Academics at Newcastle University have studied cities’ response to the climate challenge and their report states that London leads the way.
As the authors of the study highlight, the climate challenge lies principally in cities – over half of the world’s population already live in cities and by 2050 this will rise to 70 per cent. Many cities are also vulnerable to extreme weather, which is becoming more commonplace due to climate change. We are therefore taking action both to reduce our carbon emissions and adapt London so it becomes more resilient in face of extreme weather.
Adaptation policies can often lag behind mitigation plans but London was the first city to draw up a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and the authors gave us an ‘A for adaptation’, citing our success at turning policy into action.
Since the Mayor came to power, London has experienced a succession of extreme weather events that have rewritten the record books. The 2010 winter was the coldest in a century; the period April 2010 to March 2012 was the equal-driest since 1910; 2012 saw the wettest summer in over a century and 2013 saw the coldest spring in 50 years.
There is growing awareness that the resilience of a city to extreme weather is an important component of its international reputation. Climate resilience will become as important as a city’s business laws, taxation system and the skills of its workforce in attracting and retaining business and investment. London’s status as a world financial centre is partly built upon its reputation as a safe place to do business and invest in. Investing in maintaining and increasing this resilience is therefore an important part of economic development of the city, but with the added benefit of improving the quality of life for its residents and reducing social inequality.
The Mayor with the London Climate Change Partnership is taking action to ensure that we increase the resilience of the city and its residents to climate risks, but also to maximise the economic opportunities that investing in resilience present. In doing so we are making London not only a national leader but a global one.
Matthew Pencharz is Senior Advisor – Environment & Energy to the Mayor of London. Further information about the Mayor’s Environment Priorities.