Wednesday, February 28, 2007

London, my London

London is to become the greenest city in the world. Hurrah. Ken Livingstone has announced a radical climate action plan to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent within 20 years.

No stone shall be left unturned (or should that be no piece of litter) in his attempt to make London the first city in the world to have a really comprehensive plan to cut its carbon emissions. Plans include slashing carbon output by reducing demand and wastage across the whole spectrum from individuals to households, businesses and local governments. The plan is far more ambitious than the draft Climate Change Bill the British government will publish on March 12 setting in law a commitment to cut national emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 60 percent by 2050 (The IPCC report claims 80+% cuts are necessary by 2050, environmentalists and scientific community say 90% by 2030 - why not pitch higher?). So hear this fellow Londoners - if you haven't already, time to turn off your TV and lights and switch to low energy light bulbs. Lest you forget, you are about to be bombarded with messages to encourage you to do so. But thankfully it is not all 'go change a lightbulb'. Substantial subsidies are also being put in place for you to insulate your homes.

Green initiatives will be promoted for businesses and local governments, who will be awarded green badges of merit for (literally) cleaning up their acts. Which is good news for the many businesses who are cottoning onto the financial as well as environmental benefits of establishing good green credentials.

That is not all. The bedrock of the plan is a major change in the production and distribution of the city's electricity. The aim is to switch over one quarter of the city's power supply from the old and hugely inefficient national grid to locally-generated electricity using far more efficient combined heat and power plants (CHP). Unlike traditional power stations where up to 70% of the original energy output is wasted in lost heat or during transmission, a CHP unit captures and uses the heat produced. By moving power generation closer to our homes and offices where it is needed, efficiency can be greatly improved and therefore reduce the total amount of energy needed.

The plan aims to cut London's carbon emissions by 20 million tonnes a year by 2025, but the real goal is a reduction of 33 million tonnes or 60 percent below 1990 levels. An ambitious plan indeed, and a plan that will need the assistance of the government in the form of stable, long-term carbon prices and tough building regulations applied to new and existing buildings.

The aptly named Mr Watts, climate change adviser to Ken said "Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life but they do have to change the way they live." Lead the way Ken.

Full Report: The Mayor of London’s Climate Change Action Plan - 'Action Today to Protect Tomorrow'

For more of what Ken is up to at City Hall: Mayor of London

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