Climate change and weather

Assembly calls for action on climate change in London

18 November 2015

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 today which was intended to pressure the Mayor in the lead up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Murad Qureshi AM, who proposed an amendment to the motion:

“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.”

Stephen Knight AM, who seconded the amendment to the motion:

“Collectively we have had our eye off the ball for climate change and this is an issue so pressing and so important to the future of humanity that we cannot afford a lost decade. We are very close to essentially having lost a decade in our fight against carbon emissions and our fight against global warming.

It is essential that a city like London gives leadership on this issue in the run up to the Paris summit. Europe as a whole has been better than many other parts of the world in coming forward with plans.”

Darren Johnson AM, who proposed an amendment to the motion:

“This is an urgent call ahead of the Paris Climate Change summit. This Mayor of London and the next Mayor need to show real leadership. We need drastic reduction in the capital’s carbon emissions, as well as comprehensive programmes to make London resilient to the growing risks of floods and heatwaves.”

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[1]. 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.”[2]

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[3]. 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[4].

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[5].
  • On energy, the failure to deliver affordable and low carbon decentralised energy schemes leaves London increasingly vulnerable to blackouts[6].
  • 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[7].

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."

Notes to editors

Notes to editors: 

  1. Matt McGrath, Warming set to breach 1C threshold, BBC News, 09.11.15
  2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate change threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts, but options exist to limit its effects, 02.11.15
  3. London Climate Change Partnership (2012), A Summary of Climate Change Risks for London
  4. London Assembly Economy Committee (2014), The impact of climate change on London’s economy
  5. Adam Vaughn, Nearly 9,500 people die each year in London because of air pollution – studyGuardian, 15.07.15
  6. Electricity blackouts risk up, says National GridBBC News,15.07.15
  7. London Assembly Environment Committee Report: Could do Better, 25.07.14
  8. The motion was agreed 13 votes in favour.
  9. The full webcast will be available shortly.
  10. Murad Qureshi AM who proposed the amendment to the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  11. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Mary Dolan on 020 7983 4603.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.