Matthew Pencharz

Protecting London and the world from climate change

Next month, the Mayor’s going to Paris for the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP). Leaders from around the world will be there to talk about limiting carbon emissions and dealing with climate change. Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment & Energy explains more…

This is the 21st yearly meeting of the UN’s Conference of the Parties where world leaders and scientists gather to talk about climate change. We know already that greenhouse gases (GHG) like carbon dioxide (CO2) are making the world hotter. That’s why in order to avoid dangerous levels of warming GHG emissions must be limited.

To prevent catastrophic climate change, it’s generally agreed that we must limit the rise in global annual average temperatures to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Some low lying island countries think it should be 1.5 degrees as this is the only way to protect them from rising sea levels.

At COP21 countries hope to agree a long term goal for GHG emissions. EU countries are committed to a target of at least a 40 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. China has committed to a peak in CO2 emissions by 2030 at the latest. There are still concerns that it’s too late for the world to meet the long term goal and avoid exceeding two degrees. Countries may therefore agree to make commitments every five years, with commitments getting progressively more ambitious.

We want to cut London’s carbon emissions 60 per cent by 2025 based on 1990’s level. This tough target needs the support of a global agreement. We also need countries around the world to invest in low carbon technologies. While in Paris, the Mayor will be meeting with other world cities through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Together, they’re showing how cities can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  You might not know it, but London is already doing brilliantly in this area with 2013 emissions down 11 per cent on 1990 levels. London also has the lowest individual emissions in the country at 4.8 compared to the UK average of 7.1.

In the future, the Mayor wants London to be an international leader in low carbon business. More than 160,000 people now work in London’s green economy. Sales in the sector are already worth over £25 billion. With the right policies in place, we believe this market can grow even bigger and help attract even more investment to London. At COP21, the Mayor will meet with businesses to talk about the global opportunities in London’s low carbon sector. He’ll also be hoping to bring two gongs back for London from the C40 Awards in Paris on 3 December.I’ll be reporting back on the outcomes of COP21 after the conference.

Meanwhile, find out more about what we’re doing to reduce London’s carbon emissions in our Environment section.