On 25 November, London Mayor Boris Johnson published his draft 'London climate change adaptation strategy'. Under the Greater London Authority Act 2008, the Mayor has an obligation to produce such a strategy, detailing his assessment of the consequences of climate change for Greater London together with the Mayor's proposals and policies for adaptation to climate change. (To access the report click here)

KEY POINTS

The strategy highlighted the following:

  • Currently we are not very well adapted to our climate - the impacts of the heatwave of summer 2003 (in which 600 people died here and 15,000 in Paris) and the floods of summer 2007 highlight how vulnerable we are to extreme weather today.
  • As the climate changes, London will experience warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers, whilst 'extreme' weather events such as heat waves and tidal surges will become more frequent and intense.
  • Londoners will face an increased risk of floods, droughts and heatwaves that will endanger the prosperity of the city and the quality of life for all Londoners, but especially the most vulnerable in the city.
  • The strategy proposes 'greening' the city by improving and increasing London's greenspaces to keep the city cool in summer, managing flood risk coming from the tributaries to the Thames and surface water flooding from heavy rainfall, encouraging Londoners to use less water and raising public awareness to flood risk.
  • London is well placed to help the world adapt to climate change: it has the skills and services to prepare for the predicted changes, and there is a clear economic opportunity to capitalise on this leading position.

THE STRATEGY

At the launch of the strategy the Mayor of London outlined that: 'We need to concentrate efforts to slash carbon emissions and become more energy efficient in order to prevent dangerous climate change. But we also need to prepare for how our climate is expected to change in the future"

He continued, 'the strategy I am launching today outlines in detail the range of weather conditions facing London, which could both seriously threaten our quality of life - particularly that of the most vulnerable people - and endanger our pre-eminence as one of the world's leading cities.'

The strategy sets out the Mayor's proposed priorities and includes:

  • continued work with London boroughs so Londoners can access to "zero upfront cost" energy efficiency measures;
  • plans for cutting London's carbon emissions by 60% by 2025;
  • expansion of the Building Energy Efficiency Programme to all public sector buildings;
  • expansion of combined heat and power, with an aim to provide up to 25% of the city's energy needs through this energy production method;
  • adoption of energy efficient street and traffic lights along with electric council vehicles;
  • an 'urban greening programme' to cool the city using green spaces, street trees and urban design;
  • providing London-specific design guidance to enable architects to reduce the risk of new development overheating in future summers;
  • promoting and facilitating the retrofitting of London's homes to become more water efficient;
  • publishing a strategy on how London can achieve a more sustainable water supply/demand balance that is resilient to climate change; and
  • working with the Environment Agency to improve flood risk management on the tributaries to the Thames where properties are at significant risk of flooding.

RESPONSES TO THE STRATEGY

Robert Runcie, the Environment Agency's Thames Regional Director, said: 'London's world class city is currently protected from the increasing risk of tidal flooding by the iconic Thames Barrier, which will see us into the next century as the people and businesses of London move forward in adapting to meet the challenges of climate change…We welcome the Mayor's strategy and will be playing our part in helping deliver the solutions such as planning for London's future tidal flood defences.'

Some have criticised the strategy, however, for failure to include the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging zone, which stretches from Chelsea to Notting Hill. The extension is to be scrapped due to public pressure. In response, Transport for London have claimed that removing the congestion charge will only lead to a small increase in carbon emissions, which will be offset by ongoing investment in hybrid and hydrogen buses, low-carbon vehicles and reducing energy usage by the Underground.

The strategy will now be open to consultation with the Greater London Authority bodies - the London Development Agency, Transport for London, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Metropolitan Police Authority - and the London Assembly although wider comment from organisations are invited. The Mayor will consider the responses submitted by these bodies and then publish a second version of the strategy for public consultation. The Mayor's intention is to publish the public consultation draft of the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in 2009.