London looks to adapt to climate change

England's capital hopes to learn lessons from other cities as it attempts to prepare for the unavoidable impact of climate change.

While Ken Livingstone and the London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) are ploughing ahead with efforts to reduce the city’s output of greenhouse gases, they have acknowledged a two-pronged approach is needed, cutting carbon in the hopes of avoiding the unmanageable while putting in place plans to manage the unavoidable.

Speaking at his weekly press conference, the Mayor told reporters steps would need to be taken to ensure London life was still liveable by the middle of this century.

Introducing a report published by the LCCP, Adapting to Climate Change – Lessons for London, Mr Livingstone said: “We need to do more to adapt to the changes in our climate – such as less water and higher temperatures in summer – that are already with us.

“It is important that London learns from the best international examples, adopting those which work well and sharing our knowledge with the rest of the world.”

Jane Milne, head of property for the Association of British Insurers and member of the LCCP, said the partnership had looked at work done in cities which were either ahead of the game or had been forced to adapt early due to their local climate, from Tokyo to Amsterdam.

“This is a problem that no one agency can solve,” she said.

“Only by local government, regional government, national government and the private sector getting together can we hope to tackle this.”

Among the issues considered in the report are climate proofing new developments to ensure they have a low environmental impact and are better designed to cope with flooding and extreme heat, trying to reduce the ‘heat island’ effect of cities by increasing shade and looking at ways to replace the acres of tarmac that make up the urban landscape and considering how best to avoid huge floods that could effect the capital due to rising water levels, unpredictable weather and its location on the banks of a tidal river.

Ms Milne told edie that plans to adapt did not mean the CCP was resigned to the fact that attempts to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases fast enough would fail, but simply that no matter how quickly we change our carbon producing habits, there would inevitably be several decades of climate change to face up to due to our past environmental sins.

“If we dealt with the emissions problems we have now and the whole world signed up to delivering the reductions we need today, we would still have 30 years of climate change ahead of us because of gases already built up in the system,” she said.

“This isn’t an either/or, we need to do both things.”

Sam Bond

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