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London Climate Action Week – What Is London Doing for the Planet?

This London Climate Action Week, we consider the strides our capital city is making towards becoming more climate friendly.

london climate action week

In this blog:  Climate change in London – The status quo | How is London tackling the climate crisis? | EV driving in London


From transport decarbonisation to energy efficiency, London has made several commitments in favour of tackling the climate crisis. This blog dives into some of the actions that are being taken and how low-emission transport fits into the wider narrative of London’s quest to become net-zero.


Climate change in London – The status quo

In September 2022, polling by London Councils, the collective of Local Government in London, revealed 84% of Londoners are concerned about climate change. 62% said their day-to-day life in London has been impacted by the changing climate, a rise from 55% in the previous year’s poll. 63% said everybody is responsible preventing climate change in London.


The effects of climate change in London are widespread:

  • Air quality: The latest London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory shows that road transport remains the largest contributor of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter emissions in Greater London. According to the BBC, London air pollution levels are ‘frequently found to break both UK legal and World Health Organization (WHO) limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and WHO limits for PM2.5.’ One of the impacts of road transport emissions is air pollution. Air pollution increases the risk of illnesses including asthma, cancer and lung disease. In 2019, around 4,000 Londoners died prematurely due to long-term exposure to air pollution. Speaking on an episode of The Leader podcast, Laurie Laybourn, environmental policy researcher and author, states ‘[the] climate crisis, in making the city hotter, will increase air pollution, including these really damaging PM2.5 particles, because there will just be more dust from dry conditions washing around in the wind, if we don’t get on top of the air pollution problem with cars it will interact with that.’
  • Extreme weather: July 2021 saw two severe rainfall events that resulted in severe flooding across London to the detriment of hospitals, train and tube services, as well as flooding homes and businesses. 1.42 million people are currently living on London’s flood plains. In July 2022, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, triggered a severe weather emergency response in London following record temperatures across the UK. Hot weather increases risks of heatstroke and dehydration. But as Laybourn comments, events outside of the UK will also affect people in London. ‘More extremes across the world will damage some of the life support systems we need. A good example of this is the food system’, he says. ‘This year we’ve had news stories about how [salad] crops and other foods have been damaged in parts of the world which has affected our ability to get those products in the UK. This is just the beginning of those affects to the food system. So it’s not just about the weather in the city, it’s also about how climate extremes around the world will damage those key system that we depend on like the food system.’

How is London tackling the climate crisis?

Setting a precedent

Prominent influencers and organisations in London have outlined targets for reducing their impact on the environment, some of which are:

  • In 2018, Sadiq Khan declared a climate emergency and made a commitment to making the city net zero-carbon by 2030. His London Environment Strategy including statements on improving air quality and boosting the city’s green, as well as ensuring clean transport and clean energy and making London a zero-waste city.
  • In June 2022, London endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global commitment to ending fossil fuels production in favour of adopting clean energy.
  • One of the largest consumers of electricity in the UK, Transport for London (TfL) requires 1.6TWh of electricity annually, the equivalent to that consumed by around 420,000 homes across the city. In June 2022, TfL launched a Power Purchase Agreement tender to purchase approximately 10 per cent of the required electricity from renewable energy sources and new build assets. By 2030, TfL aims to use 100% renewable electricity across its operations.
Low Emission Zone Sign

Image Source: Getty Images

  • The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile. It is working towards several key climate-related goals, including achieving net zero carbon emissions from their own operations by 2027 and net zero carbon emissions across their investments and supply chain by 2040. In May, the Corporation announced their intention to sign up to the Lighting Urban Community International declaration to tackle light pollution.
  • Local authorities across the city are individually working towards meeting net zero goals. Lambeth Council was the first London borough to declare a climate emergency in 2019; its ambitions include reaching net-zero emissions from council operations by 2030. Lambeth, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Ealing, Lewisham and Camden are amongst the boroughs who have set borough-wide targets for reaching net zero by 2030. In May this year, London’s 33 local authorities set out an aim of ‘using infrastructure investment to boost prosperity, reduce inequalities, and help achieve net zero across the capital’ via more than 60 projects.



One of the areas in which London is attempting to improve its emissions footprint is the energy sector. As part of the ‘London Net Zero 2030: An Updated Pathway’, the ‘Accelerated Green pathway’ estimates the need for:

  • Nearly a 40% reduction in the total heat demand of buildings through insulation,
  • 2 million heat pumps in operation by 2030,
  • 460,000 buildings connected to district heating networks by 2030.

The Mayor has set a target to supply 15% of the city’s energy from renewable, local sources by 2030.

Several initiatives are underway, including:

  • A £6m Local Energy Accelerator programme supports public and private sector organisations in developing local renewables and locally generated district energy networks.
  • The Solar Together London programme has seen 1,000 residents have solar PV systems installed, saving over 1,000 tonnes of CO2e. Now in its fourth phase, 3,000 homeowners are signed up to have solar PV installed.


London Transport

“London’s goal to be net zero by 2030 is only possible if transport emissions are reduced.”

As stated in the ‘London Net Zero 2030: An Updated Pathway’, ‘the transition to cleaner transport will improve the health of Londoners with fewer deaths from toxic air pollution. If we get this right and show other cities how to do this, we can collectively limit the impacts of a warming climate. For Londoners, this will mean less incidents of extreme flooding and extreme heat.’

Advances have been taken to improve the city’s transportation sector:

  • Since 2018, it has been mandatory for all newly registered taxis to be zero emission capable.
  • Launched in 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone aimed reduce the number of vehicles in the city that do not meet emissions standards, to improve air quality. If a vehicle does not meet the Zone’s emissions standards, drivers will pay a daily charge of £12.50. The ULEZ has helped to reduce nitrogen oxides by 46% in central London and 21% in inner London. In November 2022, the Mayor confirmed the expansion of the ULEZ to encompass all London boroughs from August 2023.
  • Since January 2021, Transport for London’s 9,000 bus fleet meet or exceed the ULEZ standards. This precedes the goal of making all London’s buses zero emission by 2034.
  • 600 School Streets have been created to restrict vehicle access outside of schools during drop off and pick up times, contributing to improved air quality for children.

EV Driving in London

London Councils’ 2022 poll revealed 31% of those surveyed would ‘definitely consider’ buying an electric car and 32% would ‘definitely consider’ buying a hybrid car.

According to Zap-Map, Greater London is the geographical area with the most EV charge points, with a total of 13,436.

Mer’s London EV charging network

Mer has provided London-based organisations with EV charging to support their EV fleet transition, including GS Plus Ltd on behalf of Greenwich Council and leading university Kings College London following a successful tender process.

Drivers can also charge on Mer’s public charge points across Greater London:

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