Exploring The Crown Estate
In early December 2020, The Crown Estate announced its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The Crown Estate is the Sovereign’s “public lands” – land owned by the current Monarch, but managed by an independent board and operated as a business, with all profits returned to the Treasury. This ambition, if achieved, holds great significance, with The Crown Estate being one of the UK’s largest land owners, managing billions of pounds worth of property, nearly 2 million acres of agricultural land and forest, and around half the foreshore (the part of a shore between high- and low-water marks, or between the water and cultivated or developed land) around our coastlines. In its 2019/20 annual report, the business detailed over 313K tonnes CO2e emissions from across its portfolio.
The announcement outlined the following goals for The Crown Estate:
- To become a net zero business by 2030 and be climate positive thereafter, aligning with a 1.5°C climate scenario. This commitment includes all Scope 1-3 emissions associated with the operation of directly managed assets;
- Rapidly decarbonising its real estate portfolio across the country by reducing carbon embodied in development, improving energy performance of existing assets and procurement of 100% renewable energy across the portfolio;
- Championing a comprehensive approach to sustainable investment, including application of the TCFD (Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures) framework and an internal carbon price.
In addition to this, The Crown Estate has pledged to support the UK Government in meeting its own 2050 net-zero goal by facilitating the expansion of offshore wind provision within the seabed managed by the business.
Dan Labbad, The Crown Estate’s Chief Executive said:
“The impacts of Covid-19 and the wider volatility we face today only underline the importance of businesses like ours stepping up with purpose, pace and ambition to address systemic challenges facing our society and environment.
“This cannot wait and we make our commitment to net zero today, knowing that we don’t have all the answers. We understand there will be big challenges to solve along the way and to succeed we will need to rapidly innovate in areas like technology and digital, to think differently about how we optimise the green potential of the seabed, as well as find new solutions by collaborating with our many customers and partners who share our ambitions.
“We are committed to investing to support our goal and pushing ourselves to work as hard and as fast as we can towards it, adjusting accordingly if we need to, as we better understand the opportunities and challenges further in the years ahead”.
The business is already implementing a number of environmental improvement projects across its portfolio, in addition to offshore wind. These include “Wild West End” – encouraging birds, bees and bats back into the heart of London, bee friendly borders at Crowngate Shopping Centre in Worcester, a tranquil garden for honey bees on the rooftop of Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter, and the first biodiversity graffiti wall in the heart of Newcastle city centre at The Gate. They are working with the farmers managing their agricultural land to focus on reducing soil degradation and have recently switched to a Biomass Heating System on The Windsor Estate, powered by sustainably sourced timber from Windsor Great Park.
With such a significant reach across the country, meeting the 2030 net-zero target will not be easy, but by publicly stating its intent The Crown Estate has taken an important step in recognising and highlighting the gravity of the climate crisis.
References:  Combined Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions as detailed: https://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/3592/tce_pac_report_2019_20_interactive.pdf
Image credit: George Millson / Unsplash
Carbon Copy launched the UK Carbon Zero Explorer in November 2020 to help people to discover what’s happening in their local area. Councils, public sector organisations and businesses all around the UK are putting plans in place to reach carbon zero sooner – if there’s a story you think we should be telling please contact us.
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