Climate change

MQT on 2018-10-19
Session date: 
October 19, 2018
Question By: 
Caroline Russell
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


A new study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that at the current rate of warming, the central estimate for reaching 1.5C is around 2040, but it could be as early as 2030. In this context, will you review your carbon reduction targets and your ambition to make London a zero carbon city by 2050?


Answer for Climate change

Answer for Climate change

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you, Chairman.  Can I congratulate Assembly Member Russell as well on the promotion.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees is a wake up call.  The consequences of exceeding a 1.5 degrees celsius average temperature across the globe are significant and we only have a short time to act.  We are already preparing for London to experience more frequent severe flooding in the winter and to have hotter drier summers.  This could affect all Londoners.  In the type of heatwave that is predicted to occur in the 2030s it is estimated that two thirds of flats could overheat.  Nearly 1.3 million people already live and work in areas at risk of flooding.


That is why we are working hard to make London a more resilient city.  We are doing what we can from City Hall to make sure London plays its part in mitigating climate change.  London was among the first to achieve certification of a Paris Agreement Compatible Climate Action Plan by C40.  This confirmation of compliance was sent by C40 in April 2018.  My ambition is for London to be a zero-carbon city by 2050 and we have set out plans to make this a reality in the London Environment Strategy which has also been independently assessed to be 1.5 degrees compliant.  This puts London’s ambition well ahead of national Government, that is lagging well behind the IPCC’s recommendations.


I have reviewed the carbon reduction targets of London since I became Mayor to make them more ambitious.  London has also set ambitious short term carbon budgets in my London Environment Strategy based on what is technically feasible which shows commitment and leadership.  To give you an idea of the scale of action required by 2035 we must retrofit nearly 1.5 million homes.  That will require retrofitting of up to 150,000 homes in one year.  We also need to change our heat to low carbon sources and create an entirely zero carbon transport network.  We are taking action now to make this a reality and are introducing zero carbon standards for new buildings, bringing in the world’s toughest low emission zones and improving the energy efficiency of buildings through my RE:FIT and RE:NEW programmes and our new £500 million Energy Efficient Loan Fund.


But London cannot do this alone.  The Government’s current policies will not meet its own 8% carbon reduction target, let alone the Paris Agreement aims.


Caroline Russell AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  It is good that you are aware of the seriousness of the IPCC report and that you can see the serious potential impacts for Londoners.  1.5 degrees warming is like a cliff edge and, beyond that, we get to the very worst of impacts climate breakdown; floods, heatwaves, extreme weather events and wildfires becoming our new normal.


Now given that the IPCC say that this limit could be exceeded in as little as 12 years; that is by 2030.  Will you consider a 12-year emergency carbon reduction plan for London based on the IPCC recommendations?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We already are doing more than the national Government.  As it is, for us to meet the ambitious targets, we have got three five-year carbon budgets going forward.  We need the Government to do much more than it currently is.  One of the reasons why --


Caroline Russell AM:  Mr Mayor, you are right to criticise the Government.  It is forcing through fracking, Heathrow expansion, pulling the plug on solar.  All of those things.  Then absolutely not showing any leadership.  But I asked if you would consider a 12-year emergency carbon reduction plan for London based on the IPCC report.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Sure.  I was about to explain.


Caroline Russell AM:  Sorry.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  What we have done is the three five-year carbon reduction targets are already shown by the C40 to get us towards meeting the requirements of the Paris Accord.  As it is, for us to meet those ambitious and stretching targets, we need the Government to do much more.  I am worried, as it currently stands, the Government is not going to do enough for us to meet even those stretching targets.  The two criteria we have had is being ambitious but being realistic.  Some of the things we need, just to meet those targets by the way, before you go even further, is we need the Government to provide strong and consistent national policy that will help us meet our targets.  We need help with regulation, economic incentives and funding.  Without those some people are querying whether we can even reach the targets we currently have.


Caroline Russell AM:  Given that the Government clearly needs to be doing more would you, for instance, back a call for a national government task force working across departments to drive climate action at every level of government, so at local Government, borough level, as well as at London level?  Is that a call that you would back?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  That is basically what we are doing at City Hall.  You cannot look at this in silos.  The idea that simply one department looking at this is ridiculous.  Transport, housing, the budget, the comprehensive spending review.  All these things are linked.  You are right to remind us, with the best will in the world, whether it is [The Rt. Hon] Michael Gove [MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] or [The Rt. Hon] Claire Perry [MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy], they by themselves cannot do this.  It needs buy in from all departments from Government.  Whether it is a task force, what we are doing here by mainstreaming the issue, that needs to happen as soon as possible.


Caroline Russell AM:  Thank you.  Finally, apart from the sort of big picture of decarbonising our cities’ infrastructure, the IPCC report lists examples of changes that we can make in our daily lives like eating less meat and dairy, video conferencing rather than flying, walking and cycling, more using washing lines, not tumble dryers.  The kind of changes that Londoners can make to move to a lower carbon way of living.  Will you take on inspiring Londoners to take the threat of climate change seriously, as you have done with air pollution?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We have got it.  For example, the last two C40 meetings were done by telephone conference rather than attending.  These are some of the examples of the things that we can do.  A lot of this is common sense.  One of the reasons why I was so keen, for example, for us to ensure we have water fountains across our city is for people to take some personal responsibility of refiling bottles.  There are other examples we can do.  It does not need to be in a patronising or lecturing way.  It is just being a bit more savvy about what we can do to contribute towards not only the situation by 2030, we can have an increase of 1.5 degrees --


Caroline Russell AM:  Do I take that as a, “Yes” because I am almost out of time.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Sure.


Caroline Russell AM:  OK.  Thank you.