together,” Allan concluded.