Mayor Sadiq Khan unveils goals to make London world’s ‘greenest city’

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to make the capital the "greenest" city in the world by 2050, with a series of targets put in place to improve air quality, boost renewables investments and halve food waste.

With a headline goal of the capital becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, the London Environment Strategy (LES) sets out ambitious targets of increasing London’s current solar PV capacity by 20 times by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline, and introducing zero-emissions zones in some town centres by 2020, five years ahead of the previous target, to assist businesses with the uptake of electric vehicles.

The publication of the LES follows City Hall’s consultations with almost 3,000 Londoners and 370 stakeholders after the launch of the draft strategy last August.

“I’m delighted that so many Londoners have got involved and given their feedback on the future of London’s environment,” Khan said. “In order to protect it for future generations, we must take tough action now – we have already done some fantastic work, but there is lots more to do, and we need all Londoners, and the Government, to play their part.”

While the LES encompasses all aspects of the capital’s environment, it leads on a bold bid to bring nitrogen oxide (NO2) levels in London’s air below the legal limit by 2025 – the same date set out in the government’s Air Quality Plan. With air pollution in London reaching the legal limit for the whole of 2018 less than a month into the year, Khan has said he wants to meet this target early and adopt even tighter World Health Organisation air quality guidelines. The law currently requires that the hourly measurement of toxic NO2 must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 18 times in a year. 

As for clean energy, the LES sets out Khan’s ambitions of having 1GW of solar PV installed in the capital by 2030 and 2GW by 2050 – a 20-fold increase on 2017 levels – and setting up an energy supply company which delivers “fairer” energy prices to Londoners by supporting fuel-poor homes and offering a green tariff. 

It additionally sets tight carbon budgets, outlining an initial aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% against 1990 levels in 2018-2022 – a higher reduction than that set by the government and one which is compliant with the Paris Agreement’s pledge to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C, according to the strategy.

Other noteworthy targets include halving London’s food waste per person by 2030, increasing green cover by investing £4m in tree planting, and making London the world’s first ‘National Park City’ by summer 2019 by protecting, improving and expanding its parks and green spaces.

Commenting on the LES, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group’s executive director Mark Watts said it is “setting the standard for just how bold mayors can be in delivering the transformational climate action that humanity needs”.

“I congratulate Mayor Khan and the team in London for being amongst the first cities globally to publish a plan set to deliver the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement,” Watts added. “London is providing inspiration to cities around the world.”

Sarah George

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