Meeting the challenge of heatwaves

As London hots up and heatwaves become more frequent features of our summers, we are responding with a number of key measures.

The rising risk of heatwaves

London’s a hothouse, and it’s getting hotter.

Densely populated and built up - its resulting microclimate amplifies the impact of hot weather. Central London is up to 10°C warmer than the surrounding greenbelt on summer nights – it’s an urban heat island.

In the 2003 heatwave 600 Londoners died. As climate change heats up our summers, such heatwaves are set to become more frequent and more severe.

More cloud free days, drier summers, the heat we ourselves generate in response to hotter temperatures (for example through air-conditioning units and fridges) the basic increase in the density of London as our city continues to grow - all these factors will combine to form a heatwave intensifying cocktail centred on the heart of London.

By the middle of the century, most summers will be as warm as the heatwave of 2003.

How we’re responding

Our key measures to manage drought risk include:

  • Producing forward looking design guidance to help architects design for the future.
  • Encouraging developers to build buildings that stay cool in hot weather, so avoid, or need less mechanical cooling.
  • Ensuring waste heat is ejected above roof-level.
  • Using vegetation to keep the city cool. We have set ambitious targets to:
  •  increase tree cover by 5% by 2025
  • increase greenery in the centre of London by 5% by 2030 and a further 5% by 2050
  • create 100,000m2 of new green roofs by 2012
  • enhance 280ha of greenspace by 2012

Find out more about our plans to green urban spaces.