Jennette Arnold
London assembly member for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall
The London Assembly calls for action on climate change in London

The London Assembly calls for action on climate change in London

The Mayor has been urged to develop a new London risks-based strategic approach to climate change adaptation.

A motion was agreed by the London Assembly on Weddnesday which intends to pressure the Mayor in the lead up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

I welcomed this motion and fully support the comments made by my colleague Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee;

“The rationale behind this motion and the timing of it is down essentially to a Met Office warning which was recently issued on the 9th November, that we’re set to breach the one degree threshold for global warming. That’s above the pre-industrial levels and it would mean that the world is already halfway towards the two degree centigrade that it is felt by the experts is the gateway to dangerous global warming.

With the UN climate change conference in a few weeks’ time, it is also a time for the Mayor to say a few things and leave a legacy. Global warming is a permanent threat to the health, wellbeing and safety of Londoners.”

The full text of the amended Motion is:

“That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked.”

Further, this Assembly notes the recent announcement of the UK Met Office that global temperatures are set to rise in 2015 to more than one degree above pre-industrial levels. The world will soon be halfway towards 2C, the gateway to dangerous warming. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that further warming “will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

This Assembly notes that London is particularly exposed to the effects of climate change. We are more vulnerable to heat than surrounding areas, due to the Urban Heat Island effect; a significant proportion of our critical infrastructure is already at risk of flooding and/or overheating; and we are an already in an area of Serious Water Stress. Human-influenced climate change will exacerbate these problems, posing a threat to the health,  wellbeing and safety of Londoners, and to the capital’s supply-chains and key industries.

Despite these challenges, the Mayor’s two terms of office have been characterised by drift, as environmental concerns have been relegated to the deep recesses of the City Hall policy agenda:

  • London continues to suffer poor air quality episodes with nearly 10,000 premature deaths every year.
  • On energy, the failure to deliver affordable and low carbon decentralised energy schemes leaves London increasingly vulnerable to blackouts.
  • On cutting carbon emissions across London’s buildings, transport, economy, workplaces, homes and energy supply, the Mayor has missed crucial milestones towards meeting the 2025 target.

Looking ahead to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, and the end of his term of office, the Mayor could leave a positive and lasting environmental legacy by working with the London Pension Fund Authority on managed divestment of LPFA funds from all commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

This Assembly believes the next Mayor must prioritise the following initiatives to restore London’s reputation as a progressive, sustainable, forward thinking city that will take the difficult decisions necessary to improve the lives of all Londoners, through:

  1. Cleaning up London’s toxic air – A bigger, stronger ULEZ that drives a revolution in sustainable transport; saving lives and limiting the exposure of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
  2. Tackling fuel poverty – In retro-fitting London’s most energy efficient properties the next Mayor must find innovative ways to reach the most vulnerable through advice and referral schemes, tackling cold homes and energy efficiency in tandem.
  3. Delivering a new settlement on climate change – The next administration must redouble efforts to limit global warming to the 2 degree limit by meeting our own carbon reduction targets. The next administration must work to restore London’s reputation as a world leading city in cutting carbon and safeguarding economic security from the rise of the carbon bubble.
  4. Making London a centre of environmental innovation – The next Mayor must use the creative spirit of Tech City, the entrepreneurial and financial expertise of the financial services sector and the drive of London’s SMEs to formulate a new strategy, to make London the world’s most powerful base for green technology.
  5. Develop a new London risks-based strategic approach to climate adaptation – in line with the recommendations in the London Assembly’s report, Come Rain or Shine: London’s Adaptation to the Risks of Severe Weather and Weathering the Storm: The Impact of Climate Change on London’s Economy, when the Mayor next issues or revises the Environment Strategy. This should be based on the Thames Estuary 2100 ‘decisions pathway’ approach, identifying the ‘adaptation gap’ between the assessed risks and current resilience, and should formulate options for adaptation.”