Climate Action

James Close on why we must align policy with investment and behaviour change to build back better

Ahead of the Climate Innovation Virtual Forum 2020 on Wednesday 1 July, we caught up with James Close, Head of the Circular London Programme at the London Waste and Recycling Board, to discuss why we must align policy with investment and behaviour change to build back better.

  • 30 June 2020
  • Rachel Cooper

Ahead of the Climate Innovation Virtual Forum 2020 on Wednesday 1 July, we caught up with James Close, Head of the Circular London Programme at the London Waste and Recycling Board, to discuss why we must align policy with investment and behaviour change to build back better.

Q. Why do you think the Green Recovery is essential as we look to BuildBackBetter?

Our current way of living is unsustainable – environmentally, socially and economically. We need a better way and developing policies that support a resilient green recovery, combined with behaviour change and a shift the way that finance flows can lead us to a better vision of the future. The circular economy can provide new, high quality jobs, reduce difficult to mitigate consumption-based emissions and build stronger communities. As many people now recognise, it’s a prerequisite of a low carbon equitable future. We know the policies that can accelerate the transition. We need the courage and collective will to implement them. 

Q. What industries/technologies/projects offer the best opportunities to create clean jobs whilst keeping us on a pathway to net-zero?

There are some amazing business models that support the transition to net-zero. Products as services, renewable inputs, resource recovrery, product life extension and sharing platforms all have scope to create new, high quality jobs whilst reducing waste and the impact on our environment. In cities like London, we have the combination of concentration and scale to accelerate their development. We need to ensure that the bold entrepreneurs leading these businesses are not deprived of capital and advice to help them to scale up rapidly and succeed.  

Q. Where should public and private sector investment shift towards to ensure we grow low-carbon industries and avoid future lock-ins?

First, let’s price externalities like carbon, waste and other forms of pollution properly so that we have a level playing field. There’s a premium on flexibility too. We can avoid lock in by valuing optionality and taking a portfolio based approach to financing and funding projects and start up businesses. We need to make investment “vision driven” as well as returns oriented so that we avoid what Mark Carney describes as the “tragedy of the horizons”. The policy signals through net zero commitments now exist. Aligning policy with investment and behaviour change can deliver the system change we need to make the world a better place for all.  


London Waste and Recycling Board are an Institutional Partner for the Climate Innovation Virtual Forum 2020 on Wednesday 1 July. Discover how the UK can use the net-zero emission target as a pathway for economic recovery post pandemic by registering for free today.