Home » London beats Britain at newbuild carbon reduction, claims report

London beats Britain at newbuild carbon reduction, claims report

by Mark Cantrell
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

A new report claims London outperforms the rest of the UK in cutting energy use, driving down carbon emissions, and supporting investment in green technologies.

The report, published by the Greater London Authority (GLA), praises the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s planning policies for driving the capital’s sustainability performance.

According to City Hall, the Mayor’s London Plan includes policies that address both the climate emergency and the housing crisis, as well as setting out how to make London a greener and healthier city for all.

The London Plan’s net zero carbon target applies to all major planning applications and is said to be delivering carbon reductions that are over 50% more than required by national building regulations. Where developers cannot achieve net zero onsite, they also contribute funds to support other decarbonisation projects in London boroughs.

Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: “The mayor has committed to reaching net zero carbon by 2030, and this report shows that we are progressing swiftly in the right direction.

“Sadiq is using all his powers to help boost London’s green economy while accelerating climate action through his many energy saving initiatives. Whilst the UK is falling behind on key targets, London is leading the way with ambitious planning policies that support the environment, bring down energy bills and help Londoners become more energy efficient.

“Carbon emissions in London are falling much faster than if we followed national policy. The mayor has repeatedly called on the government to do more to help achieve net zero by 2030 or devolve more powers and resources to mayor’s who are willing to step up. With more funding and support we can build a better London for everyone – a safer, fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners.”

Carbon savings

The 2022 Energy Monitoring Report sets out to summarise the impact of mayoral policies on the 47,862 new dwellings and 2.4 million m2 of non-residential floorspace approved in 2022 that were referred to the mayor.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from proposed new developments were saved compared to if they were built only to national building regulations. Savings from residential buildings were 57% greater than national requirements, up 4% from 2021. Reductions in non-residential buildings were 49%, up by 5% in 2021. The carbon saved is equivalent to 50,000 return flights from London to New York
  • 118 of 134 proposed developments will be heated through heat pumps, a total of 31,000 homes (including 103 large scale heat pumps serving multiple homes) and an increase of 8,000 homes from 2021
  • Nearly £30m of new investment has been made in solar panels, doubling capacity secured in 2021 across 96% of developments
  • For the first time, the report says, eight large developments have been designed as ‘net zero buildings’ from the outset and achieved net zero carbon through on-site measures alone (in 2021 all applications required offsetting to meet net zero carbon)
  • As well as onsite savings, an estimated £162.2m is potentially available through carbon offsets to support climate action in the boroughs

The report is said to underline the important role cities can play, where they are given power to drive down carbon emissions, reducing energy costs, supporting supply chains and driving investment in clean technology.

Helena Rivers, net zero lead, building and places, Europe and India, AECOM, said: “The GLA’s latest energy monitoring report shows that its ambitious London Plan policies to help the capital achieve net zero by 2030 continue to make a difference, with on-site carbon emissions for new developments in the city half the levels of national Building Regulation requirements. AECOM is proud of its long-standing partnership with the GLA to help develop and implement these vital strategies and policies that lay the foundation for a greener future for London.”

The GLA has also published the 2021 Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which estimates the total carbon emissions produced by London. The latest data shows that London’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 28.7m tonnes, a reduction of 44% compared to 2000, when London’s emissions peaked, and 37% against the 1990 baseline.

Despite a growing population and economy, London’s emissions per person have halved by 51%, it claims, from 6.7 MtCO2e per capita in 1990 to 3.3 MtCO2e per capita in 2021. Compared to the rest of the UK, London still has the lowest CO2 per capita emissions of any region.

Main image: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Copyright (c) Greater London Authority

Read next: Can our infrastructure weather the storm of climate change?

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