Crown Estate commits to net zero by 2030

One of London’s most significant property owners announces plans to reach zero emissions by 2030.

Christmas lights in Regent Street.

Making one of London’s busier shopping streets carbon neutral is likely to come with significant challenges (Photo: Andrew Stawarz via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Annette McGill

The Crown Estate, which manages large areas of prime real estate in Central London, has committed to become a net zero business by 2030 and to be climate positive thereafter.  

The Estate manages all of Regent Street and much of St. James', as well as Windsor Great Park and property across the UK, and parts of the seabed. It manages these holdings on behalf of the Queen, and pays all its profits to the Treasury. Its turnover in 2020 was £13bn.  

The Crown Estate says it will rapidly decarbonise its portfolio by

  • reducing carbon embodied in development, 
  • improving the energy performance of existing assets;
  • procuring of 100% renewable energy across its portfolio;

The Crown Estate says it will address the crises in our climate and ecological environment in a joined-up way, including by identifying opportunities for carbon sequestration and developing new ways to restore nature by encouraging biodiversity in marine, rural and urban environments.

COVID-19 demonstrates need to address major challenges

Chief Executive Dan Labbad says the coronavirus pandemic highlights the need for organisations to address systemic challenges.

Labbad 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.”

Labbad acknowledged that its new target poses significant challenges. He said: “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.”

The Crown Estate has also signed up to the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment and the Better Building Partnership Climate Change Commitment.

£2.9bn for the Treasury

In the last financial year, the Estate had a turnover of more than £13bn, and in the last ten years,  it has generated £2.9bn of income for Treasury.

The Estate holdings date back to the Norman conquest, and its income has been going to the Treasury for nearly 300 years. In 1760 King George III reached an agreement with the Government under which Crown Lands would be managed on behalf of the Government, and the surplus revenue would go to the nation’s coffers.

The Estate was established  as an independent commercial business  in 1961. It manages 10 million square feet of office, retail, and residential space in London’s West End, as well as Windsor Great Park and a wide variety of rural holdings. It also manages  the seabed, and half the foreshore, around England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has significant offshore energy investments.