The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today commissioned an independent review into London’s preparedness to deal with the potentially devastating impacts of the climate emergency.
Sadiq announced this major review today to over 700 tech businesses and industry leaders at the opening of London Tech Week, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary as the UK’s biggest tech festival.
The London Climate Resilience Review will explore how London can harness technology – including AI – to better adapt to, and prepare for, the impacts of a changing climate and future-proof the capital against its devastating impacts. It will then recommend what more can be done to protect Londoners, the environment and the economy from major climate risks including wildfires, flooding and extreme heat.
In his keynote speech, Sadiq celebrated London’s success as a top destination for international tech business, with new data from London & Partners showing that London has attracted more than 1,700 new international tech firms – more than the likes of San Francisco and New York. London is also home to a growing climate tech sector, enabling further innovation for the path to Net Zero.
Sadiq went on to share some of the transformative ways that data and technology are helping to tackle the triple threats of air pollution, climate change and congestion. This includes the digital infrastructure which powers the congestion charging zone, hundreds of air quality sensors providing real-time pollution alerts to Londoners, London’s zero emission bus fleets, more than thirteen thousand new electric charging points, sensors in south London to predict and take action to prevent local floods, contactless payments and journey planning apps as well as use of data and AI to help reduce congestion.
The Mayor added that the London Climate Resilience Review, led by Emma Howard Boyd CBE, Chair of the Green Finance Institute and UN Global Ambassador for Race to Resilience and Race to Zero, would look at the important role that technology and data can play in improving London’s response to the climate emergency and called on the tech industry to contribute to this crucial work.
Despite record investment from City Hall, and ground-breaking policies and programmes to address climate change, the speed and severity of climate change and its resulting impacts in London are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The flash floods of summer 2021, and devastating fires of 2022, which resulted in the busiest day for the London Fire Brigade since the Blitz, laid bare just how vulnerable London is to the consequences of climate change. Alarmingly, climate scientists are predicting temperature highs up to 5-6 degrees above average by 2050, further increasing the risk of wildfires, heavy rain and flash flooding in the capital.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “‘I am committed to ensuring that London adapts effectively to the climate risks it faces using every mechanism at our disposal including the power of technology.
“The climate emergency is an issue of social justice as the impacts of climate change are not evenly felt. Londoners on lower incomes, those living in areas of high deprivation, people with disabilities and those from ethnically diverse backgrounds are disproportionately likely to be affected by the climate crisis and I am eager to explore how technology can be embraced to help reduce that risk.
“London is at the forefront of cities globally in using data and technology to reduce congestion, improve air quality and public transport. This important review will gain independent insight into what more needs to be done to make London a climate resilient city as we harness the power of our thriving tech industry to make London a better, greener and safer city for all.”
Sadiq continues to be at the forefront of the fight for a greener and safer future for all Londoners. Since 2019, he has invested over £24 million through his Green New Deal fund to improve climate resilience across the capital, plus a further £1.5 million to deliver climate adaptation measures to 95 London schools at the greatest climate risk.
Sadiq’s Climate Resilient Schools programme, jointly funded and delivered in partnership with Thames Water and the Department for Education, has in the past year delivered more than 550 rainwater planters and water audits, saving over 550,000 litres per day, and 60 bespoke climate plans for high-risk schools in London.
Nearly 80 per cent of the schools supported by the Mayor’s Climate Resilient Schools Programme reported that high temperatures have had a significant impact on students’ learning, productivity or behaviour, or interrupted normal school activity in other ways. During the 2022 summer heatwave alone, the surveyed schools reported a total of 33 closed days, equivalent to an estimated 22,000 days of lost learning.