Resilient London: confronting climate change
According to climate predictions, London is expected to experience hotter drier summers and warmer wetter winters over the next three decades, with more frequent extreme events such as heavier rainfalls, alongside other global threats such as sea levels rising. Summer temperatures are predicted to resemble those of Barcelona by 2050 with temperatures in the city as much as 10° higher than in the surrounding countryside due to the urban heat island effect.
Is London’s built asset able to cope with changes in weather patterns and temperature? Due we have the right infrastructure in place to deal with extreme rainfalls and flooding? Are our buildings designed to cope well with warmer temperatures? And are we taking climate resilience into consideration when designing and building new places or improving existing ones?
The NLA report, Resilient London: confronting climate change, reviews the status of climate resilience strategies and actions plans across the capital, the ability and skills of the built environment industry to build and design for a changing climate, and the barriers that we are facing to implement effective resilience approaches in the capital.
We present ten priorities to support London’s climate resilience as well as a showcase of London, UK and international projects that demonstrate sustainable environmental approaches and take into consideration climate resilience.
London has a pivotal part to play in creating a resilient UK capable of adjusting to the climate change that is inevitable - while at the same time cutting our emissions to Net Zero to prevent even more disastrous damage. Adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. As the driving force in the British economy, London must set the pace for its transformation. Climate change has forced that pace but the direction is clear and beneficial.
In our battle against climate change we are building a cleaner, greener, kinder world. We have had to come to terms with the damage we have done to the planet and in correcting that we are recovering much that we have lost. Restoring the abundance of our biodiversity; the fertility of our soils; the purity of our air and water; and establishing a sense of our human interdependence both here at home and in our planet as a whole.
Of course there will be many false steps on the way. Human beings have not suddenly become perfect! However, in responding to the challenge of the climate emergency, we have been forced to reconsider our attitudes to each other and to the planet that gives us life. We have to learn again to become stewards and not rapists of our soil; protectors and not despoilers of our air; guardians and not polluters of our water. Sustainability has to become our watchword as we recognise that the resources of the world are not infinite and that for our own and our children’s good we must begin to live within its capacity.
So that does mean using the power and strength of our capital city to grasp the opportunities of this new world. We must build homes and offices, warehouses and factories that use little energy and no fossil fuels; we must retrofit our housing stock to give people cleaner warmer and better ventilated homes; we must recover our green spaces, both parks and private gardens, and stop the hitherto inexorable march of concrete. City living must once again become an aspiration not something to be eschewed. It is a noble and infinitely exciting prospect with an urgency and immediacy that we cannot ignore. London must lead the way and fulfil its historic role as the driver of change and innovation.
Lord Deben, Chairman, Climate Change Committee
6 Executive Summary
14 Resilience strategies across London
26 The Thames
31 Emerging solutions
Published October 2021