Mayor launches `world-first` strategy to prepare London for climate change

London’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy outlines the impact that past and present carbon emissions will have on London’s climate. It shows that currently our city is not designed to cope with the predicted changes. The launch of the strategy comes weeks after the Government’s chief scientist advised that the UK needs to adapt to increased average global temperatures of four degrees. By the end of the century, winters will become warmer suggesting a traditional white Christmas might happen just once in a Londoner's lifetime. The rising temperatures will mean new and exotic flora and fauna in London which are more commonly seen in Mediterranean climates.

Key findings of the report:

  • 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 Mayor of London said: ‘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.

‘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.

‘London is not unique - all major cities such as New York and Tokyo are at risk from climate change. By producing this strategy, we put London in a position of strength.’

The Mayor launched the strategy at a visit hosted by the Environment Agency to the Thames Barrier – London’s most famous example of a structure designed to manage the threat of extreme weather.

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.’

The publication of the strategy underlines the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to make London a leading ‘green’ city through effective, value for money programmes including an ambitious target to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2025.

This 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.

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