Element - - Clean Technology -

The UK Govern­ment’s com­pre­hen­sive cli­mate change risk as­sess­ment for Lon­don does not make for happy read­ing. It pre­dicts a bar­rage of flood dam­age and heat waves, as well as wa­ter short­ages in which by the 2050s be­tween 27 mil­lion and 59 mil­lion peo­ple in Bri­tain will be liv­ing in ar­eas where wa­ter de­mand out­strips sup­ply. A sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the city lies within the flood plain of the River Thames and its trib­u­taries, mean­ing that a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of Lon­don’s crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture is al­ready at risk of flood­ing, with costs that could run into the bil­lions. The Thames flood bar­rier across a 520-me­tre stretch of the river was closed four times in the 1980s, 35 times in the 1990s and more than 80 times since, ac­cord­ing to the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, demon­strat­ing the grow­ing risks.

The Greater Lon­don Au­thor­ity (GLA) says that sum­mers in the city are set to get hot­ter by an es­ti­mated 1.6°C in the 2020s and 2.7°C in the 2050s. They are also get­ting drier by an es­ti­mated seven per cent in the 2020s and 19 per cent in the 2050s, while the win­ters will get some­thing like six per cent more rain in the 2020s and 14 per cent in the 2050s. Man­ag­ing the ef­fects of th­ese weather ex­tremes will be the UK cap­i­tal’s big­gest cli­mate change chal­lenge.

The GLA has pledged to re­duce Lon­don’s CO2 emis­sions by 60 per cent of 1990 lev­els by 2025. The Au­thor­ity plans to go about this by retrofitting Lon­don’s homes and pub­lic sec­tor build­ings with en­ergy ef­fi­ciency mea­sures, and aim­ing to sup­ply a quar­ter of Lon­don’s en­ergy needs from se­cure, low car­bon lo­cal sources such as so­lar, wind and waste gas by 2025. The city ap­pears to have done well in get­ting ini­tial re­duc­tions un­der­way: an in­de­pen­dent re­port by Lon­don South­bank Univer­sity showed that new de­vel­op­ments in the city cut car­bon emis­sions by 30 per cent more than re­quired by the build­ing reg­u­la­tions be­tween 2006 and 2009.

In re­cent years the UK’s En­vi­ron­ment Agency has also cre­ated a host of re­gional and lo­cal plans for ac­tions to adapt to cli­mate change im­pacts as they oc­cur, mainly with re­gards to man­ag­ing wa­ter sup­plies, flows and floods.

Boris John­son, Mayor of Lon­don said: “Lon­don has an un­ri­valled op­por­tu­nity to ben­e­fit from the shift to a low car­bon econ­omy. The time for tri­als and ex­per­i­ments is over. We are putting in place large scale pro­grammes that can de­liver sig­nif­i­cant CO2 re­duc­tions and bil­lions of pounds of en­ergy sav­ings.”

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